Monday, April 30, 2012

Colorado Leaves The Goats Bleating

After a forgettable first half the Rapids got a lead and then blasted Chivas in the last 10 minutes of the game. The first 45 was a bunch of wasted chances and uninspiring soccer that the Rapids were slightly better at.  After the break Colorado didn't wait long to strike.  Off a corner in the 50th minute Cascio chested the ball down around the 6 on the far post.  After chasing it down he hit a slice into the far side of the net to give the burgundy boys a 1-0 lead.  After defending a set of 3 shots (including a couple of good saves from Pickens) as Chivas tried to level the game quickly the game settled down again.

In the 82nd minute the Rapids got the breakthrough that changed the game.  Cummings broke the offside trap and brought Hill with him.  After drawing all the defenders to him Omar played the ball to Kamani and he slotted it past the keeper for a 2-0 lead.  At this point Chivas folded and the home side took full advantage.

Two minutes later Larentowicz rounded the corner at the back of the penalty area only to get pulled back by the Chivas defender.  Ginger Ninja sold it a bit but got the call, then stepped up and put away his own penalty to give Colorado a 3-0 lead.  After a few frustrating minutes of not being able to stop the game so Casey could get his first playing time he finally got subbed on in the 92nd minute.  Is first touch was a shot on goal that forced a save.  His second was a off a rebound from a Mullan shot that a diving defender deflected back towards Hill who finished it for his 2nd goal of the game and a 4-0 final score.

My key to look for was possession.  Surprisingly we only had 46% of the possession even though it felt like more.  Even with having the possession advantage Chivas only got 4 shots on goal though, so the defense did their job.

Other Observations:
  • Koz was pulled at half and I can't say I disagree with the move.  He got beat a couple of times and hasn't looked good in the last couple of games.  Freeman didn't impress either, but setting the standard that there is competition is a good thing.
  • Great to see Casey back on the field, and getting 2 chances in as many minutes of play.
  • There was some fun being had in Class VI as Casey waited to come it.  We were yelling at anyone we could to get the ball out of play so he could sub in.  We had a good laugh about it.
  • Hill is the super-sub.
  • Another good game from Cascio.  I think I underestimated him when I said he'd be our best draftee since Freeman.  He might be our best since Adin Brown.
  • Cummings had another high and low night.  Great assist on Hill's first goal but still struggling at times.
  • Mullan is quietly putting together a nice run of games.  He's not showing up on the scoresheet but he's doing all the right things.
  • Castrillon and Rivero were both quiet this game, again.
  • This was the first 4-goal win in the league this season.
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  There were a number of choices, but on a night where he tied the team record for career shutouts Jesus gets the nod.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rapids Try To Snap Losing Streak

Do you dare try the Tacos de Buche?

The other LA team, the Under-a-Chivas, are in town this week.  The crowd should be a little more subdued after the Beckham-fest or last week and I for one am glad.  We don't need half the stadium rooting for some guy on the other team.  Kickoff this week is at 7 again and the tailgate starts as 5.  As you can see above the special item this week is Tacos de Buche (look it up).

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); MF Martin Rivero (R quadriceps soreness)

INELIGIBLE: FW Edu (Awaiting visa and ITC)

Chivas is only missing two players so they're pretty much at full strength.  Casey is expected to come off the bench for 15-20 minutes of play, Rivero is unknown.  Henao is technically eligible but not expected to be part of the game day roster as he's just getting into town tonight.  My guess at the starting XI:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Wynne - Moor - Kimura

Even with 3 games this coming week I think we'll see the full starting XI tomorrow.  We need to stop this losing streak and at home is the best place to do it.  If Rivero is still unable to go we'll probably see Hill again like we did last week.

Key To Look For: Possession.  Chivas has played six 1-0 games and one 2-1 game.  They've lost all 4 home games 1-0 and won all 3 road games 1-0 and 2-1.  Not a team that's going to score many goals.  If we can keep them running after the ball they won't be able to score.

