Monday, October 13, 2008

Rapids run swamped by Galaxy

The Rapids apparently left their playoff chances in Colorado when they left for LA, because the team played like they had no interest in continuing the season past the FSL game. A Galaxy offense devoid of stars managed 3 goals against a Colorado defense that was solid until the last 3 games. Meanwhile our incomplete offense could only manage 2 goals, and one of those came off a PK at the end of the game.

The Rapids came out in a 4-5-1 with Cooke and Clark playing way up to help out McManus, who was returning from injury. After a couple of offensive thrusts by the rapids the game settled into a back and forth affair of bad soccer. In the 36th minute Franklin found an unmarked Edson Buddle in the box and Buddle coolly slotted a shot inside the near post, beating Burpo. Gibbs made a poor choice on the play, coming out to pressure Franklin instead of staying with Buddle. Gibbs quickly made up for his error though. 7 minutes later he got his head on a Terry Cooke corner kick and levelled the score at 1. Cookie's assist gave him 11 for the year, good for 3rd in the league. The teams went to the locker rooms tied at 1.

The second half was all LA. The Rapids had no real control of the game and the introduction of PrimaDonnavan in the 63rd minute only increased the pressure on the defense until finally it broke. Ihemelu, starting in place of Petke, committed an unnecessary foul outside the side of the 18, giving former U.S. National Team free-kick taker Eddie Lewis a chance to tee up a great cross. In response to this the defense decided not to place a man on the near post and it cost them. With no defender there Indecisive Burpo Time struck and the ball got by him, hitting Ihemelu in the chest and deflecting into the back of the net for an own goal. There was very little Ihemelu could do though, if he wasn't making the run Buddle was ready to receive the ball for the easy goal.

The Rapids still had a chance, bit that was snuffed out 10 minutes later. In one of the stranger subs of the season (and that's saying something) Jose Burciaga was brought in for Terry Cooke in the 78th minute. 2 minutes late, on Burciaga's first touch, he played a weak backpass as the Rapids were transitioning to the attack that had no chance of reaching Gibbs and was easily intercepted. With the Rapids caught upfield there was nobody to mark Brandon McDonald and he unleashed a shot of the week from 40 yards out that swerved just outside if Burpo's reach to give the Galaxy a 3-1 lead. The Rapids would claw one back late on a weak penalty call. unlike last week a Brit, in this case McManus, stepped up and put it away but it was too little to late as the Rapds had no significant attack in stoppage time. They lost the game and control of their playoff destiny.

Keys to the Game review:

  • Absolute 100% must-win game for the Rapids. Our playoff hopes are shot if we don't get 3 points on Sunday. Does the team play like they know that?
    Nope, not really. There wasn't any sort of desire out there.
  • LA's a bad team when they have Old Spice and PrimaDonnavan. With them both gone on National Team duties the only offensive threat is Edson Buddle. Our defense should be able to shut down anything LA throws at the by keeping Pablo and/or a central defender on Buddle all night.
    Had they done that, we might have won the game. Instead they left Buddle unmarked on the first goal, and if Ihemelu hadn't been in Buddle's way on the own goal he would have had an easy second.
  • Rookie untested goalkeeper means the Rapids should shoot early and often. We shouldn't need the "perfect shot" to beat him.
    Full credit to Saunders, he came up big on a couple of shots. As one BigSoccer poster put it, "Their USL keeper is outplaying our USL keeper".
  • Burpo needs to pitch a shutout and make no stupid mistakes. With LA's offensive woes the most likely way for them to score is another assist by Burpo, like he had last week.
    Burpo had another bad game. He was beat near post on the first goal and his indecisiveness cost us on the second. There was nothing he could do about the third goal.
  • Christian Gomez really should be starting this game, but since he's not we have to assume he won't play unless injuries force Smith's hand.
    After I posted my game preview we found out Gomez had turned an ankle in practice this week. He didn't even travel to LA.

Critical Matchup: McManus and Peterson vs. LA's d-line - Well Peterson didn't play. McManus did all you could expect for a lone forward who is coming off of injury, and got the PK for his efforts. It wasn't enough though due to the play of our defense.

Fact of the Match: The last time the Rapids have given up 10 goals in three competitive matches were the last 3 games of 2001.

Random Observations:

  • Burpo is awful. Bouna has to start the next two games if we have any hope.

  • Pitiful performance from our defense, especially our two center backs. Gibbs needs to figure out what's gone wrong, he looked great in his first 4-5 games and poor in the last 3.

  • Why sub Burciaga for Cooke? What could that possibly gain us down a goal? Cooke didn't have the best night, but he's still the best option we have for corners and crosses into the box.

  • Once again the Rapids will finish no better than 3rd, for the 13th time in their 13 year history.

  • We've lost control of our playoff destiny. The "easiest" way to the playoffs now is to win our remaining games and have FSL not lose to Dallas next week.

  • Man of the Match: Tom McManus - Coming off of injury he said he was good for 70-80 minutes, maybe. He went the full game and was still fighting all the way to the end.

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