Thursday, September 17, 2009

Play to Win

A very unusual Friday night game this week as the Rapids find out if they know the way to San Jose. This is the first matchup between the teams this week, with a second coming up in less than a week as both teams will head back to Denver after the match. The Earthquakes are pretty much out of the playoff race already and are looking ahead to 2010 so these are 3 points the Rapids could pick up on the road. Game time is at 9pm tomorrow night and the supporters are meeting at the British Bulldog in downtown Denver.

Official Injury Report:
OUT: MF Colin Clark (L ACL tear); GK Matt Pickens (R knee sprain); MF Jamie Smith (L knee strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Cory Gibbs (R thigh strain); PROBABLE: DF Scott Palguta (R calf strain)

Official Discipline Report:
SUSPENDED: Pablo Mastroeni (3rd of 3 games)
TWO CAUTIONS FROM SUSPENSION: Mehdi Ballouchy, Omar Cummings, Cory Gibbs, Scott Palguta

San Jose will be missing Huckerby, who's current injury has put him on the verge of retirement. Alvarez and Convey are also questionable for the game. Corrales and Pitchkolan will be looking to avoid picking up a yellow card that will lead to them being suspended for the return fixture in Denver. My best guess at the Rapids lineup:

Kimura - Baudet - Moor - Harvey
Peterson - Ballouchy - Noonan
Cummings - Casey

Things aren't quite as bad as they were last week. We get Ballouchy back from his travel issues and if necessary, Palguta is probably ready to start. Our midfield is still stretched thin due to Pablo's suspension but luckily this is the last game on the bench for him. Smith has talked about wanting to stick with mostly the same lineup so I'm going to guess that Dalby sits, allowing LaBrocca to move back to d-mid for Ballouchy's return.

Key To Look For:
Midfield control. We saw last week that relying on Casey and Cummings to generate the chances without midfield support didn't work well. San Jose is a weaker team than Toronto and, as surprised as I am to say it, the return of Ballouchy strengthens the center of the pitch for us. We need that group to step up and feed Casey and Cummings. This will force the San Jose defense to step up earlier and free up space behind them for Omar to run into and Conor to to hold the ball in.

Prediction: 2-1 win, Conor Casey with a brace of goals. The Earthquakes are beatable even at home and the Rapids are due for a solid road performance. I think the speed of Kimura, Peterson, and Cummings will keep the San Jose defense off balance enough for Casey to build on his lead in the Golden Boot standings.


Rapido said...

Noonan? I don't think so. Palguta on the bench? No way. I would hope that Palguta would start in the back and Kimura push up to outside mid on one side with Jake on the other. We need our best XI to start this game and Noonan ain't one of them.

Jason Maxwell said...

I'm not saying that's who I'd start, just who I expect to start. ;)

Nick Thomas said...

I think Noonan will drop to the bench as a price for a poor performance last week. Dalby to start with Ballouchy in center mid. Palguta and Harvey to work on the left side together. That's my guess, somewhat informed, but still a guess.

Jason Maxwell said...

Well unfortunately our captain was a moron and left us with the choice of two evils in midfield, Dalby or Noonan. nether played well last week and with LaBrocca as a natural fit in Dalby's position Noonan seems the better choice IMO.

I'd rather see Moor sit for Palguta if Smith feels the need to get him int he starting XI. Harvey has been solid all year on the left, why change a good thing?