It was Decision Day throughout MLS, but in their final game of the 2015 season the Colorado Rapids were unable to earn a decision in the Rose City, falling to the Portland Timbers in Sunday night’s 4-1 loss.
The defeat was the 15th of the season for the Western Conference bottom dwellers, but the frequency of negative results hasn’t made them any easier to stomach.
“It’s the same old swan song,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “We weren’t good enough in the final third and not hungry enough. They had something to play for and scored some good goals.”
“It’s not nice to finish the season like that,” added Rapids Designated Player Kevin Doyle. “After winning on Wednesday we wanted to win tonight and finish the season on a positive note. [Portland] obviously needed a win to get into the playoffs and they deservedly won tonight.”
The Rapids’ scoring leader was handed the armband by Mastroeni for Sunday evening’s match - his first time captaining Colorado – but another loss meant little cause for celebration.
“I would’ve just preferred to win the game,” Doyle lamented. “It’s an honor to captain the club, but you want to win the game.”
Handing Doyle the captaincy was a no brainer decision for Mastroeni, based on the Irishman’s importance to the club since joining Colorado in late May.
“I think he’s been a leader in this group,” Mastroeni said of Doyle. “He’s been a driving force for the guys and put a great shift in against Kansas City. Looking at the whole body of work, he’s been quite influential.”
It was rookie Dominique Badji who tallied Colorado’s lone goal of the game, his second in MLS and first since Colorado’s 4-0 win over FC Dallas in early April.
Said Mastroeni: “Badji is willing and wanting to get better as a player. He’s been dynamic and it was fitting for him to get a goal today.”
The single tally wasn’t enough for Colorado, which was once again unable to muster up enough offense to take home three points. It’s an issue that the Rapids will have to take a look at heading into the offseason, according to Mastroeni.
“I think this year hasn’t been a question of creating enough, fighting for each other, or effort,” he said. “Our biggest issue is scoring the goals and being brave. You have to find ways to get goals. There needs to be more responsibility.”
Playoffs have been out of the conversation in Colorado for the better part of three weeks following their elimination by rivals RSL on Oct. 4. Now that the season has officially come to a close, Rapids players and staff will now have several months to reflect and regroup for 2016.
“All of us feel that responsibility to win," said Doyle, "to give the fans something to look forward to next year. We will be trying to improve throughout the offseason, to get stronger and fitter and get ourselves in the playoffs next year.”