Remember that feeling you had the last time you had the stomach flu? Sweating profusely, curled in a ball on your tile bathroom floor, you pulled yourself up with the tiny bit of energy you had, just enough to do a chin up 18 inches off the floor. You tucked your head over the rim of the bowl and hacked a fierce, vile bit of yellowish bile, suspended in snot and water and maybe the pathetic wheat thin you tried to eat in the hopes that something would soak up the acid and calm the beast down below. But instead, here you are again, barfing for the eleventh time in a row. The hurl clears your mouth. You upchuck a few subsequent dry heaves. You collapse to the floor. You feel a lot better. But you also think, maybe, there’s still another barf in you - that it’s not quite done. You can’t decide whether to crawl back into bed, or microwave some chicken soup, or stay hooked around the base of the toilet bowl, imminently ready to launch into action once again.
That’s Colorado, right now. We are on the floor, sick as a dog, and unsure of whether we are about to recover, or whether this awful stretch of misery has only just begun. It's looking pretty clear that we aren’t going to make it to drinks with that pretty girl from our psychology class at 9pm like we had planned, though.
Very little has gone right with the 2018 season. The new manager has not yet crafted a plan of success, as the team is just as bad in 2018 as they were to start 2017.
The newly added back three have been ok in most outings this year. They were terrible against NYC, letting in four goals, each more disappointing than the last. The passing was dreadful: Colorado had a 69% pass rate on the day, and it was the center backs that had some of the lowest rates of success, meaning they were turning over balls in the midfield and in their own third that gave NYC easy chances. Deklan Wynne was 71.4% on passes, Tommy Smith was 77.4%, and Danny Wilson was an awful 67.9%.
The worst passing came from two of the Rapids creative engines, Edgar Castillo and Enzo Martinez, whose passes were virtually 50-50 all game. Castillo was 22 for 37 while Martinez passed successfully only 24 of 41 times. For those that don't pay attention to passing stats, these are terrible, atrocious numbers that bespeak of both a successful defense creating havok and a terrible midfield making poor decisions.
Basically, Patrick Viera knew where the Rapids midfield would look to attack: they want to get the ball to Badji dropping back, or they want the midfielders to come over to the wings and play close passes wide to Castillo or Boateng. So they marked Badji tightly and sent Alexander Ring and Ronald Matarrita and Maxi Moralez into those spots to break up the play. The prime victims here were Castillo and Martinez, each harassed into making poor passes again and again.
Colorado were in trouble from the opening whistle, as the backline nearly conceded a goal in under 30 seconds to Ismail Tajouri-Shradi on a really lovely pass slipped through with great trickery by Jo Enge Berget. It didn’t get much easier from there, as Colorado were out possessed almost constantly for the first 20 minutes. Then Tim Howard made a really ill-advised pass (clearance?) that was intercepted by Yangel Herrera, and in two quick movements, David Villa had buried it in the back of the next for his 401st all-time goal.
At that point, with Colorado behind 1-0, they began chasing the game. They brought Tommy Smith up into the attack and pressing up higher with their outside backs, and it left them exposed. Take a look at this average position map of the Rapids.
Tommy Smith (#5) played the game nearly as high up as midfielder Micheal Azira (#22). It’s not an inherently bad thing - it just puts more pressure on Danny Wilson and Deklan Wynne to be stalwart in defense, since Smith isn't going to be able to get back and defend if he's been pushed up in attack.
Wynne and Wilson, however, were not stalwart in defense. Maye you got that from the 4-0 scoreline.
There is Nothing New Under the Sun
Without turning this article into a rehash of an earlier article, all the same criticisms from earlier this year are still there. The squad selection - Shkelzen Gashi and Dillon Serna and Stefan Aigner and Axel Sjoberg on the bench while Joe Mason and Nana Boateng and Enzo Martinez and Deklan Wynne get to start - those issues are still there.
Tim Howard being a sub-par goalkeeper - that criticism is still there. Tim Howard had that early reaction save which was great! But then he was on the hook for the first goal, and looked out of position and non-responsive on the third and possibly fourth goal. Bad.
Hudson subbed on Jack McBean again. Jack McBean is the answer to a question that nobody is asking.
Worse than losing is losing while watching the same damn problems from four weeks ago come back up again: poor, uncreative play, bad goalkeeping, questionable coaching decisions.
Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony
Usually a new head coach in MLS gets a few months of leeway to institute his system and get his team together. Even a losing season or a missed playoff might be forgiven if it looks apparent that strides are being made in the right direction.
It doesn’t look like that’s happening here in Colorado. From the fans I know and interact with on Facebook and Twitter, everybody is angry with Anthony Hudson. For the losses, yes, but also for the beef with Aigner, and bringing in a bunch of new players that aren’t impressive, and then playing them each game without fail while relegating reliable Rapids veterans to bench roles.
Look at these comments and you’ll see that the Rapids have pretty well spent any goodwill from the fan base that came with hiring a new manager. Granted, these are from the Facebook group, which is always the angriest Rapids place on the internet, but it's pretty representative of the feelings of everyone I've come into contact with.
People are starting hashtags. People are planning chants and banners. Folks are asking me online when it’s time to engage in a full fan revolt. There’s a disconnect between the fans and the front office, again. We’ve been here before, and it is not a good place. It’s a place full of hopelessness and rage and bile. It can only get better if we get honesty and a small degree of commiseration and understanding from Rapids personnel, as well as some inkling that there is an understanding of what’s gone wrong and a path forward to fixing it. We do not need to hear pronouncements that the team just needs to ‘bring their lunch pails’ or overcome through a triumph ‘of the human spirit.’ We need something more tangible than that.
A small rescue party may already be on the way. Reports are that Marlon Hairston and Kortne Ford are rounding back into game-ready form. Some heroic performances from two longtime Rapids who are fan favorites would certainly settle some of the concerns of the fan base. But it’s really important to note at this early stage that fan opinion of Anthony Hudson has swung from ‘excited!’ to ‘concerned’, and we’re only a quarter of the way through the MLS season.
I think there are tactical problems right now. I think there are player selection problems right now. I think there is a talent problem right now. I think there are attitude and self-confidence problems right now. I do think this team is better than they’ve shown to this point, and can get back into playoff contention. But the window for them to do that is soon going to begin closing. You spend too much time puking into a bucket, and you’re going to be put to bed early and miss out on everything interesting.