Colorado Rapids rue defensive mistakes as winless streak hits 12 games

The Colorado Rapids’ franchise-record winless streak hit 12 games on Saturday against Chivas USA, and defender Zat Knight knows exactly why.

The defense just didn’t do its part.

After building a 1-0 lead in the first half behind the first career MLS goal from John Neeskens, the Rapids allowed two goals in the final 25 minutes of the match, both of which could have been stopped if Colorado had been on their game defensively.

Chivas rookie Kris Tyrpak carved up the Rapids backline in the 65th minute for his first career MLS goal and then Felix Borja pounced on an open header in the 85th minute that sealed the Rapids’ fate. Knight – the towering, 6-foot-6 defender brought over from England recently to help shore up a Rapids back line in need – played a part in both goals.

“Very sloppy goals. Two easy goals,” Knight said. “Not much left from concentration and tiredness. I thought I was at fault for the making one of the goals, [Felix Borja] just got in front of me. Two sloppy goals and we need to do better as a team, as a defense as well.”

The two second-half goals soured an otherwise steady performance in the first half for the Rapids, who are stuck playing for pride after being eliminated from postseason contention long before the season finale. They controlled the flow of the game throughout the first half and nearly capitalized on a number of occasions against the Goats before they opened the scoring with Neeskens in the 30th minute.

“There were good combination plays, we were dangerous, and we had a lot of good opportunities,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “I think we spent a lot of that energy trying to create those chances, and not being able to capitalize on them, I think in the end it was the worse out of it.”

With the playoffs out of sight and a number of his regulars out with injury, Mastroeni leaned on youngsters like Neeskens, Jared Watts, Charles Eloundou to try and snap the Rapids’ winless streak, which dates back to July 25.

Despite the result, Mastroeni preached patience for a young team with two games left to play in 2014.

“The future for this team is bright,” Mastroeni said. “It’s hard to see that, but being with these guys for the last 10 months, I’ve seen some great strides and creating a name for themselves and more importantly, getting better with each passing day.”

Added Neeskens: “We have to continue working, that’s the only way. We have to continue the plan from today’s first half and continue working throughout the game and the results will come.”