Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baudet official, finally

In news that surprises nobody, the Rapids officially announced the signing of French defender Julian Baudet today. He fills the roster spot created when Gregory Richardson was waived last week. Richardson wasn't getting any playing time and reportedly had some attitude issues, so this has to be seen as an upgrade. Baudet will be able to play once the official transfer window opens on July 15th, which means the earliest we'll see him is the game in DC on July 18th.

As a center back it raises the question of who goes to the bench so he can play. Right now I would say Gibbs. I think Palguta has shown great improvement and has been pretty solid the last couple of games, while Gibbs still seems to be less than 100% committed at times.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scoreless in Seattle

OK, I don't feel much about this 3-0 loss. Needless to say the team was tired after 2 games in the previous 8 days and just didn't have enough in the tank for the second half. Cummings hit the woodwork a PK early, Keller stoned Clark very early, and the Sounders managed to get out to a 1-0 lead, forcing Colorado to push the game. The more we pushed, and the more tired we got, the more the Sounders took advantage. Chalk this one up to a learning experience on how to pace yourselves in a 3 game week and move on.

Other Observations:
  • Until Pablo's sub in the 72nd minute the back 4, plus Pablo and Pickens, played every minute of the 3 games with the exception of Palguta's sub in the last 6 minutes of the DC game. Not surprising they found it hard to keep up with Montero and Jaqua.
  • By pulling Pablo and not using Cooke I think Smith decided around the 70th minute to throw the towel in on this game. I can't say I blame him.
  • Yeah, that's all I've got on this game. After the amazing USA-Brazil game, following up with the less than stellar play of the Rapids made it hard for me to really focus on the game.
Player of the Game: Colin Clark, for lack of a better choice

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rapids Make First MLS Trip to My Hometown

The Rapids make their first trip for an MLS game to my hometown of Seattle on Sunday. And when I say my hometown I mean that literally. The hospital I was born at is on the hill above Qwest Field. Its an afternoon game on Sunday with a 2pm MDT starting time. Those supporters that didn't make the trip to Seattle will be at the British Bulldog as always.

On a special note, I found out that this morning that my cousin Sarah and her husband Rob, Sounders season ticket holders (and regular readers will recognize Rob from some comments he's posted here), welcomed their first child into the world. Abigail Schmicker was born at 6am and everyone is healthy and happy. I sent her a stuffed Marco Van Bison to try to keep the corrupting influences of the Sounders fans at bay. ;) Congratulations Rob and Sarah!

Official Injury Report:
PROBABLE: MF Terry Cooke (L knee sprain)

Official Discipline Report:

International Absences:
Conor Casey (U.S. National Team)

Seattle has 4 players listed as doubtful and Ljungberg, Le Toux, and Zakuani are listed as probable. I expect at least 2 of those 3 will play, but they don't have much flexibility. My guess on the Rapids lineup:

Ihemelu - Gibbs - Palguta - Harvey
LaBrocca - Ballouchy - Clark
Cummings - Noonan

Yep, the same 11 that started the Dallas game. I just don't see many changes to be made that would improve the side, unless Cooke is ready to go. Given that he's still probable and we're playing on turf I'm guessing they won't risk him for more than a late game sub if we're losing.

Key To Look For:

3 games in a week. This is the first time the Rapids have had to deal with it this season (The USOC play-in games were played as reserve games essentially) and we'll have to see what they have left in the tank. We don't want to be behind late and have to push on tired legs.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Omar Cummings. I don't think we have the ability to beat Kasey Keller twice without our Casey. We're going to be too tired to keep a shutout, especially on turf. I just think this game has draw written all over it. Omar will be able to keep his nice run going though and make a serious bid for Player of the Month before leaving for the Jamaica National Team.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Witness the Power of this Fully Armed and Operational Dallas Team!

Admiral Ackbar was right (as usual), this was a trap game and the Rapids walked right into it. I'm not going to spend much time recapping the game. The Rapids played lousy, Dallas played worse, and both teams had one defensive breakdown that lead to a goal.

