Monday, September 29, 2008

Who were those guys and what did they do with the Rapids?

A whole lot of firsts for the Rapids on Saturday night. The first time this season they've come from behind to win. The first time in their history they've scored 5 goals on the road. The first time this season the Rapids gave up 4 goals. It was a wild and crazy affair at the Meadowlands Saturday night.

The game started out quickly with Omar Cummings scoring in the 3rd minute. Conor Casey got behind the defense off a Kimura pass and forced Jon Conway to make a play on the ball, Conway could only deflect it and the ball felt right to Cummings who had an open net. The lead didn't last long though as two minutes later Cory Gibbs sent a weak backpass to Burpo that allowed Mike Magee to swoop in and put it past the onrushing keeper. The draw was only 6 minutes old when Cummings played the best ball I've ever seen from him, putting Casey in on Conway while sandwiched between two defenders and Conway couldn't make the save. Things settled down for 20 minutes or so after that flurry.

In the 34th minute a long ball was played over the top of the Rapids defense and Pablo Mastroeni scrambled back to try to control it. Magee played the ball in and it deflected off of Pablo's arm, the PK was called and converted by Angel. 6 minutes later there was a complete defensive breakdown with 2 Red Bulls left open and Richards was able to take a diagonal pass and slot it home for NY's first lead of the game. The Rapids weren't done though, scoring in the 40th and 43rd minute. The first was off a Mehdi Ballouchy corner that was headed down to Mike Petke. He settled the ball, changed feet, paused for a beat, and sent the ball into the roof of the net from about 4 yards out to tie the score. 3 minutes later Cummings got to a ball on the end-line and sent a great cross to a wide open Casey. Casey was at a bad angle and instead of taking a low-percentage shot headed the ball back to the spot for an onrushing Nick LaBrocca. Before Nick could get his shot off he was knocked down leading to a PK that Casey converted for a 4-3 halftime lead.

*deep breath*

After 7 goals in the first 45 the second half settled down to a more normal pace. Both teams had chances but it wasn't until the 74th minute that the scoreline changed. New signings Kandji and Mbuto were left unmarked in the box and combined to tie the score at 4 while Burpo was frozen trying to cover the near post. It looked like the game was going to end as a draw, but right at the end of the 90 minutes Ballouchy got the ball at midfield and took off down the left side. Outside of the box he stopped and lofted a cross in that Casey hit in midjump with a one time volley just inside the far post for the game-winning goal and his first hat-trick for the Colorado Rapids.

Keys to the Game review:

  • 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.
    Its hard to say that a keeper that let in 4 goals had a good game, but he didn't have a bad one. I wonder if Bouna would have come out and gotten to the ball before the pass that led to the last goal but other than that there were no major issues.
  • 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.
    Considering the roster changes were all on the attacking side, I don't think they caused any issues. ;).
  • Can Cummings link up with Casey? Both players seem to do their own thing up front.
    Assisted on one of Casey's goals, Casey essentially set up his goal, his cross to Casey set up the PK. I think that's a yes.
  • Is Gomez an actual option?
    No, it doesn't appear so.
  • 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?
    I don't think the turf had any more of an impact on the Rapids than on the Red Bulls. There were some crazy bounces for both teams though.
  • 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?
    Well he only subs in the last 10-11 minutes, and one of those was a time-wasting sub, so I think he wanted to save players as much as possible.

Critical Matchup: Juan Pablo Angel vs. Pablo
- Well Pablo created the PK that led directly to Angel being on the scoreboard, but other than that Angel was relatively quiet. Who know that RBNY had an offense without him though!.

Facts of the Match: There are a number of interesting facts about this game.

  • Casey's hat-trick was the 4th in Rapids history, joining John Spencer, Chris Carrieri, and Jeff Cunningham

  • Casey's 3 goals give him 8 for the season, and Cummings' 1 gives him 6. Jovan Kirovski led the team in scoring last season with 6 goals (4 from the PK spot)

  • This is the first time in Rapids history they scored 5 goals on the road

  • This ties the best 4 game stretch since the 5 game winning streak between July 4th and August 9th 2003

  • This is the first time the Rapids have come from behind to win this season

    Random Observations:

  • OK, so I was WAY off on my prediction. Who would have expected 9 goals though.

  • As good as the offense was, the back line was almost as bad. Gibbs and Harvey in particular had bad games, but Kimura seemed to lose his man fairly often as well.

  • Would anyone have said 5 goals for the Rapids with no Cooke, Gomez, or McManus?

  • Casey was man of the match, but Cummings had a great game, possibly his best as a Rapid.

  • LaBrocca looked better out on the wing than he has at central mid lately.

  • I hate that Giants Stadium turf. At least Toronto (and Seattle next year) as FieldTurf designed for soccer.

  • Petke showed some real cool on his goal. He took the time to get the shot right and was rewarded for it.

  • Overall great job by the team. I think you'd have to go back to the Mooch-led Rapids before finding a team that would have pulled out this result.

  • Man of the Match: Conor Casey - 3 goals, essentially an assist on Cummings' goal, and set up his own PK. Easy choice.

    1 comment:

    peleorei said...

    I have been telling a coaching friend that the Rapids talent is ok and that they can compete with any side in the league if Fernando and his ways would go. I think we are seeing that now. The team is playing for Gary Smith and each other. The talent is good enough to play with anyone in the league.