Last-moment heroics from Lalas Abubakar saved the Rapids from last place Wednesday night. Down one, Colorado kept peppering the Houston net until the Rapids’ second-year center back netted his first goal in burgundy five minutes into stoppage time.
“Sam Vines played a great ball to me because he saw me. I took off and he gave me a good cross and it took a little bit of composure there, took a touch, and then finished it,” Abubakar said. “I’m happy that I got my first goal for the club, but ultimately disappointed, especially because we gave up a goal.”
Colorado drew the Houston Dynamo 1-1, but remained winless since March 7.
Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s match:
Four-letter words for forwards?
The Rapids offense has dropped from third-best in MLS last year to third-worst in the Western Conference through nine games. Colorado hasn’t produced a multiple-goal game since July 22. In those four matches, Kei Kamara is the lone forward to score.
Kamara and Diego Rubio each scored in double-figures in 2019, and Andre Shinyashiki won MLS Rookie of the Year for his seven tallies.
The offense buzzed Wednesday in generating 26 shots, seven of which were on target, while connecting on 88.3% of their passes and possessing the ball 65.3% of the match. Still, the Rapids’ problems with finishing continued, with the club getting its only goal on a play involving a left back and center back.
“We need to be a little bit more coordinated and a little bit more efficient,” Robin Fraser said. “We’re close, but we need to get better at being more clinical in order to finish some of these potential opportunities.”
Big offseason acquisition Nicolas Benezet subbed on against Houston after missing three games. In total the winger has missed five games and has only started three.
“It was good to have him back,” Fraser said. “Nico’s been out for a while. It was good to see him get through the minutes that he did, and without any incident.”
Defense settles in
The Rapids have only conceded one score in each of their last three games. Wednesday was the only time they made a change in the unit, opting for the more athletic Auston Trusty over of the experienced Danny Wilson who had started the prior two matches. It was Trusty’s first start since a December trade brought him to Colorado from Philadelphia.
“We have a lot of guys who are good players and have been playing well,” Fraser said. “We have a lot of games coming up and we certainly feel like we can rotate players and keep our level the same. I thought Trusty was solid, won some big headers for us, his distribution was clean. For someone who hasn’t played a game in a long time, I thought he grew into the game quite well.”
It was Trusty’s first start in over a calendar year after he fell out of favor with the Philadelphia Union coaching staff. The 22-year-old already has 57 starts in MLS and is thought to be a part of the future in Colorado.
Meanwhile, the one goal the Rapids did concede came eight seconds into the second half and seemed to be partially William Yarbrough’s fault. Either way, it was a momentary lapse that cost the Rapids.
In a three-game stretch earlier this season, those lapses lasted for about 10 minutes and ended up resulting in multiple goals conceded. Stopping the damage at one may be a tiny sign of growth.
Back at it
The Rapids don’t get any breaks in the schedule soon.
On Saturday, they’re in Utah for the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup. To win the competition for the first time since 2015 the Rapids would need to score five goals and win by three. But even a victory would be big as it would be the club’s first in Rio Tinto Stadium and put the Rapids right back in the playoff picture.
Next Wednesday the Rapids are in Dallas. The final 12 games of this season’s slate, which will start Sept. 19, are expected to be announced in the next few days.