Friday, May 16, 2008

And That, Gentlemen, Is How We Do That

Just as Gene Krantz and Jim Lovell got Apollo 13 back safely to Earth when failure wasn't an option, Christian Gomez and the Rapids took care of their job last night, sending FSL back to the West side with a 2-0 drubbing.

The Rapids continued their first half malaise, and while they may have had the better build-up, FSL had the more dangerous chances. No one person played badly, but the team as a whole seems to need 45 minutes to all get on the same page.

The second half was dominated by the Rapids. FSL only got one significant shot on goal, saved nicely by Bouna Time! while the Rapids kept the pressure up. Finally in the 65th minute Herculez found Clark streaking down the left side. This wasn't new, and Clark was beating Beltran like a drum all night. Clark took the pass and put a low cross into the box, out of the reach of Rimando. Cummings was able to race in and beat former Rapids Nat Borchers to it to redirect it off of Rimando's shin and into the back of the net. The Rapids continued to control play, and after a series of passes holding possession in the 82nd minute Herculez tried to chip the ball past Mantilla. Much like Ihemelu last week, Manitlla played the ball with his arm, and got called for the PK. Christian Gomez stepped up and sent Rimando the wrong way to put the final nail in FSL's coffin. The Rapids walked out with a 2-0 win (as I predicted) and a 3 point lead in the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Keys to the Game review:

  • Its FSL, our rival. The team's attitude from the opening whistle should be to shove the ball down their throats and don't stop for 90 minutes.
    The first half looked just like the San Jose and Houston games, so we really didn't shove the ball down their throats. Luckily we weren't punished for our weak opening.
  • FSL has not gotten a point on the road, and only scored 2 goals. The Rapids need to shut down their offense and keep pressing them until they collapse.
    The FSL offense looked pretty ineffectual. While Bouna made some adventures out of some crosses, they only threatened the goal twice. Once Kimura came back to clear and Bouna made a good stop late in the game on the second chance.
  • The team needs to keep their emotions in check. Pablo has a history of picking up cards for dissent in this series, and we saw the bench get out of hand last week.
    Good job by the team of keeping in control. If fact it was a calm affair for an RMC match, with only one yellow card being handed out, to former Rapid Chris Wingert.
  • The winner of the game takes sole possession of first in the West, at least for a couple of days. Its a big start to a 3 game home stand against the West for the Rapids. We need to set the tone in our stadium.
    The Rapids will stay in first at least until next week. If Dallas beats LA they will share first place for the week.
  • Short list this week. There's no acceptable result other than a win in this game.
    Done and done.

Critical Matchup: Pablo Mastroeni vs. Kyle Beckerman - While Kyle was obviously the leader for FSL, with no support our midfield was able to keep him contained. We did such a good job that Pablo was able to push forward more than normal, which led to a pretty awful shot by him in the first half. ;)

Fact of the Match: Kyle Beckerman has played all but 21 minutes in the history of the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Random Observations:

  • I think I've figured out what I don't like about Cummings. He doesn't look up to see the pass. If he gets the ball he's going to go right at goal until he's completely stopped, then look for the pass. Clavijo's comments after the game reflect similar feelings. As long as the team is aware of it and uses Cummings appropriately its not an issue.

  • Christian Gomez is making the trade look better every game. I may be force to eat my words by the end of the season.

  • Third formation of the year, shifting into the 3-5-2 this week. I'm not sold on 3 in the back against a good team, but it worked against FSL.
  • Jacob Peterson seems to have regressed some. Terry Cooke should get his starting job back when he's healthy.

  • Hopefully Bouna's time with Senegal will help him on crosses, he's turning a number of them into "Adventures in Goalkeeping".

  • Some great runs of possession late in the game. Its not often a Rapids team gives the fans an excuse to start the Ole' chant.

  • All in all, a great night at The Dick. I even picked up one of the Bouna Coundoul banners that were on the 16th Street Mall before the season. A $75 donation to the Rapids Community Care Foundation gets you your choice of a banner, based on what they have left.

  • Man of the Match: Colin Clark. He was dangerous down the left side, made Beltran look bad, and got the game-winning assist. There are any number of possibilities though, Christian Gomez, Omar Cummings, Facundo Erpen, and Kosuke Kimura were all considered.

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