Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rapids Rage While Fire Fizzle

Sorry for the sparse posting around here lately. Work has been busy and I'm not getting much sleep. Things are settling down though, so we'll have the Weekend Update tomorrow, my last mid-season Report Card on Thursday, and the NE game preview on Friday.

The Rapids started out on Sunday pushing the attack but had problems getting anything on frame. In fact the Rapids first shot on goal resulted in their first goal. After 3-4 shots by McManus that were just offline, Jordan Harvey got the ball along the endline and sent a weak shot at goal. Fire keeper Jon Busch parried the ball into the far side of the net. Busch was credited with an own goal, but Harvey was also credited with a shot on gaol. This odd statistic would continue,m as the next shot on goal was by Omar Cummings after a nice square ball by Terry Cooke. Cummings took the pass 30 yards from net, spun, and sent a low ball right inside the near post for the 2-0 lead. 3 minutes later the Fire finally got their first shot, but it was harmless. The teams would go to the locker room with the Rapids leading in shots (5-1), shots on goal (2-0) and goals (2-0).

The second half was a series of wasted opportunities by both sides. The Fire wouldn't get their first shot on frame until the 72nd minute, by which time the game was pretty much out of reach. Preston Burpo would have to come up big twice in the last minute to preserve the shutout though. On the offensive side the Rapids would only mount one dangerous shot by Colin Clark in the 87th minute. The Rapids were happy with that though as they did something they had not done all season by winning back-to-back games.

Keys to the Game review:

  • Can Burpo step up his game and show why he deserves to be the starter?
    No. To be fair though he didn't do anything to make me think he shouldn't start either. Two great saves late in the game, but some very questionable decisions on dealing with crosses. Overall a pretty neutral game from him.
  • Do McManus and Cummings work together better than McManus and Casey?
    I thought so. McManus was very active all game, and the two of them combined to pressure the Fire defenders into a number of mistakes.
  • Can Gibbs and Petke keep Rolfe contained? With Barrett gone Rolfe is the biggest weapon the Fire have after Blanco.
    Rolfe was quiet all game, and the defensive line as a whole had one of the best games I've seen all season from the Rapids defense.
  • Who wins the air war? Both teams like to use outside wingers to cross into the box, the team that can take advantage of those crosses will be the one to win the game.
    Neither team was able to use the aerial game on Sunday. Some pretty poor crosses from both sides resulted in few dangerous chances.
  • If our offense can't break down the Fire, will Smith finally turn to Christian Gomez?
    The Rapids didn't need to turn to Gomez with a 2 goal lead. Still when Cooke came out and Ballouchy was put in I was surprised. Gomez does everything Ballouchy does better.

Critical Matchup: Pablo vs. Blanco - Blanco who? Mr. White was Mr. Invisible on Sunday. During the game I thought Pablo was somewhat quiet given all the work the defense was doing, but looking back I don't remember Blanco being all that involved either. If Pablo takes himself out of the game to take No-Neck Blanco out of the game, I can live with that.

Fact of the Match: This is only the second time this season we've scored two goals in the first half. The other time was our 4-0 win against RBNY on the 4th of July.

Random Observations:

  • Huge nod to the defensive line. Kimura, Gibbs, Petke, and Harvey were monsters on Sunday. Every time it looked like the Fire might have something going one of them stepped up and shut them down. The Fire didn't seriously threaten the goal until after the 80th minute when the game was all but wrapped up.

  • Cookie was off all day. He's one of my favorite players, but I thought we waited too long to sub him. He would play the ball long while players would run short and vice versa, his crosses weren't sharp, and his ball handling was average at best.

  • I really think the Rapids are starting to find themselves. Smith has stabilized the team and done pretty well figuring out our best 11. I still think he needs to give the starting job back to Bouna though.

  • LaBrocca isn't doing anything to convince me he should be starting over Gomez. Nick has been solid, but not spectacular. Without a true attacking mind in the lineup both Clark and Cooke are having to pinch in to get the job done.

  • Tom McManus took a beating out there and just kept going. He may not be credited with a shot on goal he was dangerous the whole game.

  • Great job overall by the team. With the win they're right back in the playoff race.

  • Man of the Match: Kosuke Kimura - Kosuke had probably his best game in a Rapids uniform. He completely shut down the Fire's left side and came up big on a number of crosses from the other side. The whole defense played great this game, but Kimura really stood out.

    1 comment:

    Allen said...

    We need to find a way to transplant Burpo's soccer brain into Bouna.