You know the saying, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have none at all”. That’s exactly what the Colorado Rapids were feeling after losing at home to DC United on a freakish Jared Watts own-goal in the 27th minute.
After an emotional week for the Rapids, which saw club legend Pablo Mastroeni relieved of his post, it would be hard to expect a fully sharp and focused effort for 90 minutes against DC United Saturday night. Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke saw some of that early on but said that wasn’t necessarily the case, that the team may have tried to put too much into the match early on causing some of DC’s pressure in the first half.
“When we got the ball into midfield we didn’t quite move it quick enough,” Cooke noted. “It seemed we moved the ball laterally across the back a little bit slow, which I would prefer it to be a bit quicker into midfield and break lines.”
“If anything, in the early stages of tonight’s game I thought they might have cared a little bit too much, might have wanted to play so hard and win so badly that it became a little bit nervous. The ball was bobbling off of people’s feet and maybe a stray pass or two, but I think it was more about maybe nerves and wanting so badly because I know how much they cared.”
A switch back to a 4-3-3 formation plugged in midfielders Mohammed Saeid, Michael Azira, and Nana Boateng for the first time together and looked to take some time to become fluid on the night. “I don’t know man, sometimes it just takes time to get used to,” Saeid told The Voice of C38 postgame. “Even though it’s just numbers it takes time to play with each other-3 midfielders, 3 strikers, different roles. It’s very new because it’s only been a couple of days. It might take time but that’s the one thing we don’t have right now.”
Cooke knows the couple of days prior to this match wasn’t an ideal prep time after the shakeup, but did like what he saw performance-wise as the game wore on. “As with anything that changes or adapts, it can’t be done overnight. It’s going to take a long period of time and it’s going to slowly blend itself and the players have to become comfortable and the players have to learn to take risks more. I think tonight we did take those risks, we did go forward, and we did create those numbers, and created some great options inside the penalty area, just outside.”
Hard luck was the story of the second half for Colorado as Kevin Doyle slammed a header off the crossbar in the 50th minute, and Dominique Badji would later see his late-game shot go off the post denying a goal both times. The Rapids even thought they had a great chance at a late equalizer as a ball sent goalward was blocked by what appeared to be a DC defenders arm but was ruled otherwise by the referee.
“I don’t know how to explain it. We hit the post, we hit the bar, the penalty……the referee said they checked it and it was off the chest. Some games you get these calls and others you don’t. When you don’t get these types of calls in these types of games it’s pretty difficult,” said Saeid shaking his head a bit.
“It wasn’t a bad game but at the end of the day we need the results. It’s not really about performances right now it’s about trying to grind results and from there you can build performances.”
Cooke agreed, noting that again it was the little things that made a big difference and could not be overcome on the night. “Tonight wasn’t a lack of performance, a lack of an attempt at going forward and scoring goals, it was really a little bit of bad luck on our part, which we probably contributed to as well, and in front of their goal also a little bit of composure would have sealed a victory.”