Monday, August 24, 2009

Rapids Defense Burned By Fire

Two weeks ago the Rapids went up 2 in the first 5 minutes and never let Chivas back into the game. This week we went up two between the 48th and 58th minute, then collapsed and let Chicago win the game.

The first half was completely forgettable by both teams (o cards, 0 corners, 0 subs, 0 shots on goal) so we'll jump straight to the second half. At halftime Palguta was pulled due to tightness in his calf and replaced by Ihemelu. 3 minutes later Jamie Smith took a long shot on goal from outside the box that Fire keeper Jon Busch was able to punch away, right to the feet of Oar Cummings. With Busch on his knees and a wide open net Cummings made no mistake and put the Rapids up 1-0. 10 minutes later Jamie Smith got an official assist as he brought the ball down the field, found Omar open at the top of the box and gave him the ball, Cummings took a couple of touches and lashed a shot with his weaker left foot into the upper 90 for a 2-0 lead.

And that's when it started to go wrong. After 14 minutes No-Neck Blanco brought the ball into the box where he was stood up by Gibbs while Kimura slid in to take the ball. one of them (I think it was Gibbs) got too much of Blanco's ankle and down he went, getting the PK call and then asking for, and getting, a card on Kimura. Blanco converted the penalty to cut the lead in half. Gary Smith immediately subbed Jamie Smith for Mehdi Ballouchy and 8 minutes later subbed Jacob Peterson for Greg Dalby. This made us more defensive at the cost of our width and ability to go forward. The Fire were ready to take advantage of the Rapids going into a shell.

In the 8th minute the Fire took advantage of a turnover up field with Harvey pushed forward to get in behind him. After forcing a bad pass away from goal Greg Dalby raced in to clear the ball and pushed it right to an unmarked Banner at the top of the box. Banner had plenty of time to set up the shot and level the score at 2. Not done yet the Rapids defense allowed the Fire not1, not 2, but 3 unmarked shots in stoppage time. The first two beat Pickens but were cleared off the line, but the third time was the charm letting the Fire steal 3 points from the jaws of defeat.

My key to the game was the midfield, especially the wing, play. Jamie Smith had a hand in both goals while Peterson was somewhat quiet and LaBrocca didn't do much of anything. Still the Rapids controlled the game for the first 15-20 minutes of the second half and it wasn't until the subs that we really lost control. Of course as soon as that happened we lost the game.

Other Observations:
  • With the two goals Cummings continues to lead the league in goals+assists by 2 over Seattle's Montero. Those are the only two players in the top 10 in both goals and assists
  • The Rapids are tied with DC and Columbus for the league lead in goals scored. When was the last time you could say that in the final third of a season, if ever?
  • Which means that the reason the Rapids are barely hanging on to a playoff spot is the defense. I'm sick and tired of watching stupid mistakes from Gibbs and Ihemelu cost us points. When healthy I want to see a back line of Kimura - Palguta - Baudet - Harvey, at least they won't be giving up goals because they lose focus
  • For a National Team defender Cory Gibbs can't organize a defense to save his life
  • Matt Pickens couldn't do much about any of the goals, he was left stranded by his defense
  • Poor subs by Gary Smith. He was too quick to defend a lead against a team that leads the league in late-game goals. Smith essentially stranded Casey and Cummings up top with no good way to get the ball
  • This loss really hurts our hopes of securing a playoff spot early. We still have a favorable schedule but now were solidly in a playoff race with Toronto, new England, and Seattle that will probably go down to the final couple of games
Player of the Game: Omar Cummings, duh

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