Monday, May 4, 2009

2 Points From Reclaiming the Rocky Mountain Cup!

For the first time all season the Rapids put it together for 90 minutes. This resulted in complete domination of he FaKe team from the West side of the Rockies and a 2-0 win for the good guys.

Gary Smith made two changes to his starting lineup from the last couple of games. Matt Pickens reclaimed the starting position in the net and Mehdi Ballouchy was (finally) benched in favor of Nick LaBrocca. While the Pickens-Burpo switch proved immaterial to this game (FSL had 0 shots on goal), starting LaBroca paid off in 10 minutes. After a couple of good attacks in the early going, Casey controlled a ball on the left side, sent a pretty through ball for Colin Clark to run onto, and he crossed it to a wide open Nick LaBrocca, who buried it past Nick Rimando for the early lead.

The game changed completely in a space of 6 minutes. In the 35th minute there was a collision between an FSL defender, FSL keeper Nick Rimando, and Conor Casey. Rimando was forced to leave the game with a cut hand and with backup Chris Setiz in Portland on load, FSL was forced to go to an untested MLS rookie. 6 minutes later Jamison Olave dove into a tackle on Conor Casey with both feet and the studs up. To add insult to injury he did it right in front of Class Vi. Needless to say we were all trying to help the ref to the right thing, and he did, showing Olave the way to the locker room with a red card.

At this point the Rapids took complete control of the game. While FSL had occasional forays into the attacking half, Colorado controlled the game for the remaining 49 minutes. In the 60th minute the Rapids put the game away. Cookie played the ball across the top of the box for an onrushing Kimura, who blasted it past the rookie goalkeeper for his first ever MLS goal.

At that point what remaining fight FSL had left faded. The only incident of note was late int he game. As Pablo was trying to control a ball in the FSL box Javier Morales swung an intentional elbow into Pablo's face, leaving him down for a few minutes. I would not be surprised to see MLS issue a suspension for the foul, even though it was missed by the referees. The game ended with the Rapids having a passing exhibition for 4-5 minutes, accompanied by chants of 'Ole!' 'Ole!' from the stands.

My key to the game was who wanted it more. We did early on, and when FSL was faced with being down a goal, down a man, on the road, and a rookie keeper in goal they folded.

Other Observations:
  • The Rapids got a bit lucky in the first few minutes. Ihemelu clearly played the ball back to Pickens and Pickens scooped it up with no call. The shot would have been at a difficult error on the free kick, but it was better we didn't have to deal with it.
  • What do you think Ballouchy's thinking? His replacement gets a goal in 10 minutes.
  • The outside backs really stepped up in this game. Harvey and Kimura had their best games of the season.
  • Kimura's goal was the first for a Japanese player in MLS. His parents were also in town from Japan, its got to feel good to score your first professional goal in a situation like that.
  • Burpo did well, but I'm glad to see Pickens back in the nets.
  • I'm disappointed that we didn't take bigger advantage. A 2-0 win is great for our league standing, but we really could have used another goal (or two!) to put the pressure on FSL in the Rocky Mountain Cup.
  • After my midweek post about he Rapids only having a 2 goal lead once under Gary Smith, it was nice to get another one.
  • Well played all around by the team. Best game of the season so far.
Player of the Game: Nick LaBrocca. Tough choice this week. I considered Pablo, Kimura, Harvey, Clark, and Kimura. In the end I had to go with LaBrocca. He was put back into the starting lineup in a new position and made the most of it. He scored, ran the midfield, and hustled all game.

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