COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – As a whole, the Colorado Rapids are off to solid start so far in 2014.
A 4-4-3 record through the opening third of the season under a first-year head coach and a youthful roster is nothing to scoff at, but there’s a big problem masked by that reasonable record.
In the Rapids’ last six games, they’ve managed just four goals, three of which were scored trailing by multiple goals in the second half. But an even bigger issue is that of Colorado’s 11 goals so far this season, they’ve only scored one in the first half. So not only is the offense scuffling, it’s failing to produce early.
For veteran striker Edson Buddle, the reason for the lack of early goals is relatively easy to pick out.
“Communication is just as important as doing a step-over,” Buddle told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's home matchup against the Montreal Impact (9 pm ET; MLS Live). “I think with this team, you’re going to be forced to learn how to do that. It’ll be a good addition to everyone’s game. It’s the byproduct of a young team. Pablo [Mastroeni, head coach] is doing a great job saying that. With the older guys, we just have to find other ways to say it.”
Buddle isn’t the only player to have pointed out the team’s early communication woes, with fellow striker Gabriel Torres saying so last month as well. And Mastroeni acknowledged the communication problems on Wednesday, but he said it’s more of the byproduct of a team learning his new system rather than youth.
“The communication part … I feel is the most critical piece in soccer,” Mastroeni said. “The places of disconnect are still unfamiliarity with not knowing exactly who we are. We’re working towards who we are, but not completely can see the big picture yet.”
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Despite the somewhat ominous stats of late, Buddle believes the team will figure it out sooner rather than later. He said the second half of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, during which the Rapids dominated with a goal and several near-chances, was a sign of that.
“We’ll come out of this,” Buddle said. “We’ll get better each week. I think collectively, we showed that we can play in another team’s half. We just want to build on that.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.