It was a change to the same for the Colorado Rapids.
In the Rapids’ 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Friday night, Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja kept the same lineup as he did in the Rapids’ 3-0 win over Portland September 5, marking just the second time this season that Pareja kept an identical starting lineup in back-to-back games.
But just like the last time Pareja went with the same lineup in back-to-back games (a June 30 win over Portland followed by a July 4 loss to Vancouver), the burgundy suffered a defeat in the second leg.
“I thought the team played really well against Portland, and we’re looking for consistency with the team,” Pareja said post-game. “I thought the first 15 minutes of the first half were very poor. We didn’t have intensity and I think that set the tone for the game.”
After last Wednesday’s convincing home throttling of the Timbers, the Rapids trotted out the same starting eleven they marched out against Portland, with the hopes that a similar lineup could produce a similar result. But Pareja’s 4-3-3 revealed several holes in the Rapids’ backline, which conceded 8 shots on goal, and only a series of tidy saves from Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens kept the score from being further one-sided.
Friday night’s defeat also tied a franchise-record ninth consecutive road defeat for the Rapids, their longest road losing spell in over a decade (Colorado lost nine straight road games between 2000 and 2001). On Friday, the Galaxy looked superior from the outset, quickly found the back of the net through Robbie Keane in the 15th minute and wouldn’t look back in controlling the match from start to finish.
“We didn‘t have it in that first 15 minutes,” Rapids defender Tyrone Marshall said postgame. “If one person doesn’t move, it affects the unit as a whole. We have to make sure we keep our line.”
Ultimately, the notion of keeping things the same tactically only led to an all-too-familiar road result for Colorado.
“We have a home field advantage,” Marshall said. “It’s always a little different on the road, that’s the way it is in MLS.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.