Prediction: 2-0 win.  Goals by Cummings and Cascio.  Our possession game at home in altitude will give us the advantage and we'll dominate this game en route to a much needed win.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Player Joins the Rapids

Colorado announced the signing today of Brazilian striker Luis Eduardo Schmidt, commonly known ad Edu.  He had trialed with the team last month and rejoined the team this week.  Edu is 33 and has previously played in Brazil and Spain's La Liga.  He's a big guy that would probably fill in well in Casey's target striker role.

In other roster news Harrison Henao is expected to join the team tomorrow or Saturday now that his paperwork is completed.  He may or may not be active for Saturday's game, depending on his travel fatigue, but he's expected to be available for next week's two games.  Also there have been multiple reports that Quincy Amarikwa is being "evaluated" and the team will make a decision on him as soon as he returns from Nigeria where he's dealing with family issues.

Today, with the help of the Rapids Media Office, I figured out the current status of the team's roster and international limits.  The team is limited to 30 players, 6 of which can be internationals.  Players on IR do not count towards those limits.  Also players who are still awaiting paperwork aren't counted either.

Right now the Rapids have 8 internationals "under contract".  Castrillon, Edu, Henao, Janniere, Rivero, Smith, Yamada, and Zapata.  They also have 32 players total "under contract".  There are some players that don't count though:

Edu - Awaiting paperwork
Henao - Awaiting paperwork
Mastroeni - On IR
Smith - On IR
Wallace - On season-ending IR

So without these 5 Colorado has 27 players and 5 internationals that count towards the roster limits.  That leaves 3 open roster spots, one of which could be an international.  Henao will take that international spot when he joins the team tomorrow or Saturday.  Then Edu will take one of the two remaining roster spots and we'll be short an international spot.  When Mastroeni comes off IR he'll take the remaining roster spot, which means when Smith comes off of IR we'll need another roster spot and an international spot.

So what this means is that if everyone is healthy (but Wallace) and eligible the team has one too many players and two too many internationals.  With the news about Amarikwa he could be leaving soon which would solve the extra player issue but not the international one.  I did hear a rumor that Smith is close to getting his green card, so that would reduce our international spot need to one.  My guess is that Janniere is the odd man out.  He and Smith are the only tow internationals that Pareja didn't bring in so he's the obvious cut.  The other possibility is trading Amarikwa for an international slot, but I'm not sure they can get that much for Qunicy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rapids Outscore Galaxy, Still Lose

Colorado was thoroughly outplayed in the first half, mounted a comeback in the second half, got a gift PK that would have given them a draw, and then blew the PK (with the help of a couple of a$$hole fans) and lost.

The first half was ugly soccer from the home side.  There were, once again, no shots on goal.  The closest the Rapids got was a cross from Cascio that the Galaxy goalkeeper parried to the top of the box and Hill volleyed just above the crossbar.  That didn't make up for the two clear chances Cascio had early that he botched to the point of not even getting a shot off.

Meanwhile on defense the Galaxy made us pay.  Beckham was given a free kick about 25 yards out in front.  Magee drifted into the near corner from out wide, unmarked (so unmarked that I can't even tell who should have been marking him) and headed the free kick back across goal.  Wynne got a head to it but redirected it into the net for an own goal.  If Wynne hadn't hit it though it would have been a contest between Zapata or an oncoming attacker so it may have ended up in the net anyway.

18 minutes later the Galaxy used a seven pass sequence to go box-to-box and find an unmarked Landon Donovan who beat Pickens between the legs to  double the lead.  The Galaxy did a nice job with crossing routes to confuse the defense and free up Donovan on our right side.  Kimura tried to scramble back to his side to cover but didn't make it and Donovan found the hole right past Pickens leg.

