COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Fans of the Colorado Rapids had much to celebrate as they arrived to cheer on the Supporter’s Shield leaders and witness the debut of Tim Howard on the Fourth of July. But Monday night’s 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers left the Rapids wanting more, despite keeping their home unbeaten record and now 12-game unbeaten streak intact.
“I’m disappointed in the performance,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said of the result, referencing his team’s inability to find a goal. “Fans were on the edge of their seats, just waiting to react and blow the lid off this place. But too many times, we played into [Portland’s] hand, playing underneath.”
“The result, for me, was OK,” Howard said of the result. “You always want to keep a clean sheet at home. It was a bit of a labored performance, but give credit to Portland. They are the champions.”
Fans came out to see Howard, but he was rarely tested in the game’s early moments as the Rapids dominated first-half possession. Colorado’s best chance to take an early lead came in the 20th minute when Micheal Azira found Shkëlzen Gashi in on goal, but the effort was parried away by Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
It was a testament to the offensive woes for Colorado, who struggled to generate opportunities despite the injection of returning international players Jermaine Jones and Gashi into the starting lineup.
“I think the synchronicity amongst the attacking group wasn’t there today,” Mastroeni explained. “I think a lot of that has to do with guys who haven’t really played with each other for the last six weeks, but that will come with time.”
While Colorado’s attack left much to be desired, the reviews for Howard were positive as he played his first minutes for the club.
“I think he did everything that he needed to do,” Mastroeni said. “I think he had to do too much tonight, that’s the disappointing part of it.”
The Rapids debutant made two critical saves to keep the score level and preserve a clean sheet in his first start for Colorado.
“They were later in the game, I wish they would’ve come earlier,” Howard said. “It’s good to get a clean sheet and play your part in getting that clean sheet.”
Now that the Rapids have crossed the hurdle of Howard's debut, Mastroeni expects his team to regain focus as it heads into the final half of the season.
“We’ve had a crazy amount of outside distractions within our group. Credit to the guys for overcoming that outside stuff to put forth the effort tonight,” Mastroeni said. “But now that he’s here, we understand what we’re trying to achieve. He’s had a very good game and now we can build, look forward and concentrate on creating a really tight-knit group.”