Three weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids’ defense was in shambles. It allowed 13 goals in five matches during the month of June.
On Saturday in Seattle, however, the back line showed that it is once again a strength, thanks in large part to center back and team captain Drew Moor.
In the Rapids’ 1-1 draw with the Sounders on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, Colorado conceded only their second goal in their last four games and the defense held on for their first-ever result in six trips to Seattle.
Goalkeeper Clint Irwin’s fingertip third-minute save and Moor – who also scored the Rapids’ lone goal off a corner in the 60th minute – headed a corner off the line in the 83rd as Moor and the defense came up with the big plays when it needed to on Saturday.
“We’ve just stayed concentrated,” Moor said postgame of the team’s defensive improvement. “We all have to be on the same page like we have been, and when you do have that healthy competition at the back [for lineup spots], it makes training that much more meaningful. And when you’re training as hard as you can, games become that much easier to be on the same page.”
As the defense tired towards the end of the second half, relief came off the bench. Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja brought in two defensive-minded substitutions in the second half to pad the back line, with center back German Mera coming into the match shortly after DeAndre Yedlin’s 65th minute goal and Anthony Wallace came on in the 74th minute as well.
“I think we’re all on the same page,” Pareja said postgame of the Rapids’ defensive improvements this month. “That connection is important.”
It wasn’t necessarily pretty, particularly towards the end of the match as the Rapids had to scratch and claw defensively to keep the Sounders at bay. But the defense-driven result -- coming just three days after earning a comeback win at home -- extended Colorado’s unbeaten streak to five games. And it picked up a valuable road point.
“It’s an important point, but I think a positive sign is nobody is overly excited in the locker room,” Moor said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but we fought for 90 minutes. I think at the end of the season this is one of those where you look back on as a big point, hopefully.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.