Friday, September 26, 2008

Rapids try to water down Red Bull

The Rapids are in New York (Well, actually New Jersey) tomorrow to face the Red Bull New York Red Bulls. Colorado is barely holding on to the final playoff spot with only 5 games to go , leaving them little room for error.

Here's the injury report:

OUT: GK Justin Hughes (R shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: FW Tom McManus (L knee)

DISCIPLINE: Suspended after 1 more yellow card - Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark
Suspended after 2 more yellow cards - Nick LaBrocca

My lineup prediction:

Kimura - Gibbs - Petke - Harvey
LaBrocca - Pablo - Ballouchy - Clark
Casey - Cummings

Today's Denver Post is reporting that due to fighting the flu and a less than 100% hamstring Cookie won't start but will be available on the bench. Smith says he'll move LaBrocca over and play Ballouchy in the middle (Gomez? Who's that?). There's also some question about Pablo being ready, if he can't go I expect we'll see Peterson or O'Brien on the right so LaBrocca can be moved back to the center to team up with Ballouchy.

Critical Matchup: Juan Pablo Angel vs. Pablo

With Van den Bergh injured and Altidore now playing in Spain, Angel has 1 less goal than the rest of the Red Bulls combined. Its been 5 games since the Bulls scored a goal without the involvement of Angel or Van den Bergh. If Pablo can take Angel out of the game New York will have a tough time finding their offense.

Keys To Look For:

  • Can Burpo avoid the major error. He's done well the last couple of games not making huge mistakes but this is the type of game where one mistake might be one too many.

  • How do we deal with the roster churn? We've done well with the stable lineup over the last few games but we're looking at at least 2 new starters and one player changing positions tomorrow.

  • Can Cummings link up with Casey? Both players seem to do their own thing up front.

  • Is Gomez an actual option?

  • The turf. Giants Stadium is historically the worst surface in the league, though it was eclipsed the last four years by the turf at RES in Salt Lake City (Now out of the league with the new FSL stadium). Can the Rapids adjust to the bounce?

  • How greatly does Smith value this game in our playoff run? I don't see points in this game being critical, but we don't have much room to maneuver if we don't get points. Will Smith pull out all the stops for a draw or win, or will he conserve our players on the turf and save them for our 4 remaining games?

Prediction: 1-0 loss. I think the combination of travel, turf, and injuries will be too tough for the Rapids to overcome. Given New York's lack of offensive options I wouldn't be shocked by a draw, but at some point this team will have a let down before the end of the season and this seems to be the most likely spot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked the flugtag picture... as a side note, some former students of mine set the North American record for flugtag by flying a giant banjo for a record!