Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rapids Leave Reds Seeing Red

The wounded Rapids, missing 4 starters, got a boost by the unexpected availability of Conor Casey last night. They took advantage of his league-leading 12th goal to get a 1-0 win over the visitors from Canada (eh!) and move up the ladder in their pursuit of a playoff spot.

The first half was made up of a good deal of bad soccer, but mainly controlled by the Rapids. The two incidents of note were a yellow card and a PK. In the 21st minute Toronto's defensive midfielder Amadou Sanyang clattered into Mehdi Ballouchy and picked up a yellow card for it. The card was a bit soft, but I think there was a bit of persistent infringement that influenced the card. A few minutes later Ballouchy sent a corner kick into the box that Baudet headed to goal. The shot deflected off of Gomez's upraised arm and referee Terry vaughn pointed to the spot. Solid call as Gomez's arm was raised away from his body and blocked a legitimate shot on goal, but there was no intent so TFC got a bit unlucky. Casey stepped up...and missed his second of three PK's this season. This one he shot too high and pined it off the crossbar. Perhaps somebody else should take PK's at this point (Ballouchy is 1-1 while Cummings is 0-1 hitting the post)?

The second half was a bit more eventful than the first, but it was still plenty of bad soccer. Neither team could really get into rhythm and it was choppy midfield play that stopped attacks from each side. 6 minutes in Cummings fed Peterson at the top of the box. Peterson swung a cross in and Casey found himself wide open between two Toronto defenders and rose up to head the ball into the back of the net for his league-leading 12th goal of the season. Toronto made some offensive substitutions and they were able to control the game in fits and spurts but never enough to challenge Matt Pickens. In the 76th minute Sanyang fouled Ballouchy again and it was one foul too man. Vaughn showed him his second yellow and suddenly Toronto was down a goal and a man.

The last major incident of the game occurred in the 85th minute when Cummings was running onto a long ball from the back. He only had to beat Toronto defender Adrian Serioux to be 1v1 with the keeper. Serioux saw Cummings coming after the high ball and rather than play the ball he sized Cummings up and took him out with an elbow and shoulder charge. Both serious foul play and denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Vaughn wasted no time in showing the red card and the game was essentially over. There are some fans trying to justify Serious play as just a shoulder charge while going for the ball but if you watch the replay on a viewer that's big enough to see the details you can tell that Serioux never even looked at the ball and was gunning for Cummings the whole time.

My key to the game was how well the 5 new starters integrated with the rest of the team. With Casey's unexpected apperance it was only 4 new starters, Ballouchy, Moor, Baudet, and Noonan. Baudet and Moor were rock solid at center back, Toronto never had a decent attempt at goal. Moor will be fighting with Palguta for the starting spot while Baudet appears to be supplanting Gibbs as the starter. Ballouchy was his normal self, 1-2 good balls, 3-4 bad balls, and the rest just eh. Noonan was pretty invisible for a center mid, and that trade is looking worse by the game.

Other Observations:
  • I predicted ugly soccer with a 1-0 win off a goal by Cummings. That was before I knew Casey was going to play though so I'd say that was a fairly accurate prediction
  • Real solid play by the back line. Kimura - Moor - Baudet - Harvey might be our best 4
  • If Gary Smith thinks Palguta deserves to start we might want to look at shifting Kimura to right mid and pushing Moor to right back. Kimura's speed and tenacity would serve us well in midfield
  • Casey needs 3 goals to set the team record for goals and Cummings need 3 goals or assists to set the team record for combined goals & assists
  • We need a center/attacking mid. LaBrocca, Noonan, and Ballouchy can all manage the position without being a disaster but none of them can change a game from there
  • At least we got through this game without any additional injuries. Bravo and Gary Smith were saying pregame that Gibbs is 2-3 weeks out and Jamie Smith is probably done until the playoffs. Palguta should be available next week at least
  • Toronto will be down Serioux and Sanyang next week which should improve our chances in the return fixture
Player of the Game: Nick LaBrocca. There are a couple of candidates for the award this time but LaBrocca really stepped up and filled Pablo's shoes. He broke up every attack that came through the midfield and started a number of good chances for the Rapids. We still need to figure out who can sit in front of him while Pablo is suspended, but we seem to be OK at d-mid.

No comments: