Monday, May 5, 2008

Players divided from United lead Rapids to victory

The Rapids had their most dominate performance since the opening match, while DC continued their run of play at altitude. Clavijo made 4 changes to the starting 11, benching Cooke, Clark, Keel and Burciaga in favor of Peterson, Cummings, Ihemelu, and Harvey and switched from the 4-5-1 to the more traditional 4-4-2 with LaBrocca taking up Clark's spot on the left. I questioned this change at the beginning of the game, but the Rapids proved me wrong.

The first half was dominated by the Rapids, outshooting DC 6 to 3, but the teams only combined for 1 shot on goal in the half. Still the Rapids were the more aggressive team, constantly pushing the ball into the attack, and if it weren't for some poor touches by Omar Cummings the Rapids probably would have managed a goal.

At halftime I was concerned that we had let DC stay in the game by not capitalizing on our dominance, but the team continued the pressure into the second half. In the 53rd minute Christian Gomez started a run down the left side, put a gorgeous spin move on Clyde Simms to get free for a pass, and led Jacob Peterson perfectly. Peterson didn't disappoint and first-timed the ball into the top of the net for the 1-0 lead.

The Rapids regressed to the 2007 Rapids for the next 10-20 minutes, allowing DC to dictate the play and being forced into defending their own goal. The Rapids finally got some possession in the attacking half and won a corner. Before the corner was taken Terry Cooke was brought on to replace Jacob Peterson. The Rapids showed patience after the corner and the ball pinged back out to Christian Gomez who found Cooke at the top of the box and on his second touch of the game he floated in a perfect cross that Erpen got his head on and put DC away with a second goal. After that it was just a matter of killing the game off.

Keys to the Game review:

  • Can we get out of our funk? So far this season we've played worse each game, cratering out with the San Jose game, and bouncing back a bit in Chicago. Still we haven't played a "good" game since KC, and we haven't dominated since LA.
    That would be a yes. The Rapids controlled the game from start to finish.
  • How does DC play at altitude? They haven't won in the Rockies since 2005, and they haven't won in Colorado since 2000, a span of 8 games.
    DC continued its unimpressive play at altitude
  • I said it in the critical matchup section, but Christian Gomez has to start taking control of this team
    2 assists and good control of the match, especially in the 2nd half. His free kicks were awful though.
  • Along those lines the early book on Gomez in Colorado seems to be hit him hard early and take him out of his game. If that continues, can he work past it?
    DC really didn't play rough with Gomez, but then again, DC didn't really play well at all. ;)
  • Is our defense more organized? San Jose and Chicago made the defense look like a USL side, save Bouna Time! Can they get their act together?
    This was well done, the addition of Ihemelu really kept the defense more organized, and Kimura and Harvey tracked back well after getting forward into the offense.
  • Can we get Cooke and Clark equally involved? Particularly in the second half of the last couple of games the field has been tilted to one side or the other, leaving the counterpart all alone on the other side, usually open, but never getting the ball.
    Well neither Clark or Cooke stated, but the Rapids did do a better job of switching fields and keeping everyone involved.
  • McManus has looked good in his playing time so far, but so did Cummings early. Can Tam continue or will he fade?
    McManus did not have a particularly good game, he had a hard time linking up with Cummings. The Rapids are still trying to figure out who should be starting up front.

Critical Matchup: Christian Gomez vs. Gallardo- Christian Gomez came to play yesterday. He controlled the midfield, and kept the Rapids pressure going. Meanwhile Gallardo had almost no impact on the game. Hopefully this is the kick-start Gomez needed.

Fact of the Match: In their 3 wins the Rapids have outscored the opposition 7 to 0. In their 3 losses they've been outscored 3 to 7.

Random Observations:

  • Great job by the whole team in controlling the game, that's what we need to be doing.

  • Bouna had is quietest game so far. The only significant play he had to make was punching out a DC kick in the first half. Great job by the defense in keeping the pressure off of Bouna.

  • Ihemelu looked good at central defense, something I never felt comfortable saying last year. I think a tandem of Ihemelu and Petke might be very solid.
  • We were a bit lucky that DC had no offense, as our lack of finishing could of hurt us. We only had 3 shots on target, even though we outshot United 17-5. Somebody needs to step up and become the goto guy in the box.
  • Christian Gomez earned his unofficial DP status this week, for the first time.

  • If we move to the 4-4-2 we need to find a spot for Cooke. Putting him on the bench for one game as a wake up call is fine, but he's too good to not have on the field.

  • If LaBrocca can hold down the left maybe we can try Clark up front for a game.

  • I'm not sold on Harvey at left back, he tracked back better than Burciaga but doesn't have as much offense to contribute. Some competition for the spot is good though.

  • Its going to be difficult to figure out our best 11 right now. Most of the team that's started has had some really good games and some really bad games. You'll see more on this in a post later in the week.

  • Man of the Match: Pablo Mastroeni. A bit of a surprise, given the good play of Christian Gomez, but I think Pablo's return to the lineup the last couple of games has really solidified the midfield, and he really kept DC from getting any kind of dangerous attack going.

    1 comment:

    Allen said...

    "Gallardo had almost no impact on the game"

    I completely disagree. He was the only DCU player that did much out there. Had any of the squawking turkey players remember U12 soccer & how to make runs, we would've been giving Gallardo more props. He had most or all of DCU shots, had some nice FKs and did a decent job distributing the ball on a day when his team failed to come out and play.