Vicente Sánchez came to town to help raise the rising Rapids. The rest of MLS should consider extra flood insurance.

He worked hard on every play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night when the Rapids shut out the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-0. After an excellent combination on the right wing with Marvell Wynne, he lofted a perfect cross to Deshorn Brown for the first goal.

During one of the training scrimmages this week, Sánchez looked like he had already seen the movie. His darting runs with and without the ball put him a step or two ahead of his colleagues, and his quickness added another step or two. He tucked away two finishes in the scrimmage, both the result of sticking with the play as it appeared to be broken up. Dillon Serna made a great tackle to prevent Gabriel Torres from scoring, but Sánchez cleaned up for a goal.

Torres had a couple goals himself during the scrimmage, both calm tuck-aways. So it was a surprise to see him miss spectacularly on Saturday. He appeared to be trying too hard.

After the game, Oscar said he was happy to see Torres create and discover the chances. Walk before you run. Oscar noted the other nice touches and contributions from his Panamanian DP, yet he was honest, critical, and hopeful that Torres will settle down and score in the coming games.

The two-week break threatens to turn the team flat like an open soda. The antidote, perhaps, will look like an extension of the rich training sessions in Commerce City. More than 30 guys flood the practice field with enthusiasm and competence. From the recovering/recovered veterans and academy players to the rock-solid starters, the entire group trains hard and looks unified in its pursuit of complete interchangeability.

When Oscar replaced Sánchez with Martin Rivero, it was like-for-like, essentially. Both players provide creative spark up front, but neither is a prima donna who doesn’t play defense. The unused field players (German Mera, Jamie Castrillon, and Anthony Wallace) represent the top of the replacement crop. But after watching the full group train this week, it looked like Oscar could field three separate starting 11s against Vancouver for the rest of the season. It would be tactically stupid, of course. My point: Rapids have depth, and the players show an attitude of complete camaraderie.

Competition for playing time is healthy… Individuals improve when they’re pushed… Players in the limelight shadows have something to prove…

Surely individuals are considering themselves when talk turns to playing time and the value judgment of one player over another. But this isn’t obvious to me in the locker room. I honestly thought Edson Buddle was going to score on his first touch on Saturday, and I wasn’t surprised at his deflected insurance strike (well not “how” it went in but the fact that he scored). After the game, he maintained his calm, long-term wisdom about the goal, his role on the team, and the complete team chemistry. I believe him, and I believe the team’s greatest strength is its collective presence as a multi-limbed, singular beast with interchangeable parts.

Or, according to Eduardo Galeano’s definition of a soccer team: “11 heads, 22 legs, and one heart.”

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