Friday, November 19, 2010

MLS Cup 2010 Starring Your Colorado Rapids!

Tomorrow is the game that, 3 months ago, no Colorado fan who was honest with themselves thought we would be playing in. MLS Cup 2010. The Rapids have a shot at their first major trophy, but to do it they have to go through their old foe FC Dallas. Obviously there's nothing more to play for after this game, one way or the other the season is over.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention the game is in Toronto at 6:30pm MST. The match is televised on ESPN. Supporters groups will be meeting in many places, but I'll be joining Class VI, Pid Army, and an expected 200-300 fans at the Celtic Tavern in LoDo. There should be a small but vocal contingent of fans in Toronto to support the team as well.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Ciaran O'Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear)
PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Jamie Smith (L calf tightness)

Dallas also has 4 players questionable or worse, so the depth between the teams is about equal. I think the lineup is fairly obvious but we've been hearing things this week that Gary Smith may make some changes to deal with Dallas. My best guess to start:

Kimura - Wynne - Moor - Wallace
Mullan - Larentowicz - Pablo - Smith
Cummings - Casey

If Smith can't go, Thompson should go into his slot. Gary Smith has talked about possibly switching to a -5-1 to match Dallas 5-man midfield. To me, this would be a mistake. The Rapids played a 4-5-1 in the middle of the season and while we kept possession we couldn't score, and Omar Cummings was wasted on the right. He's also mentioned returning Baudet to the starting XI and moving Moor outside to Wallace's spot. The back 4 has done a pretty good job since Baudet went down injured and I'm hesitant to suddenly change it up in the final.

Key To Look For: I think there are actually two keys to this one. The first is the midfield, specifically Dallas' David Ferreria, who was just named league MVP today. He's the engine that makes Dallas go, and the Rapids will need to shut him down. Gary Smith has hinted he might just try to play 10 on 10 by assigning one player, probably Larentowicz, to stick to Ferreria all night and take him out of the game.

The second key is the goalkeepers. Matt Pickens is the only goalkeeper to record two shutouts this post-season, while Kevin Hartman has been on fire for the last couple months and almost single-handledly won their game against LA for them. It could be very difficult for the Rapids to get more than one past Hartman, so Pickens will have to put in a top performance.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, Rapids win in PKs. Goal by Conor Casey. This has been, by far, the hardest game to predict this season. My heart wants to say a Rapids win, while my head wonders if we can match their quality. The Rapids can not get into a shootout in this one, Dallas has the players to win going away. Instead they need to slow the game down and keep it low scoring. I don't think we can expect to get more than one past Hartman, and I don't see us getting a shutout. If we can get it to PKs though I think we're mentally tougher than Dallas and can win the tiebreaker.


Jayd8888 said...

For me it has everything to do with Dallas. Ferreria getting free or having to take one our or players out to mark him.

AND Hartman. He could become human, he more likely could stay a level above.

If Ferreria doesnt ever get free and Hartman is human, then I could see a 2-2 or 2-1 victory. Otherwise 2-0 1-0 Dallas victories could be in store. I will give 1-1 to the Rapdis just like I do 2-2.

Of course having said all this.. Wallace and Mullan are going to take over the game for a stunning 3-0 win.

Still Stacy said...

Just want to say thanks for the blog. I get more information from you than I do the Rapids site.