The post-Bruce Arena era did not begin well for the Revolution.
After experiencing a season’s worth of drama stuffed into the last week, the Revolution produced a disjointed performance in falling, 2-1, to the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Cole Bassett and Calvin Harris scored early in the second half as the Rapids (4-13-10, 22 points) snapped a four-game winless streak.
The Revolution (13-6-9, 48 points), whose winless streak stretched to three games, fell to third place in the Eastern Conference. The result capped a turbulent week, and raised questions about the team’s prospects with six games left in the season.
Since last week, the Revolution have been dealing with the demise of Arena, who was placed on administrative leave on July 30, his absence not explained beyond references to “insensitive and inappropriate remarks.” Finally, last Saturday, Arena announced his resignation, effective after the Revolution’s 1-1 tie at Minnesota United. The team has spent recent days adjusting to the loss of Arena, who happens be to the country’s most successful coach ever, then to a change in interim coaches as Clint Peay took over from Richie Williams.
The Revolution might have felt more united, as captain Carles Gil noted during the week, but their combinations were off most of the night. They were unable to play out of the back, failed to find Giacomo Vrioni up front, and generally misfired. The Revolution squandered several chances to capitalize on Colorado errors, the Rapids also appearing out of synch under interim coach Chris Little.
So, with the Rapids performing like a last-place team for most of the contest, the Revolution either played down to their level or self-destructed.
The Rapids opened the scoring after taking possession following a Revolution goal kick, Bassett heading in Connor Ronan’s free kick, snapping the Rapids’ 436-minute scoreless streak. The sequence was set up as Andrew Gutman sold referee Rosendo Mendoza on a Nacho Gil foul.
Harris upped the edge with a left-footer in the 62d minute, a sequence started as Andrew Farrell lost possession near the halfway line. Rafael Navarro found Harris, who who took two touches around DeJuan Jones, the Revolution’s best one-on-one defender, and finished inside the back post, then went to the bench to embrace assistant coach Wolde Harris, a former Revolution striker.
The Revoution had chances to cut the deficit, but Vrioni bounced a Gil corner over the bar (73d) minute, before Omar Gonzalez converted off another Gil corner in the second minute of added time.
Observations from Saturday’s game:
Defining moment: After earning a goal kick off a Kevin Cabral miss in the second minute of the second half, the Revolution were unable to retain possession. And their inability to play out of the back proved costly, as Nacho Gil surrendered a free kick, and the Rapids capitalized for the opening score.
Difference-maker: Rapids’ forward Rafael Navarro seldom seemed a threat to score, but he provided a physical presence up front. Navarro combined with Gutman on a throw-in to set up the free kick leading to the opening score, then found Harris for a 2-0 lead.
Tactical: The Revolution’s 4-2-3-1 setup left Vrioni and replacement Bobby Wood in limbo as lone strikers. Arena based much of the Revolution’s style on wing play via the outside backs, but without Brandon Bye (season-ending knee surgery), the threat has been minimized. Yet, the Revolution’s finishing failed on corners and crosses, Vrioni and Farrell misfiring on open headers in the second-half.
Statistical analysis: The Revolution produced 10 corners and 17 crosses before Gonzalez converted. The Revolution were credited with 61 percent possession and outshot the Rapids, 17-8.
By the numbers: The Revolution have compiled a 1-2-4 record in all competitions since Arena was placed on administrative leave on July 30. Before last night, Colorado had scored in only one of 10 games. But, somehow, the Rapids have managed a six-game (2-0-4) home unbeaten streak since May.
Road ahead: The Revolution’s visit to the Chicago Fire wraps up a three-game road trip next Saturday.
What they said: “Listen, I think we still have a lot to play for. I think the players are still obviously very committed to the goal of winning the cup, and that’s what we’re going to strive for each and every day moving forward” – Peay.
Revolution-Colorado Rapids box
COLORADO RAPIDS 2, REVOLUTION 1
COLORADO: Marko Ilic; Keegan Rosenberry, Andreas Maxso, Moise Bombito, Andrew Gutman; Sidnei Tavares (Ralph Priso-Mbongue 29th), Conor Ronan, Cole Bassett (Sam Nicholson 83d); Rafael Navarro (Jonathan Lewis 83d), Calvin Harris (Braian Galvan 68th), Kevin Cabral (Diego Rubio 68th).
REVOLUTION: Earl Edwards Jr.; Andrew Farrell (Ben Sweat 86th), Omar Gonzalez, Dave Romney, DeJuan Jones; Mark-Anthony Kaye, Ian Harkes (Noel Buck 63d); Nacho Gil (Damian Rivera 77th), Carles Gil, Tomas Chancalay (Esmir Bajraktarevic 63d); Giacomo Vrioni (Bobby Wood 77th).
Goals: Bassett 48th, Harris 62d, Gonzalez 90th+2.
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.