Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni pledged to make adjustments on the back line after the Rapids surrendered two goals to the offensively challenged Minnesota United FC on Saturday night. Mastroeni was forced to make changes from the defensive lineup that had allowed only one goal through two games on the season prior to the contest, after the injury of 2016 MLS Defender of the Year nominee Axel Sjöberg.
Mastroeni didn’t just replace Sjöberg in Saturday’s 1-1 tie. He also sat defender Eric Miller, who was guilty of the own goal that gave the New York Red Bulls the victory in the Rapids’ 1-0 defeat on March 11. Mastroeni promoted Mekeil Williams and Bobby Burling to the starting lineup in place of Sjöberg and Miller. He said after the game that, while he thinks that the back line performed well overall, the moments of lapse that the defense had are how they will be judged.
“Overall I think the back line was pretty good, but you only get judged in moments, unfortunately,” Mastroeni said. “You look at two moments, the penalty kick and the second goal, and we could have done so much better with that. Those are things that we really pride ourselves on.”
Mastroeni went on to say that the team will need to adjust on defense moving forward. Jared Watts and Marc Burch played well and probably won’t get taken out of starting lineup, and the coach had good things to say about Burling’s play.
“Bobby [Burling] won a lot of balls in the air and really battled in the right way,” he said.
Whether that means Burling’s place in the starting lineup is safe or not has yet to be determined. All we know of right now is that Mastroeni is going to make some adjustments.
“Those are situations we’re going to need to look at and adjust,” Mastroeni said. “But if you look at the whole game I think we did a pretty good job.”
The coach went on to say that, while the defenders played well for the majority of the game, that the defense didn’t do well enough in allowing two goals. The Rapids’ options on the bench are decidedly inexperienced. Other than the aforementioned Miller, the Rapids have rookie Kortne Ford, who has no regular season MLS experience, Dennis Castillo, whose rookie season was last year when he played sparingly, and the new signee Mike da Fonte, who has USL experience and has played in Portugal.
Mastroeni has time to make his decision, as the Rapids don’t play again until April 9. They originally had FC Dallas scheduled on April 1, but the game was postponed until later in the year because of FC Dallas’ CONCACAF Champions League responsibilities.