We are getting to the point in the season where we are starting to see the true colors of a lot of teams around MLS. There is still some wiggle room, but the picture is getting clearer. Portland, LA and Columbus are beginning their rise, meanwhile Houston and NYCFC have plummeted. It’s too soon to start writing anyone in, but certain teams look ready to hang around at the very least.
One of those teams is, somewhat surprisingly, the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids have risen to second place in the West and they are only getting better with each passing week.
Most of the Rapids’ success thus far into the season has been on the backs of the defense. Only six goals surrendered ranks them at first in the West and second in the overall MLS standings, defensively speaking. The big concern was the offensive side of things, where they were only managing to put in a goal a match. In fact, it took up until mid April for them to score two goals, but in the three games since, they have scored two, two and three goals.
And it’s not like their opponents were pushovers – Sporting Kansas City, the New York Red Bulls and the Seattle Sounders.
Is it just a fluke though? After all, Real Salt Lake was riding high and they just got pummeled by the LA Galaxy.
Make no mistake about the Rapids, they are no fluke. For starters, that defense is still holding tight. It is their bread and butter. However, we have to move into the offensive sphere to see what makes this form maintainable.
It can be summed up in one sentence: Jermaine Jones is here and few others have fully clicked yet.
Colorado did not have Jermaine Jones for their first six games. However, since joining up, he has been unstoppable. He has scored two goals and added an assist in his two matches, leading Colorado to five goals scored. Meanwhile the defense is still hanging tough. They still have yet to give up more than a goal in any match.
On to the rest of the offense. This is a very experienced team. Between Jones, Shkelzen Gashi, Marco Pappa and Kevin Doyle, there is a lot of knowledge to go around. However, aside from Jones, few others have reached their full potential yet. Gashi won the Swiss golden boot for two consecutive seasons. That has yet to shine through.
Meanwhile, Kevin Doyle has been out injured and has been temporarily replaced by Luis Solignac, who has bulged the net three times since Doyle went down.
That means that this Rapids offense is starting to improve without two of their would-be key contributors. Jones has enough experience to be this reliable all season, so there shouldn’t be any concern that he will fade. Add to this defense the incoming Tim Howard and there is reason to believe that this Rapid’s team really is as good as they are leading us to believe, if not better.