Colorado came out playing much better in the second half, though some of that can be attributed to the fact that the Galaxy was sitting on 2-0 lead and didn't need to press.  18 minutes in Cummings decided to do it himself.  Picking up a loose ball just outside the center circle he sprinted to the top of the Galaxy box and blasted in a goal of the week candidate to get the Rapids within a goal.  Colorado didn't quit either, they controlled possession most of the half and in the 90th minute they got a gift for all of their hard work.  Akpan chased down a long ball in the box and went airborne to try to make contact but missed.  The center official signaled for a PK though.  On replay its pretty clear Akpan went airborne on his own and wasn't really touched.  Andre wasn't diving, he was trying to make a play on the ball, but there was no foul.

Of course the Galaxy erupted, surrounding the ref and showing some obvious dissent (something Larentowicz got carded for earlier in the game).  Beckham alone delayed the PK by a minute or so by meandering around in the box until the ref finally stepped in to deal with it.  Right about then a couple of a$$holes in the BSD side of the terraces decided to start throwing beer cans at Beckham.  One of them was caught, ejected, and banned for the year.  After that was resolved Cummings finally stepped up to take the PK, only to get to cute and ending up with a weak shot that was easily saved.  A fair result from an unfair call though.

My key to look for was midfield-forward linking.  There was an improvement from the last couple of games, but the Rapids still struggled to consistently create chances.  They had 4 shots on goal total (which includes the goal and the penalty shot), all in the second half.  That's just not good enough to win.

Other Observations:
  • The jacka$$ fans who delayed the corner kick aren't Rapids fans.  There's no excuse for that.  I'm glad they weren't BSG regulars and that one was caught and ejected.  The BSG is looking for any information they can find on identifying the other guy.
  • Pickens really should have done better on the second goal.  Donovan is the best striker in league history, but the ball rolled under Pickens while he misread it and left his feet.
  • Cascio had an awful game.  Besides whiffing on two golden chances his touch was poor and he wasn't on the same page as most of the team.  The ups and downs of being a rookie.
  • I hate to say it, but Old Spice has still got it.
  • Hill was a late addition to the starting XI after Rivero had hamstring issues in warm ups.  Other than his missed volley he didn't do anything impressive.
  • Castrillon was too quite for the guy who's supposed to be the engine in our midfield.
  • Cummings had a great goal, but other than that he still struggled as the forward striker.  I think he's going to look much better once Casey takes that position and Cummings can move back to the right side.
  • I think we get at least a draw, if not win, if Casey were able to start this game.  He makes the PK and his ability to hold the ball would have greatly improved our first half play.
  • Kimura had another off match.  He doesn't seem to be adjusting to the 4-3-3 well so far.
  • Great tailgate from Class VI and the Pid Army!
Player Of The Game: Luis Zapata.  The Colombian played good defense and made some great runs up the left side to get into the attack.  In a game where most players were either invisible or had big highs and lows Zapata was above average with no real flaws.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Circus That Is The Galaxy Is In Town

Bruce Campbell, a much better spokesperson for Old Spice than Beckham 

That's right, Old Spice, Keane, PrimaDonnavan, and the rest of the Galaxy will be our opponents tomorrow night.  This is the first of two trips to Colorado for LA this year and reportedly David Beckham will be making an appearance this trip.  Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it.  Considering the only time he's shown up we beat them 4-0 though, maybe we want him to come.  In celebration of the probable sell-out crowd tomorrow the Class VI/Pid Army tailgate will start an hour early at 4pm.  I've heard rumors of bacon-wrapped hot dogs for this one.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Ababio (concussion); FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: Ross LaBauex (sports hernia)

INELIGIBLE: MF Harrison Henao (Awaiting visa and ITC)

Casey has been ruled out of his expected return due to being out most of the week with a strep throat virus, today was the only day he practiced.  LA has 6 players questionable or worse but as I mentioned Old Spice is expected to play.  My guess at the lineup for tomorrow:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Wynne - Moor - Kimura

There's been some rumbles about adjusting the front line to try to get some more offense, but we're going to be adjusting it the coming weeks to insert Casey.  I don't think Pareja will want to bring more instability by adjusting it this week.only to adjust it again.

