Monday, March 30, 2009

Rapids Benefit From Home "Cooke"ing

After 45 minutes of bad soccer from both teams the Rapids managed to play slightly better than the Wizards in the second half and started off their home schedule with a win. I'd spend more time on the first half than that, but it was really bad soccer with nothing to be gained from reviewing it other than figuring out who played the worst.

I'd like to say the second half was significantly better but I'd be lying. Still the Rapids had the better overall play, and if it weren't for a complete mental blunder by Cory Gibbs the Rapids would have put the game away. The half stared out with Claudio Lopez getting a free run at goal, but Matt Pickens made the first of a number of saves to keep the Rapids in the game. In the 65th minute KC's Leathers picked up a yellow card for a foul just outside the box. This stoppage of play allowed the Rapids to make a sub, and that's when the game changed. Terry Cooke was inserted for Jacob Peterson and ran over to take the free kick. After discussions with Ballouchy Cooke opted to take the kick, and with his first touch of the season he put the ball into the back of the net to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead.

The lead did not last long however. On a clearance upfield Cory Gibbs bizarrely let the ball bounce past him without making much of an effort. He had no help behind him (Harvey and Ihemelu were not to be found) and Michael Kraus ran on to the loose ball with only Pickens to beat,. Pickens went low, Kraus chipped over him, and KC tied the score after only 4 minutes. Pickens would make 2 more clutch saves in the half to keep KC at 1 goal.

5 minutes later the Rapids would strike back with one of the better goals in recent years. Off a Kc corner kick Terry Cooke (again!) played a long diagonal ball out of the back to a streaking Colin Clark. The KC defense converged on him like they had been doing all night, but this time Clark saw the opening and played the ball into the middle of the field in front of an onrushing Omar Cummings. Cummings made Hartman go low and then put it past him for his second goal in two games. The quick counter-attack and smooth passing was a example of skill rarely seen at DSG Park. After that the Rapids hunkered down to protect their lead, and made a couple of solid forays forward led by pinpoint crosses form Terry Cooke.

My Key to the Game was discipline, and the Rapids didn't show it. Sloppy passing, questionable runs, and a complete brain fart from Gibbs hurt the team all night. The only thing that saved us was that KC played even worse, and not because of anything we did. I'll take the 3 points anyway I can get them, but we need t improve, quickly, if we're going to compete this year.

Other Observations:
  • Ballouchy is a black hole in midfield. I can count the number of quality forward passes he made on one hand. Whatever Smith thinks he's getting out of him, he's not
  • Peterson is all speed and nothing else. Given the amount of time he's been in the league I expect more by now. Cooke did significantly more in his 26 minutes than Peterson has done in his 84 minutes this season.
  • Ugo Ihemelu had a solid game on defense. His distribution needs work (too many long balls) but he took over the enforcer role that Pablo left vacant while in El Salvador and broke up countless KC attacks. I kept waiting for his once-per-game mental blunder, but it never came.
  • I feel for Kimura. People complain about his distribution, but when your two outlets are Peterson and Ballouchy, you aren't getting much help. At one point I could almost see him look at Peterson, think "That will kill the attack", look at Ballouchy, have the same thought, then play a neutral ball to Ihemelu.
  • Pickens likes to go to Kimura for outlets. I think 90% of his outlets in the first half went to KK.
  • If Clark can find the balance between going at 1-2 players and passing when he's double-teamed he's going to be very, very dangerous. Finding Cummings on the goal was a perfect example of this. He's dangerous enough on the dribble that the opposition will need to bring help over to cover him, and that will make an opening elsewhere on the field for him to exploit.
Man of the Match: I can't decide so I'm splitting it between Terry Cooke and Matt Pickens. Cooke's entry into the game completely changed the nature of the Rapids game, and he was the most dangerous player on the field all night. it wouldn't have mattered though if Pickens hadn't come up big on 3-4 saves to keep the Rapids in the game. Thus they get to split the award.


matt said...

Ballouchy moves like a a black hole in midfield. He has one speed and gear. He never sprints or runs with pace. Watch him next game, he never breaks a jog. I'm not sure how he is in the MLS. I have not idea what G Smith sees in him.

Jester said...

If Cooke continues to play like that, It's going to be real hard for Smith to leave him out of the starting lineup. That said, I still expect him to start next week on the bench.

Dylan said...

Cooke never should've been left out anyways! The only negative I can see with him is that he doesn't get the ball enough! Terry plays a true European or British style, waiting in the wings for a pass so he can play a cross right to his teammate's head or foot for a goal. Sounds like some other famous Brit midfielder I know of...