Monday, May 25, 2009

Sounders Slip Away Like Greased Pigs

The Rapids again tried to sit on a one goal lead and again failed to do so. For the first time this season the Rapids trailed at home after giving up the first goal to Freddy Montero. Ihemelu botched the play (again) and Gibbs ball watched as Montero's first shot rebounded off the post right back to him and he headed back into the net. The never say die (while losing) attitude of the 2009 Rapids continued though, and 8 minutes later Cummings got free on the right and sent a cross along the grass into the box which Colin Clark neatly back-heeled into the net to level the score.

The Rapids continued to control the game, and should have been rewarded with another goal before halftime. However Kasey Keller lived up to his reputation with two huge saves in the last minutes of the half. first denying Conor Casey's header (a ball that no other keeper who's ever played in MLS would have gotten to) and then stonewalling LaBrocca on a 1v1. It didn't take long after the break for the Rapids to take the lead though. In the 48th minute Casey made a run with the ball into the box and tried to beat Keller on the far post. As Keller dove to try to make the save the ball deflected off a Sounder and looped up over Keller into the net. Casey may have had Kasey beat without the deflection anyway, but either way the Rapids were leading 2-1.

Then the Rapids patented "Sit on a 1 goal lead" strategy kicked in, and Seattle slowly started to regain control of the game. The momentum shifted towards Seattle, and they made it count. In the 76th minute Palguta went down with cramps, leaving Kimura to guard 2 players on an incoming cross. Riley found the open man (Montero) who nodded the ball down past Gibbs to Jaqua, who buried the chance. After that both teams had a couple of chances, including one huge save from Pickens, but neither team could find the game winner.

My key to the game was the Rapids offense vs. Kasey Keller. As I predicted Keller was hard to beat, but we did get two by him. After not allowing 2 goals at home yet this season I thought that would be enough, but the defense continued its badly timed bran farts.

Other Observations:
  • Casey's 6th goal of the year puts him in a 5 way tie for the league lead.
  • Ballouchy had some good moments this week, but still some bad ones. He is showing some improvement, but he's still not starter quality yet.
  • For a National Team defender as recently as last November, Gibbs looked pretty bad on both goals. I'm not sure he could have stopped either one, but he didn't make a decent attempt at either one..
  • Ihemelu, ugh (for the second week in a row). His 'defense" on the first goal consisted of him going to ground on a chest high-ball. Even if he makes a play all he'll do is take Montero's legs out from under him, leading to a PL and probably a red card. The last 10-15 minutes of his game was horrible and I was not at all surprised by him being subbed out.
  • Strong game from Pablo. He's not as noticeable this season, in a good way.
  • LaBrocca kept pinching in all night. I don't know if that was intentional or just his habit but he's a clear central starter and clearly not a wing starter.
  • I'm wondering if its time to give Cummings a chance on the right when Cookie isn't available. He's been solid with the crosses this year, but not great with the shooting.
  • End the Jacob Peterson experiment. He doesn't have the game for MLS. I know he's a great guy, but after a decent rookie year he's never scored more than 1 goal a year or had an assist. Its obvious that he can't play striker at this level.
  • All in all this was two points lost. Its also the second year in a row we've failed to beat the expansion team at home. We have to do better when we control the game like we have against LA and Seattle at home.
Player of the Game: Conor Casey. Continued his hot start to the season and seemed to be the only player who cared about getting the winning goal late in the game.

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