Rapids fans filed into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to hopefully see their side take down arch rival RSL Saturday night, while looking for, albeit far-fetched, a 4-goal victory to bring home the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time in many years. Instead, those that remained the full 90+ minutes witnessed a historic defeat due to some bad decisions and a few mistakes costing Colorado six goals against.
It seems as if every RSL match this season has included an unthinkable, head-scratching moment when the sky began falling and snowballed against the Rapids. But this time was different, right? Colorado had come off a stretch of 7 points from 4 matches including their weeklong West Coast road trip. Confidence seemed to be returning, chemistry was showing in the play on the field, and players were emerging as regulars.
With a slap back to reality, Head Coach Anthony Hudson stepped up and firstly had a message to the Rapids faithful postmatch, saying, “First, I need to apologize to the fans. Especially at home, they’ve been fantastic. We went into this game off the back of a really good run, prepared, we were confident.”
Going down a goal early is nothing this team hasn’t seen before, nor prevailed against, but the next series of events were too much for the comeback-kids of Colorado to succeed. The red card to Niki Jackson for a headbutt during a set-piece setup, when the referee looks for such incidents, started the downward spiral. “With 10 men, we needed to adjust a couple of things, because we continued to do things how we were doing them with 11 men,” explained Hudson on how the gameplan would need to adjust. “It was just a case of getting to a period where we could adjust a few things.”
However, when a second red card was shown to Nana Boateng, who was already on the disciplinary record with a yellow shown earlier, for kicking out, and the goals started to mount against the disadvantaged Rapids, all one could do was ride out the storm. Hudson hadn’t yet seen the incidents up close, but he did sternly allude to the fact that they were disappointing and the players have to learn how to control those situations.
“When the scoreline got to where it was, you have to try and stay in the game and keep it respectful,” said Hudson, who could only watch as the second half minutes slowly ticked away. “It’s tough. It literally is one of those nights, and I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing it because I think the pain we feel is for the fans, I can’t tell you the amount of work that went into this game. When you get to that stage it’s just trying to contain things.”
That didn’t stop the remaining 9 Colorado players from plowing on valiantly as many, namely Dillon Serna and Kellyn Acosta, kept their foot on the gas regardless of the scoreboard. “Coming in from the second half after twenty-odd minutes just running around you kind of start feeling it a little. It kind of caught up to us,” admitted Acosta after the forgettable night.
“You just have to give it your all-whether it’s a tackle, get on the ball, passes, trying to help your team out any way possible. At the end of the day, people would kill to be in our position so we had to give it our all no matter what. No matter the result-just keep pushing and keep working.”
Going forward, the chances of a 2018 playoff run seem unlikely at this point. However, fans are beginning to see the bright spots and glimpses of what can be a much more productive and organized side for 2019. Acosta is hoping these next two weeks will allow Colorado to take a painful introspective look, reset, and work at what they can build on going forward to end this season. “We’re going to have to review some film and obviously there’s going to be some corrections to make. Even though we were down to 9 men, I thought some of the goals we let in were soft. Mentally, we’ve got to work even harder this week, but we’ve just got to get back to the fundamentals and go from there.”
While Coach Hudson will be the first to say this weekend has to be put behind the team, he for one will keep this in the back of his mind for the next time these two sides meet. “This is something we’re going to remember, because when this comes around next season we’ll be in a much different place.”