Despite shutout loss in season opener, Colorado Rapids say they're nothing like 2015 version

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Another season, another shutout suffered by the Colorado Rapids.

Yet despite a 1-0 defeat Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes to open their new MLS campaign, the Rapids made it clear they feel that 2016 is nothing like last year, when Colorado went 362 minutes before finding the back of the net.

“That hasn’t even crossed my mind,” Rapids midfielder Sam Cronin said after the game. “In preseason, Kevin Doyle was scoring goals for fun and we were creating tons of chances. We’re a whole new team. We have a new arsenal of attacking players and we know there’ll be goals for us.”

Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni gave five players their club debuts, including new Designated Player Shkelzen Gashi, who started on the left wing, and MLS veteran Marco Pappa, who came on in the 79th minute and helped spark a Rapids attack that posed several tough questions of the San Jose defense down the home stretch.

“We set out in preseason to be a team that tactically understands what we’re trying to achieve: to be in the attacking third, providing service, providing goal-scoring opportunities,” Mastroeni said. In six weeks, we’ve come so far. Today was an exhibition of guys understanding what their roles are, believing in it, working extremely hard for one another and doing everything they can to put themselves in a great situation to win the game.

“Unfortunately, you can do all that and still not [win]. That’s why it’s the most beautiful game.”

Colorado was credited with 18 shots – to San Jose’s seven – and forced five saves from San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham, including a leaping stop on Eric Miller’s 25-yard try in the 85th minute which looked set to find the upper reaches of the far corner. San Jose defenders Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez also had key blocks to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.

“I think when Marco Pappa came in the game, it changed a little bit,” Cronin said. “Every time he touched the ball, he created something good going forward. . . . That’s what we’ll expect from him all season, as he gets fit. We’ve had a little bit of a choppy preseason, with our [most] talented players coming in late and recovering from injury. But I think as we continue to get settled in and get our group together, we’ll be a very good side this season.”