Monday, April 26, 2010

Mehdi, Pablo Score; Hell Freezes Over

Yeah, you read that right. Both Mehdi Ballouchy and Pablo Mastroeni scored for the Rapids on Saturday. No, you haven't entered the alternate Star Trek universe with evil Spock (too geeky?).

Saturday night in Foxboro the Rapids played their best game of the season, and probably one of their top 5 games in the last couple of seasons. From the opening whistle the team pressed and moved the ball, never taking their foot off the pedal. The scoring started early as Ballouchy was allowed a free run at goal, and teed up a shot from 20 yards out that beat former Rapids-keeper Preston Burpo. The lead didn't last long as 7 minutes later the Rapids met their kryptonite, set pieces, and the Revolution made it pay off with a Goal of the Week strike from the free kick. I think the new ball fooled Pickens a bit as he appeared to ease up just a touch thinking the ball was going over the bar before it dipped in for a goal. Still it would have taken an All-Star effort to stop the shot. The Rapids had multiple good chances int eh half. Former New England player Jeff Larentowicz hit the post on a long shot, and Omar Cummings used some fancy footwork to control the ball around 3 defenders and lift it up for Ballouchy to get off a great bicycle kick, only for it to bounce off the post, off of Burpo, and fall right between Casey and Burpo with not enough space for Conor to get it back over Preston.

Many Rapids fans probably expected the Rapids to play their normal road game and preserve the draw int he second half. Early on int he half it looked a bit like that, but as time went on the Rapids took more and more control of he game. It paid off as Cummings found Casey at the top of the area. Conor took the ball with his back to goal, held off 1, then 3, then had 2 more defenders coming in when he played the ball back to an onrushing Pablo who slammed it into the back of the net from 30 yards for only the 5th goal of his career. After that the Rapids had a couple of scares but for the most part they kept the Revs contained and took a deserved 3 points on the road.

My key to the game was midfield dominance, and as we saw, when we have it we're a pretty good team. Colorado went to a 5 man midfield and it seemed to help. With a 3rd midfielder centrally (Ballouchy) we were able to control the ball and link between the defense and the attack better.

Other Observations:
  • The Rapids have the best offense in the league. Their 8 goals are 1 more than 5 teams.
  • Colorado has yet to be scored on from the run of play. The 5 goals they've given up have been from corners, free kicks, or the penalty spot.
  • 10 points in our first 5 games is our best start ever. We've already won 2 road games, which equals the number we won all of last season.
  • In the off-season the Rapids picked up two players, Wynne and Thompson, that fans of their former teams were happy to let go. They warned Rapids fans that we would be disappointed. Well knock on wood but so far they;re looking pretty good.
  • This may sound repetitive, but Drew Moor looked great again. I liked the Ihemelu-Moor swap when we made it last season, but its looking really good now.
  • Earls got more involved in the offense again this week. He was almost too involved at times, he needs to figure out the balance a bit, but still a good sign.
  • This might have been Ballouchy's best game as a Rapid. If he could play like this every game I wouldn't roll my eyes when I see him in the starting XI.
  • Casey had his best game of the season. Maybe he's starting to feel the pressure to claim a WC spot.
  • Its easy to say "good call" after we win, but leaving Clark on the bench most of the game instead of playing his surgically-repaired knee on the turf was a good move I think.
  • I've mentioned the idea of starting Cummings on the right in the past. Its only one game so its too early to tell, but so far it looks good.
Player of the Game: Pablo Mastroeni. He gets the game winning goal on the road for only his 5th goal of his career? How do you not give it to him?

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