Colorado Rapids striker Kevin Doyle scored his fifth MLS goal of the season in Sunday night’s clash with Real Salt Lake in trademark fashion.
The 32-year-old Irishman, who joined the Rapids on a free transfer in May from Wolverhampton Wanderers, opened the scoring in the 16th-minute at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a thumping header off a cross from compatriot Sean St Ledger – the kind of finish that earned him a reputation as one of English football's biggest aerial threats in the past.
However, the former Reading and Wolves man’s strike was not enough to prevent the hosts from falling to their 13th defeat of the season, as goals from Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland later in the first half saw their Western Conference rivals seal a 2-1 comeback win.
The loss also officially eliminated Pablo Mastroeni’s men from play-off contention ahead of their final three regular-season games, having endured a miserable 2015 campaign which seems them sitting bottom of the West with just 34 points from their 31 matches.
Despite Doyle’s mid-season arrival, the club have only scored a league-worst 30 goals and, while the Republic of Ireland international himself has impressed at times, the lack of service around him has been more than evident.
Nevertheless, while pressure has been building on head coach Mastroeni since last season’s 14-game winless streak, the former club captain is expected to resume his role in 2016, albeit with some structural changes.
The priority now will be to find a big-name No. 10 in the off-season to play behind Doyle but, if the front office manages that, then, with a defence that just conceded just 30 goals this term and promising talents like Dillon Powers at their disposal, there is definite hope for a turnaround.