In the first half the Rapids controlled the game. Then Ihemelu his a weak pass forward to nobody that Dallas immediately turned around and pushed forward on. Ihemelu compounded his mistake by not holding the offside line (but Ballouchy also did it), allowing Cooper to chip the ball to a wide open Ferreira behind the defense and he popped it over an on-rushing Pickens for an undeserved 1-0 lead.

Colorado looked like they were going to suffer their first loss at home until Cummings decided to continue this great run he's on. Ballouchy, making up for his earlier poor play, sent a nice through ball into the Dallas box in the 85th minute. Cummings split two defenders to get to it and went far post past the Dallas keeper to level the game.

My key to the game was not to overlook the game. Oops. The Rapids played like they could just show up and win against a Dallas team that is starting to find itself, and Dallas took advantage. This was a game that we should have won but by our play at times we were lucky to get a draw.

Other Observations:
  • OK I picked the lineup, the Rapids score, and the Rapids scorer correctly. I just didn't foresee Dallas scoring.
  • The first sub was pulled straight from Clavijo's coaching playbook. LaBrocca was our best player up to that point, why pull him out?
  • Ballouchy regressed last night. Poor game from him.
  • Colin had some nice runs last night, but couldn't get shots on target.
  • In fact most of the Rapids had a hard time knowing where the goal was. Omar had 2-3 great heading chances that went off-target.
  • Pablo was pushing up for the second straight game, interesting to see this new addition to our midfield.
  • Ihemelu's one brain fart per game appears to be back. Let's hope its a one time thing.
Player of the Game: Nick LaBrocca. Credit to Omar for getting the goal, but LaBrocca was the only player out there that played every minute he was on the field.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Its a Trap!!!

First we get 2 weeks between games, then we get 4 days. Such is MLS scheduling. The Rapids are right back at it after their win against DC over the weekend. Tomorrow night Dallas is in town for their first of two trips in the next 2 and a half weeks to Denver. Game time is 7:30pm at the Dick and even though its a weeknight the supporter's groups will still be hosting the tailgate 2 hours ahead of time.

Official Injury Report:
PROBABLE: MF Terry Cooke (L knee sprain)

Official Discipline Report:

International Absences:
Conor Casey (U.S. National Team)

Dallas has 5 players listed as out and a 6th listed as Questionable so they're going to have a hard time just filling out the 18-man roster card. My guess on the lineup:

Ihemelu - Gibbs - Palguta - Harvey
LaBrocca - Ballouchy - Clark
Cummings - Noonan

Hey, if its not broke, don't fix it. 10 of this group started in the 3-0 shellacking of Dc on Saturday and I expect Gary Smith to pretty much stick with the same lineup. The only change i see is Peterson sitting and Ballouchy starting. Peterson didn't do well on the right on Saturday and was subbed at half.

Key To Look For:

This has trap game written all over it. Midweek game at home against an opponent that looks pretty easy in the standings. If the rapids overlook this game towards the road trip to Seattle on Sunday hey will pay for it. If they keep their minds on the team in front of them they should be able to handle Dallas.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Omar Cummings. I think the short rest time and the trap nature of this game will keep the Rapids from really controlling the play. When push comes to shove though the Rapids are better than Dallas and they'll settle down long enough to finish the job.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rapids Go ID4 on DC

DC came into Colorado on an 8 game winless streak in the Mile High City. They left with a 9 game winless streak and wondering what the hell hit them. The Rapids scored early and often tot ake DC out of the game. It started in the 11th minute when Pablo played a through ball out of the back that Cummings ran onto. He pushed the ball past a sliding defender, leaped over him in stride, and put it past the keeper into the far side netting. The Rapids kept the pressure up and in the 30th minute hit the post and the crossbar in 5 seconds off a corner kick. Pickens had to come up big to keep DC scoreless, then Omar capped the half by jumping on a weak backpass by DC's left back Avery John, sprinting through to claim the loose ball, rounding the keeper, and firing home from a very tight angle once again into the far side netting.

