FRISCO, Texas – For the Colorado Rapids, the potential of losing key contributors in an already distasteful season could prove more frustrating than the final score of Tuesday night's floundering 3-1 US Open Cup defeat at the hands of hosts FC Dallas.
Axel Sjoberg, Dillon Powers and Shkelzen Gashi all left the game with injuries. The former two were both gone by the 34th minute. The third departure forced the Rapids to play shorthanded for the final minutes of the match when they desperately were seeking a second equalizer.
Instead, Javier Morales' 89th-minute free kick goal added insult to injury for a Rapids team that sits in last in the Western Conference and might've benefited from the morale boost of a cup run.
Colorado coach Pablo Mastreoni declined to speak to reporters after the match, but could be heard yelling at his team behind closed doors.
Disappointing performance aside, his players didn’t shy away from how a series of unfortunate events changed the game
“Injuries come,” said defender Dennis Castillo after the match. “Who would have said in less than 10 minutes Axel would have been out, you know? Key players to the team. But it is what it is. You have to adjust and adapt and kind of take the guys who come into those roles and keep playing – put them into the right positions.”
Added goal scorer Michael Azira: “We lost two people from the game [before halftime]. They scored that second goal, and I thought we lost some people. They got off the field, and I felt that was kind of a bummer for us. We went down a little bit. We could have done better.”
Castillo said he hadn't received word on anyone injured player's status, and no one who had was taking questions.
Azira said he thought his side still should've had a better response to adversity. But he also said Mastroeni's view of the performance wasn't as harsh as it seemed from the other side of the wall.
“We had control of the game, then we lost some players due to injuries. That changes the plan and how you want to play on the road,” Azira said. “It was bad for us, and then they scored. We could have done better in defending, but at the end of the day, the coach was proud of the guys and how everyone put in the effort. That’s very important to the guys to stay positive and move onto the next one.”
The Costa Rican Castillo agreed that, given their current woes this season, the Rapid can’t dwell on the potential absence of anyone in the team, no matter how long it might be.
“In the end, we can mention a bunch of factors that could play in the result, but its futbol,” Castillo said. “It’s what it is. Right now as bad as we could feel, we have to move on and prepare toward the next game.”