Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Football isn't a matter of life and death - it's much more important than that"

Bill Shankley could have been talking about tomorrow's game when he said those words. The Rapids travel over the Continental Divide on their annual trip to SLC. Not only are the Rapids playoff chances at stake, but the Rocky Mountain Cup could be decided tomorrow night. The Rapids currently have a 3 point lead in the competition with only 2 games to play, so a win tomorrow means the Cup comes home to Denver. A number of fans are making the trip to RES to cheer on Colorado in person, but those that aren't will be meeting at the British Bulldog as normal. Kickoff is at 7pm MDT.

Here's the injury report:

OUT: MF Mehdi Ballouchy (concussion); MF Terry Cooke (L hamstring); MF Greg Dalby (R ankle); GK Justin Hughes (L groin); DF Ugo Ihemelu (concussion); MF Pablo Mastroeni (R hamstring); PROBABLE: DF Jordan Harvey (R knee); DF Jose Burciaga Jr. (R hip); MF Jacob Peterson (L hip)

DISCIPLINE: Suspended after 1 more yellow card - Colin Clark, Pablo Mastroeni

My lineup prediction:

Bouna Time!
Erpen - Gibbs - Petke - Harvey
Peterson - C.Gomez - LaBrocca - Clark
McManus - Casey

After a long stretch relatively injury-free the Rapids are the walking wounded this week. I expect that Gomez will find his way back into the starting 11 with Ballouchy and Dalby injured. I think Burciaga proved himself a liability last week and will be replaced by Harvey. Finally I expect Smith to switch back to a 4-4-2 to get Casey some help up front.

Critical Matchup: Rapids midfield vs. the RES turf

FSL plays its home games on the worst surface in the league, a turf field sitting on top of concrete. They've been able to take advantage of this by learning the play of the pitch and riding that to an undefeated home record this year. Its vital that the Rapids keep possession in this game, and they do that by the midfield being able to handle the turf and adjust accordingly.

Keys To Look For:

  • Gomez will be coming off the bench after two games of not playing. Can he reintegrate himself into the team?

  • Is it Bouna Time or Burpo Time?

  • Controlling the passion. The RMC is a heated rivalry and we've seen FSL lose it in the past and make the game more about taking out the Rapids than winning. Whichever team plays with passion without losing control will have the advantage.

  • Will Peterson do something with the ball when he gets the chance?

  • Making our chances count. For the last month to six weeks the Rapids have created chance after chance without finishing them. At some point we're going to have to start putting those chances away.

Prediction: 1-0 win. The Rapids have a winning record in RES, so they don't face the same road problems there that they do everywhere else. We'll squeak out the win and bring the Cup back where it belongs!


Allen said...

3 1/2 years of Clavijo yapping about injury problems and we finally have some after he's gone.

wewantrapidman said...

I see it being Burpo time. Burpo has done little wrong and Bouna is due to go off to Africa again next week with the Senegal team. Would make no sense to play him for one game.
It's concerning that RSL has not lost at home this season. Christian Gomez could be key. If he is up for it, we could do it. If he pales into insignificance as he often seems to, we could be doomed. His best game this year remains the MLS All Stars game.