The second half was much like the first. In the 49th minute Cummings took a flick-on header from Peterson to the baseline, cut inside, and toe poked the ball across the box to an onrushing Colin Clark. Clark managed to put the ball right at the keeper but hit it with such force that the keeper could only deflect it into the net. After the 3-0 lead the fight pretty much went out of DC. Pickens had to come up with two big saves to preserve the shutout, but the Rapids pretty much controlled the game and got their first shut out against 11 men of the season.

My key to the game was Christian Gomez vs. Pablo Mastroeni. In was actually Nick LaBrocca who hung on Gomez all night and he kept him from getting anything started. Already missing Emilio, Moreno, and Fred with Gomez being blanketed out of the game DC really had no attacking options. Well done by LaBrocca.

Other Observations:
  • I want to point out my game preview prediction. 2-0 with goals by Cummings and Clark. OK, I didn't see Omar getting 2 goals, but otherwise that's a pretty good prediction.
  • Everyone had a good game and I don't have time to go through them all, but there are a couple of players I want to call out in particular.
  • Scott Palguta - Best game in MLS so far. Looking like a great fund by Steve Guppy.
  • Matt Pickens - Put in a bid for MOTM with his saves.
  • Colin Clark - figuring out when to pass and when to dribble which is making him dangerous.
  • Pablo Mastroeni - Played more 2-way ball than I've seen in a long time.
  • Pat Noonan looked rusty, but he showed a few good flashes. Once he gets back into game shape and gets used tot he altitude he'll be a good fill in up front.
  • The Rapids have tied their second best single season undefeated streak at 7 with this win. The record is 9, counting Shootout losses as draws.
Player of the Game: Omar Cummings. 2 goals, 1 assist, MLS Player of the Week honors. Easy choice.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rapids Try to Divide United

After a week of the Rapids are finally at home, hosting DC United. This is the start of 9 home dates in the next 12 games stretched over the summer. Game time is 7:30pm at the Dick, with the supporter's tailgate starting at 5:20, and all are welcome!

Official Injury Report:
PROBABLE: MF Terry Cooke (L knee sprain)

Official Discipline Report:
TWO CAUTIONS FROM SUSPENSION: Conor Casey, Cory Gibbs, Ugo Ihemelu

International Absences:
Conor Casey (U.S. National Team)

DC is missing two big pieces of their lineup, Jaime Moreno and Fred, but they have nobody missing on international duty.. My guess on the lineup:

Kimura - Ihemelu - Gibbs - Harvey
LaBrocca - Ballouchy - Clark
Cummings - Noonan

Smith has said that he likes to use Kimura at home, so I think Palguta will be the 5th wheel on the 4 man backline this week. Cooke's injury will probably have him coming off the bench. I'm guessing Pat Noonan will get his first start as a Rapid.

Key To Look For:

Christian Gomez vs. Pablo Mastroeni. With Fred and Moreno out Gomez is really going to be the key to the DC attack. Pablo spent last year training with Christian and should know what to expect. Gomez will also be looking to prove something to Jeff Plush and Gary Smith after his less than impressive season here in Colorado last year. If Pablo can keep Gomez contained DC won't have much to work with. If Gomez goes off like he's still capable of doing from time to time we could be in for a long night.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Omar Cummings and Colin Clark. DC had to work hard just to get a draw in Seattle midweek. With their injuries a shutout should be achievable for the Rapids (finally). We'll get a goal early and then by the end of the game DC will be tired at altitude which will allow us to get a second. If we're as good as we think we are, this is a game we should win.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ivan Guerrero: Contract Terminated

The Rapids have just issued a press release:

The Colorado Rapids announced today that a mutual agreement with defender/midfielder Ivan Guerrero has been reached that will terminate his contract with the team.

Obviously a player that didn't fit into Gary Smith's system, since he saw no playing time in the league this year. Its been long rumored that he was in talks with a team in his native Honduras, so I assume he'll be heading back there now. This opens a roster position for Julian Baudet, and Guerrero's $154K almost covers the $175L salary of Pat Noonan.

The guaranteed contract date is July 1st, so I expect we'll see another move or two before then.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weekend Roundup 6/13 - 6/14

Colorado Rapids - The Rapids had the week off before their 3 games in 7 days next week.

