Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rapids Burned by the Fire 2-1

The Rapids showed up to play last night, right around the 80th minute. Unfortunately they were already down 2-0 at that point and ran out of time as they tried to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.

The first half was a snore fest, with only on real chance that McManus shot right at the keeper, and another shot that Clark worked hard to get and put just over the corner of the goal. Bouna had some adventures on the other end, but nothing serious and the teams went to half scoreless.

In the second half the Rapids looked like the Rapids of old, namely 2007, as they seemed to be playing for the 0-0 draw. That only lasted until the 53rd minute as John Thorrington (No, I didn't realize he was still in the league either) was left unmarked to race into the box and put away a loose ball. There were 3 Fire attackers in the box, and not a single one of them was marked. The play started with Erpen sliding wildly to stop a pass, and missing completely.

The Rapids went into a shell at that point, with only McManus pressing hard up front. Finally about the 80th minute the team started attacking to get the tying goal, but John Thorrington would reappear in the 84th minute. The play started (stop me if you've heard this before) with Erpen sliding wildly to stop a pass, and missing completely. This once again left Fire attackers unmarked in the box and Bouna could only flail at Thorrington's shot as it went by him for the 2-0 lead.

Two minutes later Gomez lined up a free kick outside of the box, but mis-hit it badly. So badly that it got past the Fire defenders and McManus was able to redirect it on net for his first goal as a Rapid, and giving the Rapids a spark of life. What followed was 8 minutes of the best attacking pressure the Rapids have shown this season, with a couple of solid chances on net, but no result. The final kick of the game was a corner in the Rapids attacking end that Bouna Time! got his head on, but directed it over the net. The ensuing goal kick resulted in the full time whistle, and the Rapids went down to their 3rd defeat in 4 games.

As always, lets review my Keys to the Game:

  • How do we bounce back? Last week was an embarrassing loss at home. Is this the start of another slide to mediocrity for the Rapids, or does the quality team was saw in the first couple games return?
    We didn't bounce so much as thud. For the first 80 minutes we looked like a slightly better version of the team that played San Jose. Chicago is a much better team that San Jose though, so the slight improvement we showed wasn't enough.
  • How does Clavijo react to the loss? Historically its been an excuse for him to play musical chairs with the starting 11, but this season he's shown a patience that I wasn't aware he had
    3 changes to the starting 11, 1 forced by injury and 2 tactical changes. Pablo was a solid improvement in midfield, as good as DiRaimondo has been playing I think he's lost his starting spot when he gets healthy McManus was more dangerous than Cummings, and was able to create his own chances more than Cummings is. Gray for Kimura was a wash.
  • Where is Christian Gomez? So far the trade has been a bust for the Rapids. One PK goal and 0 assists is not what we paid our DP slot for. Its time for Gomez to step up
    Quiet again this week. He got an assist on the goal, but that was more luck than anything. The trade is looking like a loser at this point.
  • Dealing with the injuries. We're going to have 1 or 2 changes in the lineup due to the injuries to DiRaimondo and LaBrocca. You would think we would improve by adding Pablo to the starting 11, but it doesn't always work that way
    Only one injury change, and Pablo improved the lineup.
  • The possession game. Last week we had no ability to keep possession in the midfield, which led to long balls over the top to our lone striker. The two d-mids have to link up with Gomez and the wingers better.
    We actually did a better job possessing the ball this week, until the attacking third. There's a lack of patience on this team, eventually somebody decides to blast the ball forward and we lose it.

Critical Matchup: Mastroeni vs. Blanco - I'll give the defense credit, as bad as they were ball-watching on the goals, they kept Blanco from having a major impact on the game. Of course, nobody expected John Thorrington to resurrect his career last night.

Fact of the Match: The Rapids have scored 2 goals in their last 3 games, after scoring 6 in their first two games.

Random Observations:

  • Use the wings! Like Cooke last week, time and time again Clark was open on the left and people just missed it.

  • Pablo is still Pablo. After a series of questionable fouls against Colorado Pablo was tracking a Fire player moving away from goal and you could see the foul coming 5 seconds before it happened.

  • Erpen is a disaster at the moment. The last 3 goals we've given up have come through him. I'm not overly fond of Keel either, so once Petke is healthy we may be forced to go to a Petke - Pablo central defensive tandem.
  • The Rapids defense is bad. We were fooled by the poor tactical choices of Ruud Gullit in LA game and the injuries in the NE game, but if it weren't for Bouna we would have given 4-5 goals up last night, again.
  • Normally a 2-1 scoreline in Chicago wouldn't be that bad, but on the heels of the 2-0 loss to San Jose and with Dc coming to town next week we're standing on the edge of a cliff, and I think we're about to fall off.

  • Christian Gomez needs to start earning his status as our unofficial DP player. Yeah, this is a copy from last week, still applies though.

  • I give the 4-5-1 one more game. If we don't see some improvements in the attack next game, it might be time for a formation change.

  • McManus earned a starting spot last night. Gray did not.

  • Gomes linked up better with the attacking players. It wasn't long after he came in that the Rapids attack started clicking. He's pushing for his own starting spot.

    Man of the Match: Tom McManus. Scored the goal, was the only attacker to be consistanly dangerous and pressing the attack, and he's Scottish, so he can't be crap. ;)

    Nick Thomas said...

    I think a Petke/Ihemelu partnership may be the best central defense. I also think that Keel is a little suspect at this level. He does some good things but he also causes a lot of heart failure. McManus is really standing out at the moment as one of the team's better players.

    Jason Maxwell said...

    I wasn't fond of Ihemelu at central d early last season, but it has been a year. Might be worth trying it at least.