Despite their top goal scorer from last season being sidelined with injury, the Colorado Rapids offense is finally starting to click.
Things were starting to look grim three games into the season when designated player Kevin Doyle was injured while playing a friendly for the Irish National Team. The Rapids had only scored two goals in three games and their record was 1-1-1 prior to losing their Golden Boot winner from 2015.
Interestingly, it was when the injuries started to mount that the Rapids stepped up. Colorado has won two of their last three games and their latest win was against the top ranked Sporting Kansas City while undermanned.
“I think, we’re facing a lot of adversity at this point in the season, you know we had 14 guys available for this game,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “Guys like Gashi and Marco and Luis were fantastic in the attack tonight.”
Midfielder Marco Pappa has been instrumental to the Rapids’ offensive improvement. Of the five goals scored by Colorado’s offense this season, Pappa was involved in four and accounts for one himself. In this new offense, Pappa could be the connective tissue holding it together.
If Pappa is the connective tissue than Argentinian forward Luis Solignac, rather surprisingly, is the muscle in Doyle’s absence. Solignac had a slow first season with the Rapids in 2015, but he’s already scored two goals this season, and both were off of Pappa passes.
In the Rapids’ latest win, newly acquired designated player Shkëlzen Gashi, scored his first MLS goal by following up off of Dillon Serna’s long-range shot. Gashi is the latest “big gun” from overseas and his goal against Sporting KC could be a precursor of things to come.
“He has a knack for scoring goals, as he has proven in the past. That is not by accident. He finds the moments and capitalizes,” Mastroeni said. “He was opportunistic on his movement to get to the ball. The finish is class and again you can’t teach that. That is talent and hard work from him.”
The Rapids return home for their next match and will be back in action on April 16 against the New York Red Bulls.