CD Tenerife - PROMOTION! LA LIGA!!! CDT went into Girona needing just a point or a Hercules draw or loss to clinch promotion. Hercules dominated their game, winning 4-1, so it was no Tenerife to get a result, and with a 40th minute goal from Kome they did, holding out for a 1-0 victory and starting the party. I'm pretty sure Santa Cruz de Tenerife is still rocking. Next year it will be visited by the likes of Kaka, Christiano Ronaldo, and Thierry Henry, and not just because they're coming to the tropics for vacation. With one game to play CDT leads Xerez by 2 in the goal differential tiebreaker and Real Zaragoza by a point. Xerez travels to 17th placed Celta Vigo and Zaragoza travels to 5th placed Rayo Vallencano white Tenerife hosts 8th placed Castellon. As long as the team isn't hung over from this week's parties they should be able to handle Castellon, which means Xerez will have to win by 3 goals more than CDT (Since CDT wins the third tiebreaker, goals scored, by 6) in order to take the title from them. We'll know by noon MDT on Sunday!

Kildare County - County lost by one goal at home again to Athlone Town. The "good" news is that this was a FAI Cup game, so it didn't hurt their league standing. Of course they're out of the Cup now. Its now a 14 game losing streak though where they've been outscored 46-6.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pat Noonan to Colorado

Steven Goff is reporting that the Crew have traded Pat Noonan to the Rapids. No word in what the Rapids have given up (if true). There was an article over the weekend that said that Gary Smith expected to announce a trade for a forward this week, and this seems to fit the bill. I'll post more info if/when it becomes available.

UPDATE: The Crew sent out a press release making it official. The Rapids get Pat Noonan in exchange for our natural 1st round pick next year and allocation money.

I think this is a good trade for Colorado. Noonan is a proven MLS attacking midfielder/striker and the Rapids desperately need some depth in that area. In exchange we give up allocation money, and int he Rapids history the use of allocation money has always been more miss than hit, and a first round pick. The draft is becoming less important with each passing year, and the rapids have managed to find some gems in the draft even without a 1st round pick.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Weekend Roundup 6/6 - 6/7

Colorado Rapids - The comeback draw in SLC allowed the Rapids to catch Seattle in the standings. They now share 3rd in the West and 5th overall, but 3 of the teams ahead of them have played 2 more games than Colorado, and Seattle has played 1 more. Chivas still has a 6 point lead on the rest of the field. The Rapids are tied with Columbus and KC for the 4th best offense and LA for the 4th best defense. Not bad for a team that's played 7 of their first 11 on the road.

CD Tenerife - Tenerife has possibly their biggest game of the season as they hosted leaders Xerez in the Heliodoro Rodríguez López Stadium. With a win CDT would match them on points and put them just short of promotion. The game started well with a goal at 15 minutes, only for disaster to strike 12 minutes later when Ricardo saw red. Even a man down though Tenerife could not be stopped and not only did they defend their lead they added to it with a vital goal in the 84th minute to claim a 2-0 win. That second goal evens the first tiebreaker (Aggregate head-to-head) with Xerez and gave CDT a two gaol lead in the second tiebreaker (Goal differential). With two games to play Tenerife is on top of the Segunda Division. Not only that but they have a 6 point lead on the 4th placed team, Hercules, the only team not in a promotion spot that can catch them. Since CDT loses the tiebreaker with Hercules and with Rayo Vallecano in 3rd they are not yet assured of promotion, but all they need is one draw in their last two games or Hercules not to win one of their last two games to be assured of being in La Liga next season. Of the 4 teams in running for promotion Xerez has a much easier schedule than the other two, and are favorites to win the division, but Tenerife has the second easiest schedule with a road game at the 14th placed team and then the season finally at home against the 9th placed team. nothing's official yet, but CDT is very, very close now.

Kildare County - County lost by one goal at home again to Longford Town, but for the first time all season they scored 2 goals! Another small step. Its now a 13 game losing streak though where they've been outscored 44-5. Amazingly a 2 game win streak might get them to safety though.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Depth Tested, Omar Comes Through

Sorry about the delay. Work is very busy right now and will be the rest of the month so don't be surprised to see other delays.

