Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our English Mid Is Better Than Your English Mid!

And that is how you do that! The Rapids started the season off in style completely crushing the Galaxy by a score of 4-0.

The big news is that View From the Couch now has a View From the Sidelines as part of the reason my life has turned upside-down is that last week I moved from Scottsdale, AZ to Thornton, CO. I had a great seat in Class VI's Section 108 last night to watch the dismantling of the Galaxy and went back later to review the FSC coverage of the game.

Let's look back at my Keys to the Game to see how we did:

  • Is the defense helping out Bouna Time! more than last year, or we'll we be surviving based on Bouna's play? - Well the defense showed up big last night, even while missing 2 starters in Mike Petke and Ugo Ihemelu. While they still showed that they're a bit green, the defense covered for each other's mistakes and completely took David Beckham out of the game.
  • Can C. Gomez bring the spark we need to jump-start our anemic offense? - Gomez had a slow start, mishandling a number of balls early and not quite getting in sync. After the first 20-30 minutes though he was controlling the midfield. However, the player that really got us going last night was Terry Cooke. 1 goal, 2 assists, and had the through pass that set up the PK as well.
  • Does the team as a whole have an attacking mentality, or is it still the "Defend and hope for a goal on the counter to win 1-0" style of play? - After our first half goal it felt like we were dropping back to our old habit of trying to protect the lead for 80 minutes. Time and time again we fouled players near the box so Beckham could step up for the free kick. Luckly for us the Galaxy couldn't capitalize and whatever was said at half worked as w came out more agressive and moredetermined in the second half. Once we got the second goal we smelled blood in the water and didn't back down until the Galaxy were dead and buried.
  • Free kicks near the box. Beckham is the best dead-ball specialist in the league, we have to minimize the Galaxy's free kicks. - As I said, we didn't do a good job on this one i nthe first half, but Beckham and the galaxy weren't on their game and didn't make us pay. One thing we did do is that when we gave up a free kick they were rarely in a location where Beckham go take a shot, instead having to cross the ball in to hope a teammate could get a head on it.
  • How tired are Beckham and Donovan at altitude after their midweek national team games. - Beckham looked average, at best, and PrimaDOnnavan couldn't get any service until it was too late. I'm not sure iff it was the altitude, travel or the midweek game but something took the fire out of the Galaxy almost from the opening whistle.
  • How well does Colorado use the large field. Reports are they've narrowed the field by 5 yards this season, which I think is a mistake. - I still think it was a mistake to narrow the field, but the Rapids used all of it last night as Clark and Cooke were constantly making slicing runs and crossing balls in from the outside. The Galaxy defense, which is approaching ancient in age, couldn't keep up.

Critical Matchup: Burciaga Jr. & Cieran O'Brien vs. Old Spice - Turns out it was actually Colin Clark and Burciaga Jr. vs. Old Spice, and they got the job done. They did it by going on offense and causing Galaxy right back Chris Klein to need help. Beckham spent a good part of the game playing right back to cover for Klein, which limited his effectiveness going forward.

Fact of the Match: The last time the Rapids scored 4 goals in a regular-season game was July 23rd, 2005, beating Chicago 4-1. The last time the Rapids won by 4 was May 5th, 1996 in their second-ever home match, beating KC 4-0.

Random Observations:

  • The Rapids started 5 players with a total of 6 starts between them. The Galaxy started 3 DP-level players. In spite of this the Rapids won 4-0.
  • Bouna Time! apparently learned a great deal from his stint with the Senegal National Team and training with Arsenal. He was better positioned last night, and still showed no fear when he was called upon to mix it up.
  • Abel Xavier, (aka Chia Pet) was lucky to be in the match as long as he was. He was far to agressive on his tackles, and his dissent probably should have gotten him tossed before it did.
  • The PK was soft, but not completely uncalled for. Chia Pet's trailing leg did clip Cummings while going for the ball, and a defender can go down, back to the CR, in the box and expect to get away with any contact. Much like the bogus penalty on Erpen against Chivas last year the call might have been weak, but Xavier gave Abbey Okulaja the opening.
  • Has Abbey called a game in the last 2 years without controversy?
  • Chia Pet will be suspended another couple of games, you make contact with the ref, you're going to sit.
  • I wouldn't be surprised to see O'Brien also sitting for a couple of games. his tackle merited the red card, and while I'm not sure the tackle itself is worth an additional suspension I'm sure the injury to Ruiz and the fact it was late in a blowout game will bias MLS into giving a longer suspension.
  • Alan Gordon should have seen more than yellow for his tackle on C. Gomez early in the second half, and PrimaDonnavan should have gotten a yellow for going to O'Brien's throat after O'Brien's tackle on Ruiz.
  • Solid quiet play from our young duo of DiRaimondo and LaBrocca in the defensive midfield. Never really caught out of position, no serious mistakes, and good transistion work.

Man of the Match: Terry Cooke, without a doubt. Winning goal, 2 assists, sets up the PK. Think he has a chip on his shoulder about Beckham or something?

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