Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rapids Supress the Revolution 1-0

The Rapids ran out the same starting 11 for the third time. This might be a record in the Clavijo era. ;) No complaints though, as this 11 seems to be getting the job done. They certainly kept the Revs in check last night, with a good enough performance on the road to get the 3 points.

Both teams played a 5 man midfield to start and that. combined with the pouring rain, lead to a lack of rhythm from both teams in the first half. Late in the half New England began to assert their dominance and control the flow of the game, but the Rapids defense was up to the task and the best chance of the half for either side was Christian Gomez's shot from inside the 6 yard box with Revs keeper Matt Reis already on the ground. Unfortunately Jay Heaps was in place to clear it off the line and the teams went to the locker room scoreless.

The second half started out with a major change for the Rapids, as Christian Gomez's night was done. He was seen rubbing his knee before the half so presumably he picked up a knock. New signing Tam McManus replaced him and the Rapids switched to their 4-4-2 "empty bucket" formation they used last year, with similar results. They played like a better version of their 2007 selves, defending, defending, defending and hoping to win 1-0 on a counter-attack goal, and that's exactly what they did. Khano Smith committed a stupid foul outside the box, Burciaga stepped up, floated the free kick in, and LaBrocca got a head on it and slotted inside the far post. After that it was just a matter of playing strong defense until the final whistle.

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

  • How tired are the Revs after their midweek game?
  • The Revs didn't appear to "want" this game as much as the Rapids. I don't know if it was the weather or the fatigue but the Rapids looked like the hungrier team
  • 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.
  • This was absolutely the case. Our defense harried them whenever they had the ball. Our offense may not have been as impressive, especially after Gomez came off, but we hustled all night.
  • Can Gomez draw enough defensive interest to free up the rest of our attack?
  • This one didn't happen. Obviously his injury kept him from being as effective, but even early in the game our offense was pretty non-existent.
  • 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?
  • Nyassi only played for a half, due to fatigue, while Mansally wasn't as dangerous as he had been rumored to be. I think our defense did a good job keeping them contained.
  • Burciaga Jr's speed vs. Nyassi's speed. I expect to see these two racing up and don the sideline all night.
  • Again, Nyassi wasn't really a threat, so kudos have to go to Burciaga for containing him while still being involved in what attack that we had.
  • 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?
  • Well Pablo was a late scratch from the roster, and Gomes didn't see any time. I think this was largely because of the injury to Gomez and the fact that Kimura was teetering on the edge of a second yellow forcing Clavijo to make other substitutions. That and the continued outstanding play of LaBrocca and DiRaimondo.
  • Does Tam McManus get any time?
  • That's a yes, as he came in for Christian Gomez after halftime. I can't say that he particularly stood out, but then again out focus was on defense last night, not on offense.

Critical Matchup: Christian Gomez vs. Shalrie Joseph - Well I have to say that Joseph and the Revs got the best of this matchup. Possibly Gomez was more injured early on that we realize, but I never felt like our offense got on track at any point in the game, and Gomez missing a golden chance inside the 6 with the keeper on the ground didn't help. Hopefully its a minor injury and he'll be back in the starting 11 next week.

Fact of the Match: The Rapids have 7 goals this season, tied for most in MLS, from 7 different players

Random Observations:

  • This is one of those cases where "good teams win ugly". It wasn't a pretty match, but we played well enough to get the win.
  • The Rapids have now scored more goals this season from set pieces or the resulting play off a set piece than from the run of play. Its been a long time since that's been the case.
  • Cummings did well to help set up the free kick that led to the goal. Even with his up and down play he's been involved in at least 4 of the goals this season. He seems to make things happen for others, but I'm not convinced he can make things happen for himself.
  • Cooke and Clark were pretty quiet this game. Cooke did a good job tracking back on defense though.
  • 3 points on the road. Let me say that again, 3 points on the road. As bad as we may have played you can't complain about the result.
  • Looking at our first 3 games, I think we would have been happy to have a win and 2 draws. Two wins and a loss is better than expected.
  • This is the first time this season I predicted the correct result. Don't use my line to bet with apparently. ;)

    • Man of the Match: Bouna Time! Anytime you're outshot 19 to 4 (9 to 1 on shots on goal) and you get a win, a lot of credit has to go to the keeper. Bouna came up huge a couple of times. Honorable mention goes to LaBrocca, who was a monster in midfield and got the winning goal.

      1 comment:

      Joey said...

      Bouna is the man. After his showing at the African Cup, and a tremendously strong start to the season, you know his stock is going way up. He's deserving of a raise if the Rapids want to retain his services, you know a foreign club can pick him up cheaply.