There's losing. There's total disaster. And then, five layers below that, is the utter shitshow that transpired Saturday night at DSGP as the Colorado Rapids went down a man, then two, and were completely eviscerated by hated rivals Real Salt Lake by the unbelievable score of 6-0.
There's not a lot to say about this game. I could debate whether either of the two red cards was justified, but what the hell for? They were certainly infractions. A head butt, even a mild one, is uncalled for, and the referee is well within the rules to send Jackson off. And Boateng sticking out his leg at his man's shin is unbelievably dumb; even if he didn't really intend to cause injury, what he did was dangerous. But moreover, both plays resulted in red cards. We can arbitrate them ex post facto till the cows come home, but until someone invents a time machine, nothing will change.
I could analyze the defense - the team was behind by two goals when Boateng was sent off. The defense certainly could have - should have - done better 9 v 11 to salvage some dignity. A 3-0 defeat would've been disappointing but understandable. And in hindsight, even 4-0 would've been nice. But still, I'd be quibbling over 'the degree of the loss', and nothing more. After the second goal went in and Boateng was red-carded, the added goals RSL scored were humiliating, but they didn't change the result. It was 3 points and the cup to Salt Lake whether we lost 1-0 or 6-0.
I don't know that there is much to analyze, anyway. The defense was terrible, start to finish. Every single player defending made bad plays, missed tackles, got out of shape, watched when he should have been reacting, or all of the above. There's not a player in the starting XI who didn't screw up to a significant degree; even the usually reliable Edgar Castillo was off- check the sixth goal. The back four looked atrocious, but that's certainly because the midfield in front of them was as easy to get through as a waterslide slathered in Crisco.
After going down a man, then two men, the defense was absolutely taken apart. Even BEFORE going down a man, the defense wasn't adequate, as the team conceded a goal in just the fifth minute on some really poor defending.
Rewatching all the goals conceded, there were so many things wrong.
- On the first two goals, the central midfield was disorganized and slow to react.
- On the first two goals, the center backs weren't aggressive enough.
- After going to nine men, Anthony Hudson continued with a three-man backline, which was easily exploited for goals three through six. I said the back four looked atrocious. They were even worse as a back three.
I've run out of synonyms that could adequately surpass the word atrocious.
There really weren't any players that didn't have a bad day, except maybe Deklan Wynne, who came on late enough that it didn't matter.
And as a result, it was all very humiliating. RSL came in like a bunch of unruly over-caffeinated eighth graders pouncing on a lone junior chess club member. They kicked us in the nuts, stole our wallet, de-pantsed us, tied our shoes together, dumped a pizza on our heads and then deposited us in a big green dumpster filled with rancid milk. At the school dance. In full view of the girl we had a crush on.
Sure, that's an overwrought metaphor, but let me unpack it a little. The Rapids had little to play for other than this game, the only 'cup' left that could serve to lift the moods of the fans. This game was the last one of the year that mattered. This was our last school dance. And we got humiliated.
Fans are furious - this loss is really the cherry on top of a terrible season. Speaking from experience, the really unfortunate thing about this defeat is that it will be remembered as the signature moment of 2018. In 2017, it was the Watts backpass-own-goal game. In 2016, it was the playoff shootout win at home against LA Galaxy. 2015 is a tougher choice for memorable match. I guess it was losing 2-1 to RSL at home, but winning the Rocky Mountain Cup in the process. Although I have strong memories of the April 4-0 victory on the road to Dallas that snapped an 18 game winless streak. 2014's memorable match is most definitely the game against LA Galaxy in which Joe Nasco received a red card in the first minute. That resulted in a 6-0 drubbing.
Now, with the implosion against RSL Saturday, we have our memorable match of 2018. We can only hope that our signature match of 2019 will provide us with a memory that is warm and fuzzy instead of horrendous and icky. This season will always be remembered by this game, and the feelings of nausea, frustration, and hopelessness that accompanied it.
On the MLS schedule, Colorado has a bye week. But the club travels Saturday to Memphis for an exhibition match with the USL's Tulsa Roughnecks. After losing this last one in such a disastrous manner, this upcoming game against Memphis seems really poorly timed. I think it's great for Tim Howard to have a chance to do a solid for a new team in Memphis with which he will be affiliated, and in general I'm in favor of spreading the gospel of pro soccer.
I'm also relatively neutral on midseason friendlies, although I know that many folks would disagree with me. A lot of people see a match like this as either a crass cash grab by a club, or a massive distraction for a team that should focus on meaningful league matches - or possibly both. The Rapids aren't doing the grabbing of the cash - they're helping Memphis generate excitement for joining the pro soccer world, and there isn't anything from which to be distracted, since the team is essentially done for the season and all the matches from here on out take the same relevance as exhibition matches.
But. The timing on this one is obviously terrible. If the Rapids win, fans will be upset that they could turn in a good effort the week after turning in a terrible effort. If they lose or draw, it will only reiterate how lousy the club is this season.
Tulsa sit dead last in the USL Western Conference with a 2-12-10 record. Even if the team starts a bunch of benchwarmers and Charlotte loanees, as expected, they need to win 3-0 or better to just register an eye-roll from the fans. Any result weaker than that and I'll probably feel like dry-heaving in despair.
I think other fans might feel the same way, but I'm even more concerned for another possibility at this juncture: that nobody even cares. Rapids fans may not be paying attention to anything the team does, exhibition or league-match, until next February. At this point, that seems like an eminently prudent decision.