COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Last season, the Colorado Rapids went on a scoring tear towards the end of the year that saw them gain momentum at a critical time en route to MLS Cup success.
Oh, how things have changed.
This year, the team has only scored 19 goals in 18 games, with seven of those coming in two home games at the start of the season.
A frustrating scoreless draw at home Sunday night against Houston rubbed a bit more salt into the wounds, even as the home side dominated the game.
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“I’m still disappointed that we’re not putting the goals up,” defender Drew Moor said after the game. “You can’t win games if you don’t score goals, but we definitely have the firepower and the individuals to do that, and that’ll come."
A quick test of the Rapids’ firepower comes almost straight away with a midweek game away against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. The good news for the Rapids is that the partnership of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings (above) should be reunited as Casey returns from a one-game suspension after he was issued a red card against Columbus on June 26.
The duo, who combined for 27 regular season goals last season, have been on the field together only sparingly this year and Cummings is still not 100 percent recovered from his recent ankle injury. Head coach Gary Smith was delighted to have Cummings back Saturday night for his first start since May 4, but said the Jamaican not surprisingly was lacking his usual edge in front of goal.
Cummings himself described his rehabilitation from the ankle problem as a “work in progress.” He was paired with Caleb Folan, a pairing that couldn’t quite click as desired even as they helped create multiple chances. Cummings told MLSsoccer.com that he felt the two often found themselves a “little too separated” during the game.
Folan, who played the entire 90 minutes, said he was a little frustrated with the result, but tried to see the positives out of a much improved Rapids performance overall and of the partnership with Cummings.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I think at times that (combination with Cummings) worked really well. At times, it’s just that final cross. We were playing in the right kind of way, getting in the right areas.”
Smith praised the work rate of the big striker, who joined from Hull City in England at the start of this season.
“What you see tonight out of him is what I expected and what I wanted,” Smith said. “He’s a massive team player, he works extremely hard. On another day, things could have gone differently. I thought his performance was great, I really did.”
One option unavailable to the Rapids on Wednesday, however, will be forward Quincy Amarikwa, who will serve a one-game suspension for a red card given in the 93rd minute for abusive language.