Oh, what could’ve been.
The Colorado Rapids won’t play again for three weeks, and heading into Saturday night’s 3-2 loss against FC Dallas and old coach Oscar Pareja, they were on an unbeaten spell, collecting seven points over a three-game homestand. A win – or perhaps even a hard-fought draw – could’ve kept the momentum rolling into by far the lengthiest pause of the season.
But a late defensive meltdown allowed Colorado to return home empty-handed, blowing an early lead and a chance to ride into the World Cup break on a wave of momentum.
“It’s obviously a game that you want to win, if the stats say anything than the results will go in our favor,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame. “But the game of soccer doesn’t owe you anything.”
The Rapids won’t play a regular season match again for three more weeks (against Vancouver June 28), and they’ll have nearly a month to ponder the defensive shortcomings. Fabian Castillo’s 62nd minute winner for Dallas saw the Colombian zig-zag his way through three Rapids defenders en route to ensuring his side’s first victory in nearly two months.
But the Rapids’ defensive blunders didn’t stop simply on the final goal, even though the first two Dallas goals came mostly as a result of unfortunate deflections. FC Dallas striker Blas Perez – of all people – was left wide open in the box in the second half, and the Panamanian’s header fortunately only crashed off the crossbar. Fellow FC Dallas striker Tesho Akindele had two open, spectacular chances for Dallas, only to see both go to waste.
But while the defensive performance lacked, the offense saw Deshorn Brown and Jose Mari score two great goals, sending Colorado’s attack, with nine goals in its last four games, into the break on a high.
“I think I’m starting to get more comfortable and play my game,” Brown said postgame. “I’ve just got to keep believing in myself and keep going.”
In the meantime, the Rapids will still somewhat regret a mostly solid performance spoilt by poor defending, denying Mastroeni’s club a chance to head into the break on a four-game unbeaten spell.
“It’s frustrating,” said Mastroeni of the result, while stressing that he thought highly of the overall performance despite the loss. “But that’s why you can’t get too caught up in results, or at least I don’t. I look at the big picture, I look at where we were four months ago, [and] I look at where we are today.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.