Colorado saw a New York City FC side that lived up to every bit of their hype in the early going Saturday night moving the ball quickly, playing keep away from the Rapids, and scoring a world-class goal from Thomas McNamara in the 19th minute.
However, the good news is that the home team rebounded well in keeping the Supporter’s Shield hopefuls at bay the remainder of the game and made their own pressure pay off with Dominique Badji’s late equalizer to share points.
“I think we gave them a little too much respect,” said defensive midfielder Jared Watts of Colorado’s lack of play early on. “They’re obviously a good team with the ball, they like to have a lot of the ball, they like to open up and play a lot with it.”
“We would have liked to start a little bit faster, (McNamara) hit a good goal-great shot-but if we can get a little more pressure on him it would make that shot a little bit harder,” continued Watts in his assessment of the NYCFC cracker. “That’s soccer. That’s just the game. You can’t give quality players the time and an opportunity to shoot.”
The second half saw Tim Howard come up huge with three lights-out saves in the same sequence of the 54th minute to keep Colorado close. His first save rebounded back into the path of Ben Sweat, who’s next shot forced Howard to dive the opposite way in keeping that one out as well. The ball didn’t clear right away and Howard was able to grab a third shot on goal and calm play down.
Fans have gotten used to seeing Watts as a center back paired with Axel Sjoberg or Bobby Burling, but his new role moves him up into defensive midfield alongside Michael Azira in the Rapids lineup-almost as a center back in front of the center backs.
In doing so, as was the case against NYCFC as well, Jared is finding himself in some creative and attacking forward positions which is something he is not accustomed to but doesn’t lack the confidence to be there either. “Mike (Azira) and I like to sit beside each other but if one of us is getting deeper and getting hold of the ball then I try to give a little bit better option for guys higher up the field,” he told The Voice of C38 postmatch.
“My job is to give the guys the ball who are dangerous up there so I just want to connect and make it simple but that was just trying to be a soccer player. It doesn’t matter where you are on the field just make good passes, be smart on the ball, you have to work hard.”
The Rapids also started to gain more confidence as well as forcing their hand on the visitors in an effort to grab more momentum and keep themselves from retreating in defense according to Watts.
“As we stepped up and pressured higher up the field, that was an adjustment (Head Coach Steve) Cookie made at halftime we started putting them under it a little bit and getting possession in better places in the attacking half.”
“We kept them under control for the most part,” said Watts, now solidly entrenched in the midfield. “Once we were better with the ball and higher up the field we were able to get some good chances. We stayed in it and we could have pushed a little bit harder at the end, we didn’t have anything to lose, but it was a really good response to get back into it in the second half.”