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Early lead not enough for woeful side

July 18, 2012 | 6:13 pm 1
By Shaun Schafer

In November 2010, the Colorado Rapids took to a cold Toronto field and won an MLS Cup. On Wednesday night, the team took the same field with hopes of linking “playoff” and “aspirations” into a reality.

Playing in a stadium where the Rapids were 0-5-0 against the home team, Colorado saw those hopes vanish in yet another 2-1 loss. The Rapids have fallen to 7-12-1, seventh place in the Western Conference, and lost six of the past seven games. They are four points out of playoff position, but it is becoming difficult to see when they will pick up another point.

The loss marked the fourth time in 12 losses this season that the Rapids took a 1-0 lead and lost 2-1. For first-season coach Oscar Pareja, it was a familiar failure, and it puts his future in a precarious position.

Pareja has had to abandon the attacking formation that he favored. Other than Hunter Freeman on Wednesday night, none of his new arrivals produced positive moments on the field. Learning on the job has turned a past champion and solid playoff team into a squad that has regressed on defense and can’t produce in the attack.

Casey Strikes: Conor Casey shut out the early jitters and rewarded his coach for another start by picking out a header from Freeman and turning it into the goal in the 23rd minute. It was the striker’s second goal of the season and the mirror image of the first one he scored against the Portland Timbers.

Atonement: Ryan Johnson made up for missing his PK in the 3rd minute by picking up a loose ball and scoring past Matt Pickens in the 51st minute. Andrew Wiedeman then redirected the ball into the net past Pickens in the 68th minute to complete the comeback for Toronto.

Formation Switch: Reflective of a team that had lost five of six matches, the Rapids came out in a new formation. After losing the battle in the midfield against Dallas, the Rapids reverted from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2.

In the early going, it did not look good. The team lacked cohesion and gave up a penalty kick after an easy ball down the middle left Pickens in a precarious position.

Pickens committed the foul, guessed right on the PK, and got some help from the woodwork in the 3rd minute.

Casey’s Record: His strike in the 23rd minute was his 50th career goal in 114 matches.

Next Up: The Rapids face Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday. On Tuesday, the team returns to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for an exhibition battle with Swansea City.

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