Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rapids Take Foot Off Gas, Give Away 2 Points

The Rapids came home to a cold night, a large field, and die-hard fans, all factors that should have helped them to a win. Instead they settled for a 1-0 lead, PrimaDonnavan made them pay, and the Rapids ended the night snatch a draw from a game they should have won.

Terry Cooke got his first start of the season, but otherwise it was the same group that faced Houston. Unfortunately the team played much the same way as they did against Houston and Columbus. The team was disorganized in the back, non-existent for stretches in the midfield, and not dangerous enough up front. As you can expect, this led to some pretty ugly soccer for the home fans to watch.

Thins weren't as bad as the Houston game though. The combination of Cooke and Clark on the wings made for a more cohesive midfield that was able to maintain some possession and make some decent passes. After a first half where LA outshot the Rapids in the second half Colorado turned up the pressure and took control in the early going. In the 60th minute Cummings made a good run through the midfield and fed Clark at the top of the box. Colin took a couple of touches, pushed the ball to his left, and placed in inside the far post to give the Rapids the lead.

In the 72 minute Casey and Cummings played a nice 1-2 combination that had Cummings free on goal. LA defender Tood Dunivant made a desperate lunge to push the ball away from Omar and to the keeper. Center official Alex Prus called Dunivant for the foul and showed him the red card. LA's players pleaded with the official to consult with the Assistant Referee on that side of the field and Prus agreed. After a consultation he re-started play with a drop ball to the keeper and Dunivant was allowed to stay on the field.

LA took full advantage of the second chance. 8 minutes later A ball over the top was tapped back to the keeper by Ihemelu instead of clearing it. The kick wasn't strong enough and Ugo was shouldered off the ball by Edson Buddle, giving him a 1v1 on goal. Burpo came up with the big save but Klein collected the rebound and sent a shot towards goal. Ihemelu, compounding his mistake, allowed Donovan a free run at goal and he redirected Klein's shot into the net for LA's first ever goal at the Dick. After that LA sat back, defended the draw, and got out of town with one point.

My key to the game was home dominance, and we didn't have it. On a night where Colorado had every advantage favoring the type of game they should expect to play, they didn't capitalize. The Rapids should have run LA up and down the field with basic possession and passing, but instead they were happy to sit back and try to counter-attack for the win at home. LA is the worst team in MLS, and we weren't able to drop the hammer on them at home. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the home season.

Other Observations:
  • Watching the replay on the red card Prus got the call right, eventually. The way he did it was a debacle. Showing the red card first and then appearing to be influenced by the players means he had no ability to control the game after that point. I'm happy the right call was made, but I expect MLS refs to do better than that.
  • Kimura got knocked out, literally, in the first half as Burpo came out and punched a ball away. Reports are that he's doing much better today, but it was a scary moment.
  • LaBrocca was forced to play right back for the first time after the Kimura injury, and did a good job of it. Its good to know that possibility exists.
  • Once again under Gary Smith we got a 1-goal lead, sat on it, and paid for it. Look for more on this in a separate post tomorrow
  • Burpo is starting to make me a believer, he's been impressive in this stint in goal.
  • Harvey had a solid game on the left. He did leave Klein open on the LA goal, but that was such a botched play by the central defense that I can't blame him for pinching in to cover.
  • While Palguta wasn't directly to blame on the goal he was nowhere to be seen at the time. Again, he expected Ugo to clear it but he should have followed up Donovan until he knew Ugo was back in the play.
  • Cummings floated in and out of this game. When he was playing he looked good, but he was invisible for long stretches.
  • Black Hole Ballouchy again. Not only that but his free kicks sucked. His corner kicks meandered to nobody and his free kicks went nowhere.
  • Mascots suck! Marco van Bison decided to stand on the rail of 108 and block the view as the Rapids were pushing for a winning goal in stoppage time. Then Franz the Fox decided to steal a ball after it went out of play with 30 seconds left and the Rapids were trying to quickly get a ball to get it back into play.
  • The Rapids stoppage time play was horrible. They spend half the stoppage time kicking the ball around the back, and when they had one last chance nobody was moving to allow Clark to get a throw-in into play. No urgency at all.
Player of the Game: Colin Clark. Got the goal, and made Ricketts make another couple of big saves, including one late after the score was tied. I considered both Harvey and Burpo for this as well. The rest of the team? Not so much.

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