Friday, October 29, 2010

Rapids Sink The Crew

The Rapids, in front of one of the best crowds of the year (in support if not in numbers), picked up a vital win in the two-legged series with the Crew last night. Colorado was clearly the best team on the pitch and were unlucky to only win 1-0. The Rapids completely dominated play in the first 45 minutes and for all but the last 15 minutes of the second half.

The game started well as after a few minutes of nervous play the Colorado slowly started taking control. It was obvious early that Columbus had no answer for Omar Cummings, and he took full advantage, slicing up the defense on run after run. Finally in the 23rd minute the Rapids broke through. Cummings took the ball down the right side and crossed it through the box at the 6-yard line. Casey barely touched it as he dummied for the ball and let it go, and Mastroeni crashed the far post to put it in the roof of the net for his first ever playoff goal.

The Rapids continued to pepper the Columbus goal with shots, really putting them on their heels. The half came too soon, if Colorado had another 5 minutes they almost certainly would have broke through. In the second half it was more of the same early as the Rapids upped the pressure, but couldn't get thee second goal. Surprise starter Wells Thompson was pulled for Mac Kandji int he 75th minute, which changed the nature of the game. The switch from the 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 opened up more space for Columbus, and Kandji's less than stellar defensive play led to multiple dangerous free kicks for the Crew. The last 15 minutes the Rapids spent more time defending their one goal lead than trying to double it. in the end though Colorado takes a 1-0 lead into the second half of this series.

My key to the game was keeping the pressure on the Columbuss midfield, which we did for 75 minutes, along with numerous unforced errors for the Crew. This allowed our wingbacks to push up and add to the attack.

Other Observations:
  • What shouldn't get lost in the disappointment over only getting one goal is that this was our first shut out in 7 games.
  • Cummings was money all night. The only way they stopped him was to prevent him from getting the ball because as soon as he did he was behind the defense.
  • Kimura did not have a great game, but did enough to frustrate the weak Crew offensive attack.
  • I thought the Thompson-Kandji sub was a great move and should of happened 10 minutes earlier. Given what happened after Kandji got in the game though, its good that Smith is the coach and I'm the blogger!
  • Wells Thompson's corners leave much to be desired.
  • Both Casey and Pablo beat Crew players multiple times, which should be embarrassing for the Crew players.
  • Great crowd last night. It was only 12K but, other than last week's sellout rivalry game, the best crowd we've had in probably two years. Everybody was into the game and it followed through the whole stadium. Even the cheesy "Scarves Up" as the players entered the field looked great last night because it seemed like everybody had a scarf and was holding it up (the cold weather helped).
Player of the Game: Pablo Mastroeni. I went back and forth on this one as Omar Cummings had a great night. I finally gave the edge to Pablo for the goal and his ability to beat Crew players with the ball. Turns out he's an offensive juggernaut, who knew? Matt Pickens made a late claim for the award as well in keeping the Crew off the board.

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