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Inconsistency becoming a hallmark

May 22, 2012 | 1:06 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Wells Thompson howls after Tyrone Marshall halves Sporting KC's lead in the second half on Saturday. (Photograph by Jonathan Ingraham/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

The Colorado Rapids inability to maintain shape continued to haunt the squad on Saturday as they dug a two-goal first half deficit before rallying to tie Sporting Kansas City 2-2.

While the second-half heroics with goals from Tyrone Marshall and Kosuke Kimura made it feel like a win, it wasn’t. This was a home match against a slumping Kansas City side that had been searching for goals. Plus, it came on the heels of a 2-0 shellacking the Rapids suffered in D.C.

Adjusting: No, Saturday was a demonstration that one-third of the way through the season, the Rapids (5-6-1, 16 points) have yet to adjust to coach Oscar Pareja’a 4-3-3 lineup.

While it would be convenient to blame this difficult transition on the roster, that would not be entirely fair. True, the 2010-11 Rapids struggled every time then-coach Gary Smith tried a 4-5-1 lineup or anything other than a 4-4-2.

However, the team that took the field on Saturday bore little resemblance to the past two seasons. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens, defenders Drew Moor and Kosuke Kimura, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz and forward Conor Casey were the holdover starters from 2011 who started on Saturday.

Excluding Pickens, this means 60 percent of the field players were brought here to meet Pareja’s goals and preferred playing style. So far, there have been some surprising individual performances — see Kamani Hill and Tony Cascio’s contributions — but too many disappointments.

Must Score: The 4-3-3 is an offensive minded set. You will be vulnerable to counterattacks in the 4-3-3, so you have to score goals to make it work. The 4-4-2 would let you fight for the 1-0 result. The 4-3-3 demands that you be comfortable giving up a goal or two.

So far, the Rapids have not found that magic. It’s telling that two defenders scored on Saturday. This is a sign of the importance of set pieces, and also points to a lack of punch in the attack.

Through 12 games the team has a plus-1 goal differential with 17 tallies. No player has more than three goals. The Rapids have been shutout three times, a quarter of the games played. In that same span, the team has scored more than two goals in a game only one time, the April 28 4-0 drubbing of Chivas USA.

And So: What this all means is that the Rapids defense will continue to take blame for getting out of position. Colorado will continue to give up goals. However, don’t judge the back four too harshly. Until Pareja’s men can find combinations that consistently produce chances, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride.

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