Mastroeni praises Colorado's "most complete performance"

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Offense has been lacking all season for the Colorado Rapids. But in Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Rapids offensive questions were put to rest. It marked Colorado’s first 3-0 win since 2014, snapping both the Rapids seven-game winless streak and a scoring drought which had endured for more than 330 minutes dating back to April 15.

“I think it was very important for this whole group,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said of the result. “We created quite a few dangerous chances, but I think overall, it was the most complete performance.”

Looking for changes in fortune, Colorado lined up in a 4-4-2, a change from the team’s regular 4-2-3-1 formation. Mastroeni also made a key change along the Rapids’ back four, with Marlon Hairston featuring at right back.

“You can tweak things up and change formations, but that’s all coach talk and fun for the pundits,” Mastroeni said of the changes.

With Hairston adding an additional element to Colorado’s attack from fullback, the Rapids looked potent from the early minutes. They finally broke through in the 29th minute, when Mohammed Saeid’s cross connected with midfielder Shkelzen Gashi, who scored the opening goal – his first of 2017.

“I think just having players ahead of the ball isn’t an attack,” Mastroeni explained. “I think Marlon’s speed, I think his ability to find passes and work beyond, really creates havoc for the opponents. More importantly, it’s something they talk about before the game. So psychologically that’s an advantage as well.”

Hairston wasn’t the only piece clicking for Colorado. The Rapids doubled the lead six minutes later with Alan Gordon sending a streaking Dominique Badji down the center of the San Jose defense, finishing a long-range effort to put the score at 2-0 – a lead the Rapids would take into the break.

Badji continued to stretch the ‘Quakes defense in the second half, finding Gashi with a pass while lying on the ground in the 56th minute which the Swiss-Albanian midfielder struck true to give Colorado a 3-0 lead, one which it would hold onto until the final whistle.

“It feels good,” said Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard. “The signs were there and today was a fantastic performance. I think it was one we needed.”

With Howard backstopping Colorado, the Rapids also looked stout defensively, holding onto the clean sheet despite being out-shot 11-7 and conceding 56 percent of the game’s possession to San Jose.

It was an all-around performance which helped those within the Rapids locker room breathe a sigh of relief.

“Winning and losing games happens on the field and tonight’s performance was the most professional performance I’ve been a part of as the head coach of this club,” said Mastroeni. “From getting on the board, getting that second [goal], getting that third, closing down shop and making it very difficult for our opponents tonight. It was a collective effort. It’s been a long time coming.”