Friday, November 12, 2010

Rapids Clash With Earthquakes

Well here we are. The Rapids are hosting the Eastern Conference Final! Yeah, i didn't expect to be here either. San Jose comes to town tomorrow night with a trip to Toronto and MLS Cup 2010 on the line. Game time is 7:30pm at the Dick and the Class VI/Pid Army tailgate starts at 4:30pm. If you're a Rapids fan and you're in Colorado, be there.

These two teams have been pretty equally matched this season. Early in the year the Rapids went to the Bay Area and lost 1-0 on a goal from Chris Wondolowski that on replay was clearly offside and was missed by the refs. Mid-season the E-Quakes came to Denver and lost 1-0 when an Omar Cummings cross/shot was somehow turned into the SJ net by SJ keeper Jon Busch. San Jose and Colorado finished equal on points and equal on head-to-head, so the final standings (and it turned out the location of this game) game down to goal differential which Colorado won +12 to +1.

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 hamstring strain)

San Jose has 7 players questionable or worse, so the Rapids are better off from a depth perspective. I think the lineup is fairly obvious:

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

Yep, the same XI we've seen most of our late season run. The only change (barring unknown injury) i could possibly see is Wells Thompson for Jamie Smith to give Anthony Wallace defensive help on Chris Wondolowski. I think the best defense though is to stay on the attack which Jamie Smith is much better at.

Key To Look For: Keep the ball away from the Earthquakes outside players, particularly Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski. The E-Quakes got hot behind these two players, but outside of them their offense suffers. Wondo has 18 of San Jose's 34 goals this season, while Convey was the key to their victory in the series against New York. If the Rapids can deny them the ball the Earthquakes will struggle to score.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Omar Cummings and Jeff Larentowicz. It may take extra time to gt the winner, but I think the cold temperatures, altitude, and the C+C Music Factory up front give the Rapids the edge. Larentowicz is due to get one of his blasts on target and SJ's likely left back is somewhat inexperienced and I think Cummings can capitalize on that for a goal. That will be the difference.

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