Monday, June 2, 2008

Time for some thrilling heroics

It was Tom McManus with the Jayne Cobb "thrilling heroics" yesterday as his near-post shot got by Dallas keeper Ray Burse Jr. for the game wining goal.

The Rapids jumped out to an early lead with only their second first-half goal of the season. Christian Gomez spun away from a Dallas midfielder and chipped the ball over the defense to an on running Conor Casey. Casey turned a bad touch into a nice cutback, leaving the Dallas defense confused and went far-post with the shot for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. The rest of the half looked a lot like the first halves of Rapids games have looked all season and they eventually got burned for it. Rafael Gomes tried to clear the ball with a header and instead just knocked it straight up in the air. Casey and Mastroeni collided going up for the ball, leaving it to fall and be deflected into Odoro's path, who was able to get it past Preston Burpo for the tying goal.

The Rapids came out more aggressive in the second half, but it didn't lead to much early. Christian Gomez had a great individual run and set McManus up outside the box, but Burse was able to parry his shot away and over the line. Cummings had a couple of nice chances, but couldn't get the shot on frame. Finally the ball bounced the Rapids way. Gomes smacked the ball out of the back to clear the area and McManus took the chance to run onto it in the Dallas box. He nodded the ball down with his head and got enough space to squeeze the ball between the onrushing keeper and the near post. Shortly after that the Rapids shifted to a defensive formation to preserve the lead, but Burpo was not significantly threatened in this game outside of the shot that scored the goal and Colorado retook the lead in the West with the win.

Keys to the Game review:

  • First half play. I've been hammering this every week, and we haven't shown up yet. If we continue to play flat in the first half we'll be in holes we can't dig out of, like last week against Chivas
    Well we did better this week, getting an early goal before taking the rest of the half off. Dallas did make us pay for it.
  • Burpo's play. The reports out of the USOC game against LA said that Burpo did not look good. We'll be relying on him for at least 4 league games and a USOC match and he's going to have to step up.
    Burpo wasn't significantly tested in this game. His choices on a couple of balls were questionable, but he showed some good instincts to come out and take care of dangerous through balls.
  • How our defense handles Kenny Cooper. He has as many goals as the next 3 Dallas players combined. If we take him out of the game Dallas' offense will be hurting.
    Cooper who? He was pretty much invisible all game.
  • Can Pablo and LaBrocca handle Rocha? He's Dallas' midfield general.
    Rocha didn't make the trip
  • How does Clavijo balance the league needs vs. the USOC needs Wednesday night? Will he hold some players back for the USOC game, or go all out on Sunday?
    It doesn't seem like Clavijo worried about the USOC match. The only unusual sub was Cummings for Casey at half, so maybe he was considering keeping those two fresh for the game in KC
  • Patience and build-up in our offensive play. We do best when we don't bomb the ball over the top of the midfield.
    We were slightly better in this facet of the game. There were still many times when players passed on the easy short ball to go with the harder long ball pass though.

Critical Matchup: Cummings & McManus vs. the Dallas defense - OK, so it was Casey, Cummings, & McManus vs. the Dallas defense. As predicted we were able to break them down for 2 goals. Cummings had a couple of chances that he should have converted for another goal, one was a great save by Burse while another was a bad shot that didn't get anywhere near the frame.

Fact of the Match: This is the first time we've given up a lead this season. Its also the first time we've won when allowing the opposition to score.

Random Observations:

  • Tom McManus looks dangerous whenever he gets near goal with the ball. The last time the Rapids had a striker like that it was Jeff Cunningham.

  • Great assist from Gomez, but when he gets tired his play falls off a cliff. There were multiple times in the second half where he played balls that nobody could get to, then complained to his target for not getting to them. If he can provide that kind of assist in every match then we can live with that drop off, but he has to produce before he gets tired.

  • Clavijo's 3-5-2 seems to be playing more like a 5-3-2. Peterson and especially Clark spent a good deal of time in the back, leading to cases when the Rapids would start a break without enough players up front to play to. If Clavijo wants a 5-3-2 then Burciaga is the better choice on the left.

  • This strategy of defensive-minded wing players is probably why Cooke can't get back into the starting 11. Its a poor strategic choice by Clavijo IMO.

  • Gomes is not a central defender. He managed in place of Kimura, but he needs to be pushed up more if he continues to play.

  • A solid win over a bad team. We didn't look great, but we got the job done.

  • For the second time in three weeks I was dead on with my prediction of a 2-1 Rapids win.

  • Man of the Match: Tam McManus - Close call between him and Gomez, but I was excited about his play.


    Allen said...

    Gomez? Uhhh... Rafael's Brazilian.

    Jason Maxwell said...

    Whoops, my bad. Fixed. too many Gomez/s on this team...