Friday, October 24, 2008

Win Or Stay Home

The whole season comes down to 90 minutes at The Dick tomorrow night. Win and the Rapids host Chivas USA in the first round of the playoffs next weekend and lift the Rocky Mountain Cup. Lose or draw and watch FSL celebrate their first ever playoff berth on our field and they take the Cup back home with them.

Here's the injury report:

OUT: GK Justin Hughes (R shoulder); MF Christian Gomez (R ankle); DOUBTFUL: MF Pablo Mastroeni (L knee)

Suspended after 1 more yellow card: Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark,
Suspended after 2 more yellow cards: Conor Casey, Cory Gibbs, Nick LaBrocca

My lineup prediction:

Bouna Time!
Kimura - Ihemelu - Petke - Harvey
Cooke - Pablo - LaBrocca - Clark
McManus - Casey

Wewantrapidman reports that Gibbs and Gomez are unlikely to be fit for the game, and McManus is still fighting injury. I think Ihemelu slots in to Gibbs' spot on the back line and McManus lines up next to Casey if healthy, otherwise we'll see Cummings. That's probably our best 11 given our injury status.

Critical Matchup: Casey and McManus/Cummings vs. Borchers & Joy

FSL only needs a draw out of this game. They are one of the worst road teams in the league and they lost 2-0 in their first trip to the Dick this season. They aren't going to be real aggressive given that they get everything they need from a 0-0 draw. The Rapids forwards need to break down the FSL defense and stake Colorado to an early lead. Force FSL to have to attack and that will open up the back for speedy players like Clark and Cummings.

Keys To Look For:

  • Does every player leave it all on the field? This is the best circumstance for a final-must win game. Your rival at home. There's no excuse for any Rapids player not to run themselves into the ground tomorrow night.

  • How much does Ihemelu's mental breakdown cost us? Ugo makes one boneheaded move a game, sometimes the rest of the back line covers for him and sometimes they can't.

  • Can the Rapids use the emotion without losing control? Everyone who's seen the Rocky Mountain Cup before knows that the games get heated. We can't afford to pick up stupid cards because somebody loses their head.

  • It needs to be clear that if the Rapids get another PK, Casey takes it. Cooke has missed and McManus was saved in recent weeks. Go with the guy who has gotten the job done.

  • No excuses. Its not the officiating, its not injuries, its not bad luck. We win this game or we lose this game.

Prediction: 2-1 win. The Rapids remember what happened last season, watching their playoff hopes slip away at home at the hands of FSL. Clavijo's gone, Smith has the team believing, and the Rapids won't accept anything but a win. TOGETHER WE RISE!

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