When Conor Casey’s looping header put the Colorado Rapids ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute of Wednesday night’s clash against Toronto FC at BMO Field, all seemed right for the visitors, who were seeking their first win in four matches.
But then, the Rapids did what they’ve become alarmingly adept at doing over the course of the past month: they blew the lead, and subsequently, the game.
The Rapids suffered their sixth loss in their past seven games Wednesday night, and a single goal has been the difference in all six of them. But perhaps more concerning is half of those losses have come despite the Rapids holding leads. In the Rapids’ latest setback Wednesday, Casey’s 50th career MLS goal had the Rapids ahead at the interval, only for two Toronto goals to send Colorado crashing to yet another gut-punching defeat.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 2, COL 1
“I keep saying the same thing over and over: it’s a lack of concentration,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com by phone Wednesday night. “I think it’s those little things that matter. Tight spaces you have to bottle, you have to play with your soul. But still, you concede the goals. It’s impossible not to be frustrated at the moment.”
The trend of blowing leads started June 20 in the Rapids’ 2-1 loss to San Jose, where Colorado conceded two goals in the game’s final ten minutes to lose a hard-fought battle at home. Then on Saturday, the Rapids took a second half lead on FC Dallas thanks to Omar Cummings’ strike, only for two Dallas goals to send Colorado to yet another crushing late home loss.
With six second half goals allowed in the Rapids’ last three games, late defensive meltdowns appear to be at the root of the problem for Pareja’s side, and it’s a problem that Pareja is busy trying to figure out.
“At the beginning of the season we were having good second halves.” Pareja said. “Now, it’s opposite. Some of those things, it’s the same as before, it’s a lack of concentration in our end. We’ve got to keep working.”
The Rapids will hope to reverse the trend against their arch-rivals Saturday night, when they travel to the Rio Tinto Stadium to battle Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, MLS Live).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.