Friday, April 25, 2008

Rapids to Fight Fire in Chicago

The Rapids are back on the road tomorrow, in the Windy City to face the Fire at 6:30pm MDT on HDNet. If you don't get HDNet Class VI will be gathering at the British Bulldog in downtown Denver to watch the game.

Here's the injury report:

OUT: FW Conor Casey (L knee); DF Mike Petke (R foot); GK Justin Hughes (L groin); DOUBTFUL: MF John DiRaimondo (L ankle); QUESTIONABLE: MF Nick LaBrocca (nose); PROBABLE: DF Ugo Ihemelu (R hip)

Today's Denver Post has an article about some of the changes we'll see this weekend. Given though, my lineup prediction:

Bouna Time!
Gray - Keel - Erpen - Burciaga Jr.
Mastroeni - Gomes
Cooke - C. Gomez - Clark

The article talks about Gray and McManus getting the start. Starting Gray is apparently a tactical decision due to his height, while no explanation is given for McManus over Cummings. The way Cummings has played in the last couple of games I think its time to give somebody else a chance. Pablo is ready to start and will be in for the injured DiRaimondo, while I'm guessing that Gomes will start if LaBrocca can't go.

Critical Matchup: Mastroeni vs. Blanco

This is an easy one to figure out. Blanco might be the best striker in the league, while a healthy Pablo is one of the best d-mids. If the Rapids can shut Blanco down and force the Fire to find other options they'll be reduced to hoping Chad Barret can hit the broad side of the barn, which he proved last week is questionable at best. If we have to rely on Erpen or Keel to stop Blanco, it will be a long day for the Rapids.

Keys To Look For:

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

Prediction: 1-1 The Rapids are still questionable on the road, and are playing one of the better teams in MLS. I'd be surprised if we got the win, and I won't be shocked if we lose. Still I think our defense can prevent the Fire from going crazy, and I think Gomez might start asserting his influence on the team.

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