COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – There’s just something about the San Jose Earthquakes that the Colorado Rapids can’t quite figure out.
San Jose came into Saturday night’s matchup with Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park sporting a 5-0-1 record against the Rapids over the last two years, typically using a combination of their physicality and timely goals to frustrate their way to victory. This time around, that same style of play earned them a scoreless draw, frustrating all the same for Colorado.
San Jose took a conservative approach, sitting back and letting the home side control possession, but it was still an equation that led to just one Rapids shot on goal all night. And the Earthquakes appeared to frustrate the Rapids once again with their trademark physical style – with San Jose’s Adam Jahn even collecting a late red card for a shoulder to rookie Jared Watts.
But even though the Rapids’ two-game win streak was snapped, head coach Pablo Mastroeni believes there were plenty of positives to take away from the draw as well.
“I think for the first time this year we encountered a team that actually came in to make it hard for us to play,” Mastroeni said postgame. “This is a great learning experience for our group, and if we continue on the same form, there’s going to be more and more teams that are going to come to this place and kind of sit in and look to break.”
It was the first time all season the Rapids have faced a team that played quite as conservatively as San Jose did.
Heading into Saturday with an impressive 3-1-1 record, including consecutive quality road victories in Vancouver and Toronto, the Rapids’ offense had accumulated eight goals in their first five games of the season. But the Earthquakes were more than happy to put 11 men behind the ball, making the job of creating opportunities a challenging one for Colorado.
“They decided to sit in a little bit and concede some possession and some space,” Rapids captain Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com postgame. “They’re a physical team, that’s the way they play. And they’ve been effective at times. But you have to be ready for it. You can’t complain about it.”
Despite the positive rhetoric, actions perhaps spoke louder than words postgame. Shortly after the game, striker Edson Buddle and Danny Mwanga (who didn’t make the bench on Saturday) got into a heated argument in front of reporters. It was perhaps a fitting synopsis of Colorado’s lack of success against the Earthquakes, something they know they have to figure out sooner rather than later.
“They put 11 guys behind the ball, and any time they do that it’s a whole different game,” Mastroeni said. “You’ve got to move the ball quicker. This is the first time we’ve experienced this. The focus moving forward is, ‘How do we move the ball quicker?’”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.