Colin Clark is just one of the many Rapids players who has yet to find the back of the net. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Rapids have had a fantastic year defensively, but their offense has left a lot more than just something to be desired.
The leader in both goals and assists on the team is Conor Casey with six and three respectfully. That's not good enough to be top five in either category MLS-wide and it certainly doesn't look as good when you see the steep drop off after that. Omar Cummings has scored four goals but has no assists to his name. Mehdi Ballouchy has two, good for a sad third most on the team. The only other five Rapids to score have had one goal a piece, for a grand - if you want to use the word "grand" - total of only 15 goals.
Compare the Rapids to the current MLS champions for a minute; Real Salt Lake has a fantastic defense, just like the Rapids do. They've got a GAA of 0.73, just as stifling as the Rapids defense has been. The difference between the clubs successes is way goal-scoring here. The Royals from Utah have scored 28 goals this season, almost twice as many as the Rapids have. The difference is right there in wins, folks. 9-3-3 versus 6-4-4. RSL is winning their games with defense, but they're winning any close games they have with offense. Their secret? Tons of players with great goal-scoring ability. Alvaro Saborio has seven goals for them. Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales both have four a piece. They have several players with three as well. Compared to the paltry number of players that have scored in a Rapids uniform this season it makes the Rapids offense look like a high school squad. Even the great Conor Casey's six goal total looks much less impressive when you realize three of them have come from the penalty spot.
The finishing touch of our scorers has been a big issue as well. When you only have two tried and true finishers on the team, you have to hope that just about every close opportunity they get will result in a goal. Unfortunately, anybody who has watched the Rapids this year have seen the numerous whiffed opportunities, shots that have carved the woodwork from close range and badly executed free kicks that have been plaguing the Rapids this season. In fact, anybody who has watched the last two games will have seen plenty of examples; watch Casey's big whiff in the box during the Red Bull game on the 4th of July for my favorite example.
Claudio Lopez rejoining the team should hopefully spark some more offense out of this team - he did help immensely in the final minutes against Toronto and his one shot on goal was the best Rapids chance to equalize all game - but even the aging forward/wingers reappearance might not stop the bleeding, as it were. Fortunately, coach Gary Smith has indicated that he will not just stand pat here, and will indeed try during the now-open MLS transfer window to get "more creativity" onto the team. Hopefully creativity will equal a couple more in the back of the nets of the Rapids opponents. The Rapids face Kansas City tomorrow as they try and get a new unbeaten streak started in the mile high city... or at the very least not suffer yet another 1-0 loss.