The Rapids came into Sandy short-handed, got more short-handed throughout the game, and still managed to walk out with a point and int eh driver's seat of the Rocky Mountain Cup. Colorado lined up as expected with Pablo and Casey gone. LaBrocca slid back and opened up a spot for Cooke and Peterson moved into Casey's spot. The teams were fairly even until midway through the first half when Terry Cooke went down with a knee injury. With the only offensive sub on the bench being rookie Ross Schunk, Gary smith asked Kimura to try something new and Kosuke slotted into the midfield. At this point FSL took the game over, controlling play for the rest of the half and the Rapids were lucky to go to the locker rooms scoreless.

Gary Smith and Steve Guppy figured something out at half though, because they pushed players into the midfield, making it a 4-5-1, and this allowed the Rapids to control the early part of the second half. FSL did eventually turn the momentum and after a number of good chances they missed, in the 79' Movsysian managed to get some space int he box, beat 3 Rapids, and slot a goal home. I'm still not sure how the ball got through without hitting anyone. At this point Smith made a move to try to get us back in the game, pulling Scott Palguta to get Schunk his first league playing time. The never-say-die attitude that has been so missing in recent years came through again, and in the 88' Cummings took a ball from Ballouchy, turned into space, and rifled a shot over Rimando and off the crossbar to tie the game. The goal is currently leading the Goal of the Week voting. After that the Rapids closed up to protect the draw and got out of Utah with the point.

My key to the game was taking FSL out of the game. We didn't come anywhere close. Besides the first 20 minutes of the second half FSL controlled most of the game. They just couldn't take advantage by scoring, and a great shot from Omar saved us. After Cooke went out it was obvious the Rapids were happy to play for the 0-0 draw, and that attitude almost cost us.

Other Observations:
  • I love the fact that, unlike under Clavijo, just because we're behind doesn't mean we're going to lose.
  • Even when Cooke was in we weren't real adventurous going forward, without him we became a purely defensive team. Given that we're going to be without Casey for the next 2 home games we're going to have to figure out how to control the game without him.
  • Another solid game for Ballouchy. Maybe Clavijo really was his problem.
  • For a young guy asked to play out of position I thought Kimura did a great job. He was more dangerous at times than Colin Clark,
  • Clark didn't have a bad game, but he could have done better I think.
  • 6 players didn't travel to SLC (by league rules). 4 of them (Pablo, Casey, Guerrero, O'Brien) were dealing with different teams and Ceus is a third-string keeper and never travels. The odd man out was Gregory Richardson. you have to figure he's the next cut if we find another striker.e.
  • I correctly predicted the 1-1 draw, though I thought Clark would score not Cummings.
Player of the Game: Omar Cummings. Nobody looked real good this game, I thought about Kimura, but Omar gets the nod for the goal.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rapids Go To SLC Without Their American Idols

The Rapids make their first trip to Sandy, UT and Rio Tinto Stadium to take on FaKe SaLt LaKe. With a win tomorrow the Rapids reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup, which has lived in Salt Lake City the last two years. Game time for this one is at 8 pm, which unfortunately overlaps the U.S. National Team World Cup Qualifier by 30 minutes. A large group has made the trip West for the game, but those that didn't go to SLC will be gathering at the British Bulldog downtown.

Official Injury Report:
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R foot/calf strain); FW Omar Cummings (L ankle strain); GK Steward Ceus (R meniscus tear/surgery)

Official Discipline Report:

International Absences:
Conor Casey, Pablo Mastroeni (U.S. National Team)

FSL has 3 players on their injury list, and they have central midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales suspended due to card accumulation. My guess on the lineup:

Kimura - Ihemelu - Palguta - Harvey
Cooke - Ballouchy - Clark
Cummings - Peterson

LaBrocca is the natural replacement for Pablo. With Casey being gone I have to assume Peterson, who's been the sub off the bench up front so far, will take his place. That leaves Cooke as the obvious player to fill LaBrocca's hole at right mid. I think Gibbs has played his way to the bench over the last couple of games, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a back line of Ihemelu - Palguta - Gibbs - Harvey.

