COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids may be enjoying their first extended layoff of the season – a 10-day break following a 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Sunday – but head coach Oscar Pareja plans to make the most of the time off and address his most pressing point of concern.
And after an inconsistent 5-5-0 start to the season, the biggest concern for the Colombian is undeniably his team's defense.
“We need to work on defense,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “We need to defend better. Technically there are some places where we need to get on the same page.”
The Rapids have allowed just one goal in their five victories, yet during their five defeats, they’ve allowed 11 goals. And with center back Marvell Wynne likely out for the next month with a strained right hamstring, they'll need to make more adjustments this week to avoid a continuation of their defensive inconsistencies.
“There’s lots to do,” affirmed Pareja, who also added that Colorado will specifically focus on set-piece defending. “And they need to recover.”
As for the players themselves, they’ll be looking forward to an extra off day this week following three games in an eight-day stretch that ended with Sunday’s win. The Rapids had an off day Tuesday and will have an extra one on Saturday, which the players will use to relax.
Finally, the 10 days will be used to heal up a slew of injuries that have hit the team recently. Aside from Wynne, striker Omar Cummings is out four weeks with a sprained left ankle, midfielder Jamie Smith continues to train and recover from a torn ACL and striker Conor Casey is working towards his first start this season since returning from a ruptured Achilles last month.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.