Key To Look For: Midfield-forward linking.  In the past couple of weeks the Rapids have had good movement from the defense to the midfield, but they haven't been able to get the ball to the forwards in dangerous situations.  If we're going to beat the Galaxy we're going to have to generate more than the 5 chances we've had in the last two games combined.

Prediction: 2-1 win.  Goals by Cummings and Larentowicz.  LA  has been struggling this season so far and playing at altitude won't help.  The Rapids need some home cooking and I think they'll get it.  They'll go up early on a Cummings goal only for LA to tie it.  Ginger Ninja will get the winner on a free kick in the second half.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Consistently Inconsistent Disciplinary Committee

That was Rafa Marquez fouling Shea Salinas over the weekend.  Today the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Rafa Marquez for 3 games.  As I discussed a couple of times last year, the one thing you can be sure of is that the Disciplinary Committee will be inconsistent and this is another example of it.  I don't understand how a player like Marquez, who just came off a 3 game suspension for instigating and participating in a fight in last year's playoffs, can get only 3 games for this obvious kick at Salinas.  Based on the Committee's comments over the last year about cracking down on stuff like this combined with the punishments they've handed down this deserved 5-6 games.  This won't help the belief in some circles that the Committee is going lighter on name players and big teams.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Congrats Dave And Thanks!

I hope you'll let me divert for a bit to this wonderful article from  Dave Cameron was diagnosed with leukemia last July and while he won't be considered cured for another 5 years he's turned a major corner and is seeing very positive signs.

Dave's a few years younger than me but we both grew up in the Seattle area listening to Dave Niehaus (RIP) calling many bad (and a few good) Mariners seasons.  His blog U.S.S. Mariner, along with co-writers Derek Milhous Zumsteg and Jason Michael Barker, was the inspiration for this blog.   Their format of presenting the Mariners stats and drawing conclusions from them instead of going on "gut feel" is what I was trying to for the Rapids with View From The Couch.  I haven't been 10% as successful as they have but I keep on trying. ;)  I'm glad to see that Dave is doing better (and now appearing on the MLB Network!) and I hope everything continues to go well for him.  Thanks for the inspiration!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rapids Offense Quiet Against Sounders

For the second straight game Colorado was shutout in a loss.  This time it was only a 1-0 loss, actually one of our better games in Seattle as you'll see below, but you only need to give up 1 goal if you can't score.

Honestly Seattle should have been up at least 1 within the first 15-20 minutes.  They were hammering our back line and only a great save from Pickens and a couple of misdirected shots kept them off the scoreboard.  Slowly the Rapids started gaining some control of the match and actually generated a goal when Mullan finished off a rebound from an Omar Cummings shot, but Mullan was correctly called offside.  At half both teams could feel unlucky not to have scored but Seattle had been the better side.

Unfortunately the burgundy boys took a step back to start the second half, giving the run of play to Seattle.  It wasn't as bad as the start of the game but this time the blinding-green boys made them pay.  Off a corner kick Zack Scott crashed the near post and headed the ball all the way across inside the far post.  At that point the Sounders successfully killed off the game, stymieing the Rapids attack to the point that they didn't even get a shot on goal off.

My key to look for was Mullan and he handled the tough situation well.  The Seattle fans weren't as vocal as I expected, which probably helped.  Brian might have been our best field player on Saturday.  His only real blemish was a yellow card and that was a foul that's not even whistled on any other player in any other game. Toledo was obviously waiting for something to break out around Mullan and Alonso used that to sell a dive late in the game.  Anywhere else that's probably not even a foul, much less a card.