Key To Look For:

Taking FSL out of the game. FSL is reeling from going winless in May, and they are missing the core of their midfield. If we jump on them quickly and score in the first 15 there's a good chance we can take the fire out of them and give them a beat down they deserve. They expect a sellout tomorrow since there's a post game concert from one of the recent American Idols and we need to take the crowd out of it early as well. The longer we let them hang in the game the greater the chances they steal a win or at the very least get a draw to keep their Rocky Mountain Cup hopes alive.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Colin Clark. This should be a winnable game for the Rapids, but the late callup by Casey takes half our goals away. As we've seen our defense is incapable of a shut out against 11 men and without Casey we won't score a whole lot. We have only scored 2 goals without Casey's involvement once this year (KC) and I don't see us doing it again tomorrow. A draw still keeps us in the driver's seat for the RMC.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rapids News and Notes 6/4

A little reminder of what we're playing for on Saturday!
  • National Team loses 3-1 to Costa Rica
Embarrassing. I'm torn between firing Bradley now and improving our chances, or keeping Bradley so the team goes down hard and the USSF learns a lesson.
  • Pablo called up for the Nats
Given the way he played last night, this may be his last callup. I expect he'll start on Saturday due to suspensions and injuries in midfield, but that might be it for him with the "A" squad.
  • Conor Casey called up for the Nats
This was just announced on tonight's ESPN MLS Game of the Week and on the U.S. Nats Blog. Brina Ching has re-aggravated his hamstring and they may need Casey for cover. His use will be based on how Ching is doing, but I think we should assume we won't have him for the Rocky Mountain Cup match this week. Casey deserves this callup, he's been playing great this year, but the timing couldn't be worse for the Rapids with a huge road match on Saturday.
  • Bouna Time! in Philly?
Apparently there are rumors that Nowak might make Bouna Coundoul his first signing as Philly manager. I hope so, Bouna's a good MLS keeper and only his idiot agent kept him from signing with the Rapids this season. Somehow I don't think training in Finland is what Bouna was thinking when he was told he could do better in Europe. The Rapids still own his rights, so Philly will have to give us a draft pick or two if they want to sign him.
  • Ciaran O'Brien on loan for the USL season
O'Brien is playing for the Austin Aztex of USL-1 for the rest of the USL season. That's a good way to get a young player som playing time now that the reserve league is gone. It hurts our depth on the wings a bit, but I don't think O'Brien was going to get significant playing time with the Rapids.
  • Ivan Guerrero to Honduras?
There's been a rumor for a couple of months that Guererro was going to transfer back home to Honduras. The newest report has him in Honduras for his physical for his new team. Guerrero is a left sided player, and Harvey and Clark have been the only two Rapids to play every minute of every game this year, so he was finding it hard to get into the first team. With a cap hit of $145K that's a lot of money to warm the bench. It also frees up a roster spot for Julian Baudet. Theoretically if Guerrero wants to go the Honduran side would have to pay a transfer fee, but the Rapids are probably just happy to have his salary off the books so I expect them to free transfer him or ask for a very small amount of money.
  • Julian Baudet signed by the Rapids?
The most recent report out of England mentioned quote Baudet as having signed with the Rapids, while all previous reports said he would sign. Still no official word from the Rapids or the league. Assuming this happens I find it a better move than I did originally. Our defense has shown that it can't keep mental focus for 90 minutes, so maybe somebody with experience in the pressure cooker of English football and a team captain can come in and settle the back line down. We still need some depth up front, but Baudet might be an asset.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weekend Roundup 5/30 - 5/31

Blackburn is now on hiatus until the next (thankfully) EPL season this fall

Colorado Rapids - The win in New York has allowed Colorado to keep pace with Seattle and Houston. The Rapids are still 4th in the West but they are now in a 4-way tie for 5th overall in MLS and they have played 2 less games than the other teams with 16 points. Chivas is still leading the pack by 3 points. Colorado is tied with KC for 4th in goals scored, and is tied with LA for 4th in goals allowed.

