Friday, April 11, 2008

Rapids Attempt to Quell the Revolution

The Rapids are in New England tomorrow at 5:30pm MDT on Altitude-2 Here's the injury and discipline report:

OUT: FW Conor Casey (L knee), DF Ugo Ihemelu (R hip), DF Mike Petke (R foot); GK Justin Hughes (L groin)

SUSPENDED - Ciaran O'Brien

My lineup prediction:

Bouna Time!
Kimura - Keel - Erpen - Burciaga Jr.
Diraimondo - Pablo
Cooke - C. Gomez - Clark

According to a report in today's Denver Post Kimura has won the starting right back job. I'm not sure what that means for Ihemelu, maybe he's competing with Erpen for the CB job next to Petke. The defensive midfield is still a toss up. When fully healthy Gomes and Pablo are the nominal starters and both got some playing time last week. At the same time, LaBrocca and DiRaimondo have done a good job this season, and should probably be rewarded for that. I don't see how you can keep a player of the caliber of Pablo out of the lineup though, and I think DiRaimondo has been slightly better than LaBrocca, so I gave those two the starting nod. I haven't been 100% right yet though, so we'll see what lineup Clavijo sends out there.

Critical Matchup: Christian Gomez vs. Shalrie Joseph

This is where we start to find out if the move to get Gomez was worth it. Joseph is one of the best, if not THE best, defensive midfielders in MLS. His duty in this game is going to be shut down Gomez and force the Rapids to work through the wings to get any offense going. Gomez has to do more than just draw Joseph's attention. He either has to beat Joseph and continue to be dangerous, or force New England's back line to step up and help Joseph shut him down, in order to free up space for Cookie, Clark, and Cummings. If Joseph can shut down Gomez 1v1 then New England's back four will out number our other offensive threats. If Gomez can get free and/or draw other defenders that will give out attacking trip the space they need to work.

Keys To Look For:

  • How tired are the Revs after their midweek game?
  • New England has the worst injury situation in the league right now. Combined with the midweek game the Rapids should be able to out-hustle them.
  • Can Gomez draw enough defensive interest to free up the rest of our attack?
  • New England's two Gambian signings, Mansally and Nyassi, are their most dangerous weapons right now. Mansally will probably start upfront and draw Erpen's attention, while Nyassi will be on the right side of midfield. How well can we defend them?
  • Burciaga Jr's speed vs. Nyassi's speed. I expect to see these two racing up and don the sideline all night.
  • Our players returning from injury. Gomes and Gomez have gotten some playing time so far, will they see more this week? And if Pablo doesn't start, when does he get into the game?
  • Does Tam McManus get any time?

Prediction: 2-1 win, New England is hurting, and played in KC in midweek. Short of going to San Jose, Toronto, or FSL, this may be the best chance the Rapids have this season to get 3 points on the road.

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