Monday, November 8, 2010

Rapids Reach 3rd Conference Final in 6 Years

Quite a nail-biter on Saturday night as the Rapids lost the game, but won the series. This game was almost the reverse of the first leg in Colorado. Columbus was clearly the dominate team in the first half, having multiple opportunities to score but only putting one away to even the series. The goal came off a pinball series in the box when Colorado couldn't clear it.

The game came down to the second half and it, like the whole series, was very balanced. As the half went on the Rapids took more and more control and they needed it. In the 70th minute, on their first real good attack of the half, the Crew scored to go up 2-1 in the series. Robbie Rogers got free on a counter and played through a weak Anthony Wallace foul to slot one past Matt Pickens. Things looked bleak to Gary smith inserted Claudio Lopez and Mac Kandji and the game changed. While neither player made a huge impact, the change to a 3-5-2 with more mobile players put the Crew defense on their heels. Finally in the 84th minute Colorado broke through. like so many goals the last two seasons it was the C+C Music Factory that did it. Kandji intercepted a ball in midfield and immediately sprung Cummings down the right side. As we've seen plenty of times Omar served a cross along the ground to an onrushing Casey who put it past the Crew keeper to level the series at 2-2.

At this point the Rapids had the greater control but neither team could break through in regulation or overtime so we were off to PK's. This being the 3rd time in 6 years the Rapids have taken a first-round playoff series to PK's on the road, and all 3 had the same result. After Casey, Kandji (barely), Larentowicz, and Lopez were matched kick for kick by Columbus Jamie Smith stepped up and put the 5th kick home, and watched the Crew's Brian Carroll put their 5th kick over the crossbar. Victory to the Rapids!

My key to the game was keeping the pressure on the Columbuss midfield which we did not do. Pablo had a very poor game and until late in the match Columbus was able to drive through the center of the pitch. Lucky for us they weren't able to do more with it.

Other Observations:
  • Pablo needed to shut up and play. He was very lucky not to pick up another yellow for dissent.
  • Meanwhile in all honesty Brian Mullan should have been sent off with two yellow card fouls in 2 minutes, but the ref only carded him for the first.
  • Ugly refereeing on both sides. ou could make a case that both teams should have been down to 10.
  • Anthony Wallace, if you're going to foul to prevent a goal, make sure you take the guy down. His half-hearted attempt to foul rogers didn't accomplish anything.
  • Pickens can't really be blamed for either goal, and he came up with some big saves.
  • If the Conference Final comes down to PK's or, should we be so lucky, MLS Cup, don't let Kandji take one. His was weak and should have been saved.
  • Haha, we're still playing and FSL is out.
  • One more game at the Dick. Everyone better be there!
Player of the Game: Conor Casey. Yeah, I know, easy pick. But he did save the season for us.