Other Observations:
  • The Rapids are now 0-0-6 all time in competitive matches in Seattle (league & USOC play) with a -12 goal differential.  So a 1-0 loss is one of our best games we've ever played in my hometown.  Yuck.
  • A general team failure on the goal.  Cascio seemed to be the one marking Scott, Larentowicz didn't attack the ball allowing Scott to flash in front of him, and Kimura abandoned the back post (possibly by design) to stay with  Montero.  Had he stayed on the post he would have blocked the goal.
  • This team desperately needs Casey back. The last two games they've had a total of 5 shots on goal.  None of our current forwards can hold the ball (or pass it really) so the only way to develop a scoring chance is either on a cross into the box or a through ball behind the defense.  The defense just stays deep to stop both of these possibilities.
  • It would help if Omar stopped tripping over the ball.
  • I'd give Montero the benefit of the doubt on the foul that cut Pickens legs out from under him in mid-air if I hadn't seen Montero pull the same stunt on almost every keeper in the league.  Punk.
  • Castrillon was somewhat invisible in this match.
  • Colorado's 3-0-3 start is still tied for the 5th best start in team history, sadly.  This despite playing most of the season with out Pablo and all of it without Casey, 2 of our best 3 players.
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  He had 3 huge saves and kept the team in it early.  There was nothing he could do about the goal.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time For Mullan To Face The Music

The Ivar's Dog, you'll have to go across the street from CLink to Safeco to get it though 

Colorado is in my hometown of Seattle this week to face the neon-green Sounders.  Seattle has been a bit of a house of horrors for the Rapids.  Over the last 3 years we've lost all 3 games at Qwest/CLink, being outscored 9-4 and the less said about the U.S. Open Cup games in Seattle the better.  We've also had our share of injuries, most notably Casey's blown Achilles tendon on the grass lay-over last season.  Tomorrow's game is at an annoying 2pm MDT on Altitude.  Class VI and Pid Army will be at the Pub on Penn for the watch party in Denver.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Ababio (concussion); FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); Ross LaBauex (sports hernia)

Seattle is missing 7 players including, particularly unfortunately, Steve Zakuani still.  Pareja fiddled with the lineup in Salt Lake City last week and it blew up in his face, but he says he still likes the move of Moor to midfield so it leaves this week's lineup a little questionable.  Here's what I guess:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Wynne - Moor - Kimura

If Moor moves up to midfield then Marshall would probably come in and Cascio would sit with Castrillon up front.  There's a chance that Mullan could sit, given the issues around this game, but I think both Brian and the team want to move past it now and that won't happen until Mullan plays in Seattle.

Key To Look For: Mullan.  There's going to be a lot of emotion coming from the stands and possibly the Sounders in this one.  Most of it is justified, even if some Sounders fans have gone (once again) over the top this week demanding apologies to them from Brian and such.  The Rapids just need to keep their heads down, play the game, and not engage the crowd or, if it happens, get suckered into a cheap-shot match with Seattle.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Cascio.  A very generous prediction but I feel like this is the year we start turning around our fortunes in my birthplace.  This assumes that Moor starts on the backline and Cascio starts up-front.  If Moor starts in the midfield I think we lose and Cascio doesn't score.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rapids Sign Harrison Henao On Loan

Colorado has just announced that they've signed midfielder Harrison Henao on loan from Once Caldas of Colombia.  No terms were released but reports in Colombia say its until December and almost all MLS loans include an option to buy.  Henao is a 25 year old player who's been a pro since 2006.  Early indications are that he's a defensive midfielder, which may not be a positive sign for Pablo's recovery.

The Rapids currently have 3 open roster spots with Mastroeni, Smith, and Wallace on long-term IR but only one open international spot, also due to Smith being on IR.  Since Wallace has already been placed on the season-ending list we have the roster spot for the season, but the Rapids will have to make some sort of move when Smith is ready to come off the IR.  They'll either have to trade for another international spot or cut one of their current internationals.  Since Castrillon, Henao, Rivero, Yamada, and Zapata are are recent acquisitions by the current coaching staff the players most likely to be cut would be Janniere and Smith.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day Late and A Dollar Short

The title refers to the Rapids performance in SLC, but it could just as easily refer to me as a heavy work schedule this week has me getting this post up a day later than normal.  The Rocky Mountain Cup game was a disaster for the Rapids and the 2-0 was generous towards them.  I'm going to dispense with the normal review and just hit the "highlights" of the two goals.