CD Tenerife - CDT travelled to bottom-of-the-league Sevilla and treated them like you would expect the 2nd placed team to treat them, coming home with a 4-0 win. 3 goals int eh first 30 minutes out the game away almost before it started. Not only does the 3 points get us closer to promotion, but the 4 goals go a long way in helping the goal differential tiebreaker. With 3 games to play Tenerife has a 6 point cushion over 4th placed Hercules. They are 3 points behind leaders Xerez (who lost this week) and face them at home this weekend. With a win and a Hercules draw or loss, or a draw and a Hercules loss this weekend CDT will clinch promotion. Even in a worst case scenario of a loss ans a Hercules win Tenerife will still have a 3 point elad with 2 games to play. Hercules finishes with hosting the 16th placed team and at the 7th placed team, while Tenerife goes to the 12th placed team and hosts the 9th placed team in the final game.

Kildare County - County lost, but only by a score of 1-0 at home to Athlone Town. That's almost respectable! Its now a 12 game losing streak where they've been outscored 41-3. They are now 5 points from safety, but really 6 since Kildare would lose the tiebreaker.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rapids Take Bite Out of Big Apple

The Rapids apparently learned their lesson. After taking a 1 goal lead early, losing it, and then getting it back they kept pushing and extended the lead to two goals before winning 3-2. The game started with a huge save from Pickens after the central defense fell asleep in the first minute. After that the team took control and had a few chances. The Conor Casey was left unmarked on a Clark cross into the box and took full advantage to give the Rapids a 1 goal lead midway through the half. He nearly scored a carbon copy of the goal 10 minutes later, but put it just over the top of the bar. As we've seen all season though, the Rapids couldn't hold the lead. Right before half Cory Gibbs got too physical in the box and was called for a PK. It may have been a weak call, but Gibbs should know better than to give the referee the opportunity to call a PK by being that physical. Angel converted and the teams went tot he locker room tied at 1-1.

The Rapids didn't take long to regain the lead after the break. In the 48th minute Omar found Conor unmarked in the box again and Casey headed it home for his second goal. The Rapids kept the pressure up and were rewarded with a PK as Cummings was taken down as he crossed the top corner of the box. Somewhat surprisingly Ballouchy stepped up to the spot and drilled it home for the Rapids first multi-goal lead on the road under Smith. Colorado seemed to have the game in hand at this point, but RBNY wasn't going away quietly. In the 73rd minute Palguta brought down Kanji outside the box. Angel lined up the free kick but sent it wide. Unfortunately the referee wasn't happy about how the free kick was taken and ordered a re-kick. This time Angel put it right on goal. Pickens made the same, but instead of punching it clear he tried to catch it and fumbled it out in front of him. Borman pounced on the rebound to get the Bulls within 1. This led to a tense final 17 minutes but the Rapids defense held firm and Colorado picked up a big win on the road.

My key to the game was the Giants stadium turf. There were numerous "turf bounces" that played havoc with the game. In one case Clark received the ball behind the NY defense inside the box, but the bounce took so long to land that the defense was able to recover and deny him the 1v1 with the keeper. None of the 5 goals were affected by the turf though.

Other Observations:
  • Great job by the team to continue to push the game after getting up a goal both times. The PK was unlucky, RBNY had no other way back into the game in the first half.
  • Casey's 7th and 8th goals of the year puts him in the league lead.
  • Ballouchy improved again this week. Since he was benched a couple of weeks ago he's really elevated his play.
  • I think it might be time for Gibbs to head to the bench. He seems to have lost his ability to focus for 90 minutes.
  • Colin Clark, Gold Cup? Maybe not quite yet, but if he keeps playing like this for the next month Bradley will have to think about it.
  • We'll realize how well Pablo has been playing by how much we'll miss him next week.
  • Omar Cummings with two more goal setups if you count drawing the PK. He may not be putting them in himself, but he's getting the job done.
  • I'd still like to see Cookie and Koz get more playing time..
  • With a win next week against a weakened FSL team we'll be back on a "win at home, draw on the road" pace that leads to 60 points.
Player of the Game: Conor Casey. He got the Player of the Week award from MLS, I could hardly pick anyone else.