Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rapids Jeckle and Hyde Defense

Most teams in Major League Soccer struggle to win on the road. The Colorado Rapids are no exception. Over half way through the 2008 season and the Rapids have a single win on the road. Worse than that, they have yet to pick up a tie on the road. In soccer part of the game is finding a way to pick up points on the road, even if it's just a tie.

While the Colorado Rapids have only allowed 5 goals in 8 home games, they've allowed 15 in their 7 road games. While that's not the worst in the league, Toronto FC have allowed 16 in 6 games, it's still horrible.

After the 2007 season, when the Colorado Rapids missed the playoffs, much was made by Fernando Clavijo and other Rapids officials about their defense. They had the 3rd best defense in the league as measured by goals allowed (GA). As I mentioned awhile ago (old post here), in looking at how the defense did I felt the GA was better than the defense had deserved.

In 2006 the Colorado Rapids allowed a whopping 49 goals in 2006. That was bad enough to be worst in the MLS (tied with then 2nd year Real Salt Lake). 34 goals allowed in 2007 was a huge improvement. While they're scoring more goals, Clavijo's Rapids are on pace to let in nearly that many, 32, while on the road this year.

As many of us fans of the beautiful game know, goals are sexy but to advance in a tournament or the playoffs, a team needs to have a stingy defense. If the Rapids are going to get points on the road, important if they are to make the playoffs, let alone advance in the MLS playoffs they need to find a way to stop the opposing team from scoring goals. Surely that shouldn't be too tall a task for the Rapids. After all they're coached by Fernando Clavijo who played defense for the US National Team.

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