What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Nobody particularly likes to lose. This much is painfully obvious, but it bears repeating. A 1-0 loss to our rivals — the first loss we've suffered to them since, what, 2009? — certainly fits that description. Nobody really liked watching it, did they? It's far from the end of the world, but it's a frustrating occasion.
See, we just never looked like we had that edge we needed. In Europe, this would be quickly dismissed as a case of the 'continental hangover,' brushed off, and moved on with. It's not to excuse the result, but it's to temper it a bit. Part of performing well enough to win involves having the right levels of energy. It was fairly obvious that we didn't have that.
After the first half, we seemed sluggish. Passes were missed, connections weren't made, and chances just didn't materialize. Now, in the first half, we had a few options. Justin Braun, for his part, got his head on a couple balls and we were nearly able to capitalize. Good positioning and response from the goalkeeper kept things level, though, as Braun scrapped for every ball that came his way.
But Justin Braun looked very much a player who was still finding his feet with the club. At times, his positioning was a little odd — he tried, it seemed, to play where Fabian Espindola would be seen, but his skillset is less focused on the dribbling that it takes to cut in from deep in the left side of midfield.
Indeed, even our defensive line — from a defensive perspective — looked fairly solid. This was a good thing, because our midfield simply conceded too many opportunities on our side of the pitch. That the Rapids only scored the once was down to a few things: Nick Rimando was on top of his game, our central defenders got in the way of shots (six blocked, quite a feat), and barring the one error, looked dominant.
But our midfield. Oh, our midfield. I don't know what happened to our midfield. The midfield is perhaps where the most grueling work takes place, the most running — and ours is no exception. Nothing really worked there. Players were isolated, plays didn't work, and generally, it just wasn't what we needed to see. A word for Ned Grabavoy, though, who did well, considering: 37/40 passes completed, 3/3 tackles successfully made. On a night when our midfield just wasn't there, that wasn't such a bad thing to see. It's the little things.
It's hard to say what we could have done differently. If we had a deeper squad, we'd have been in better shape, but my opinion on the possibilities of squad depth in MLS have been stated here before. It is worth also remembering that in 2010, our CCL group included Toronto FC, and the only matches we won after CCL came after facing Toronto — a side we knew something about and didn't have to travel great distances to.
Right, I don't know what to say other than that. It wasn't the best result, was it? But it's not the end of the world. Heads up and all that.