The first goal was off a great pass by Beltran that found Saborio free behind the defense to volley the ball home.  Its hard to blame anyone on this goal, the pass was that good.  It would have taken Wynne or Marshall being in the perfect position or Pickens pulling off a miracle save to stop.  That said the defense made it easier by Marshall dragging behind on the offside trap.  Saborio would have been onside anyway, but it wasn't a positive sign.

The second goal was a world class f-up from the defense, Pickens, and the referee.  Espindola brought the ball down at the top of the box sandwiched by Kimura and Wynne with Pickens rushing out to block it.  Pickens decided to start complaining to the ref while making only a one handed swipe at the ball and Kimura and Wynne didn't clear it, allowing Espindola to poke it by them all for the goal.  Now it turns out Pickens had every reason to complain as Espindola clearly used his arm to bring the ball down, it should have been a foul not a goal, but Pickens needs to do his complaining after the whistle.,  Had he dove on the ball it wouldn't have been a goal anyway.  I'm not sure what Koz and Wynne were doing but the ball just needs to be played out.

My key to this game was keeping our cool.  We kept ourselves too cool for most of the game, barely even bothering to play.  Then once we went down 2-0 we lost our cool and trying to take it out on FSL.  Mullan and Moor in particular are lucky not to be suspended for next week's game (and may still be).  Mullan kicked out at a player (disguised as a tumble) and Moor smacked Gil in the face and should have been red carded on the spot.

Other Observations:
  • Pareja out thought himself in this game.  For whatever reason he thought Cascio wasn't able to start so instead of just plugging in Hill, Akpan, or Amarikwa he moved Castrillon up to the left, disrupting the midfield.  Then instead of putting Thompson in his place he moved Moor up to midfield, disrupting the defense.  One change in the starting XI disrupted every unit on the field and it showed.
  • That said, the players didn't show up to play either.  Nobody had a good game, at best Rivero was average and everyone else sucked.
  • Despite the idiot FSL announcing teams disbelief Kimura wasn't only acting when he went down int he 16th minute.  The replay clearly showed he got smacked in the face as well as the throat (unintentionally) and it apparently knocked him off his game as he was pretty bad for the rest of the night.
  • Cummings looks like he just didn't care by the end of the game, which was very disappointing.   He and Kimura have the most experience in this rivalry with Pablo injured and should want it more than anyone.
  • Marshall is just too slow to be starting in this formation.  He was constantly trailing behind the rest of the defense keeping players onside.
  • Moor in the midfield is a decent late game adjustment to defend a lead.  It was a lousy starting XI move.
Player Of The Game: The travelling fans, seen above.  They spent a lot of time and money to see an awful game against our biggest rival and put up with crap from the FSL fans.  I hope somebody from the Rapids organization apologized to them for that performance.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rocky Mountain Cup Round 1

Ah yes, its that time again

The Rapids are in Salt Lake City for the first of two trips to play FaKe SaLt LaKe this season.  We only get one home game which makes the Rocky Mountain Cup difficult to win this season, but now appears to be a good time to strike.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm and the game is live on DISH and DIRECTV but not Comcast cable.  Due to the Nuggets and Avs playing at the same time there isn't a channel available for the game.  It will be shown at 10:30 tomorrow night on tape-delay.  Class VI and Pid Army are having a large watch party at the Celtic in Lodo (which does have satellite).

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Eddie Ababio (concussion); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
DOUBTFUL: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: Ross LaBauex (sports hernia)

FSL is also down 5 people so we're equal on strength, though the Rapids have been playing without their missing players most of the season so we're used to it.  I think the starting XI for this one is fairly obvious, but you can never be sure.  Here's what I expect:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Wynne - Moor - Kimura

About the only change I could see is working Hill into the lineup somehow, but I doubt Pareja is going to rock the boat when things have been working well so far.

