Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Equaliser

The Rapids made their only appearance on ESPN this year on Friday night, and it will be quickly forgotten by most neutral observers. A pretty lousy game that is pretty forgettable even for fans. The game didn't start well, with San Jose getting an open look at Burpo's goal, only to put the shot off the far post. It only took another 5 minutes to beat Burpo though as Ryan Johnson was left unmarked on a long-throw in and headed the ball past Burpo, who couldn't decide if he should stay on his line or come out. That was the only interesting thing of note in a bad first half.

The second half went a bit better for the Rapids as they tried to take control of the game. They had 2-3 good chances on goal but former Rapids keeper Joe Cannon was up to the challenge, coming up with 2 big saves to deny Colorado. The Rapids had one last chance off a Ballouchy corner kick at the end of regulation that Pat Noonan corralled at the top of the box and lobbed back in. Baudet went up and deflected the ball for Moor to run onto. San Jose's defense hauled Moore down int he box with 7 seconds left in stoppage time and the referee pointed to the spot. Conor Casey stepped up and sent it right down the middle. Joe Cannon got a hand on it but couldn't stop it and the Rapids escaped from the Bay Area with a vital point.

My key to the game was midfield control and we didn't have it. Peterson and Ballouchy contributed almost nothing to the game. LaBrocca filled in well for Pablo at d-mid. Kosuke Kimura, pressed into service at right midfield instead of right back, had a very good game but it wasn't enough to give Casey and Cummings the chances they needed. Luckily Mastroeni is back next game so we'll be able to get a more normal midfield setup for the stretch run.

Other Observations:
  • The field was in lousy shape, and we had no ability to adjust to it. It became long ball over the top because we couldn't figure out how to play it on the ground
  • The ref was erratic, another thing we couldn't adjust to. That said, the ref didn't get enough wrong to effect the outcome of the game
  • The San Jose fans will disagree with that last statement. There's been lots of discussion about how a Rapid player was offside on the last corner kick or how the foul wasn't "severe" enough to justify a PK call in the last minute. They're wrong. There's no angle on the ESPN broadcast that you can conclusively tell that anyone is offside, and if its a foul its a PK. It doesn't matter when in the game it is.
  • Our defense has been unsettled the last couple of games. I expect that's because we've used 5-6 different players int he back line and everyone is still figuring out how to adjust. Still, any more unmarked goals are going to kill our playoff hopes. Baudet needs to get things straightened out instead of trying to cover when people miss their assignments
  • Poor decision making, or lack thereof, on the goal by Burpo. He needs to commit to coming out or stay on his line, His halfway decision left him with no chance to stop the shot
  • Ballouchy has the decision-making ability of Congress. He takes to long to make a decision and when he makes it, its the wrong one
  • Casey got through the game without a card, which means he gets one taken off for good behavior. That leaves him 2 away from suspension instead of 1
  • Can we have somebody other than Casey take the PK's? This one was almost saved and he was unsuccessful at 2 of his prior 3 attempts this year. I prefer my PK's to be a little more of a sure thing
  • Palguta was apparently fighting the flu all week and could only make it 60 minutes or so. I realize we were short handed, but I would almost have rather seen Kimura moved to the backline and Noonan start then start a less than 100% player
Record-Tying Performance: With the successful PK Conor Casey ties John Spencer's team record for most goals in a season with 14. He has 5 games to get one more goal to set a new record. I'm betting he gets it.

Player of the Game: Kosuke Kimura. I had a hard time choosing between him and LaBrocca, but Kimura had a good game playing out of position so I gave him the nod.

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