Key To Look For: Keeping our cool.  RMC matches can be heated but we need to keep our focus on our new style of play.  The Rapids, especially guys like Larentowicz, need to not take the bait FSL will be throwing out there.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Cummings.  I feel like this is an optimistic prediction but FSL is hurting a bit right now.  They picked up a couple of bad injuries in a midweek game and have not looked impressive in their last two home games. Cummings continues his hot streak and gets another goal, but FSL squeaks one by the defense.  A draw will deny the home-field advantage in the RMC the schedule gave FSL this year, so in some ways its a win for us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pablo Out For 6 Weeks

Yesterday the team announced that Mastroeni has been advised by doctors to take at least 6 weeks off before attempting to play again.  Because of this he'll be going on the DL, the soonest he'll be able to play would be the May 19th home game against KC.

In unrelated news the Reserves beat the Fire Reserves 2-1 yesterday.  The only non-rostered player to play for the Rapids was Academy player Dillon Serna.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Colorado Leaves Slim Pickens For Chicago

Getting back home is apparently just what the Rapids needed.  In the best example yet of what the new 4-3-3 can be Colorado controlled the game and had a somewhat easy 2-0 victory.  As expected Martin Rivero got his first opportunity as a Rapid, taking Pablo's spot in midfield.  Otherwise it was the same starting group we've seen when every one's available.  The burgundy boys controlled most of an uneventful first half.  Neither team was able to score before they headed to the locker rooms at half but Colorado had to feel better about their first half performance.

After those of us in the East stands got out of the blazing sun for a few minutes the second half started much like the first, with the Rapids making good passes and working the ball around while covering well defensively.  Finally Colorado found a way past the Fire backline.  Rivero played a ball all the way to the end line that Mullan was just able to catch up to.  Brian turned the ball back to the top of the box where Cummings was unmarked running onto the ball.  Omar hammered it at goal and while the Chicago keeper got a hand on it Cummings' had put enough power behind it that it still went in the net.

The home side relaxed a bit after the goal and the Fire had a couple of chances but Pickens and the defense were up to the challenge.  Colorado thought they had gotten a 2 goal lead after a Cummings shot was deflected to Castrillon in front of the goal and Jamie made sure to put it away, but Cummings was offside initially.  The Rapids kept the pressure up though, subbing in new signing forward Kamani Hill, and with less than 2 minutes left it paid off.  After a give an go with Wells Thompson Hill took a shot from the top of the box only to see it parried away by the Fire keeper.  Learning from a similar experience earlier in the game Hill had followed up his shot and finished the rebound to clinch the game for the Rapids.

My key to look for was Rivero's work in the midfield.  While I don't think he was as good as some are making him out to be he added a stability to the center of the park that we needed in the absence of Pablo and did well finding passing lanes to use.  Plus he started the sequence that let to Omar's goal.

Other Observations:
  • Maybe it was the oddity of 80+ degrees on the 1st of April but the sun was brutal.  I can't wait until we get back to the normal 7pm starts at the Dick
  • You can see int his game what a player like Larentowicz means to this team.  The midfield did a much better job maintaining possession with him in there over Thompson and LaBauex last week.
  • Great to see Cummings getting goals in back-to-back games, but Omar could have had a hat trick.  His confidence isn't there yet and/or he's still not comfortable being the forward striker.
  • Zapata and Kimura both struggled with the balance between offense and defense in this game.  That balance from the fullbacks is really key to a successful 4-3-3.
  • Moor and Wynne had much better games than they did last week.  Of course the Fire's impotent attack helped.
  • What more can you ask from a new player than to score on his debut?  Hill didn't have much playing time but he scored.
  • Wells Thompson is still Wells Thompson, for the good and bad things that represents.
  • Now on to the Rocky Mountain Cup!
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  He only had to make a couple of big saves but every time the Fire got into a dangerous position Pickens was where he needed to be to shut it down.