Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stop Me If You've Heard This Before...

Playing the worst team in MLS Colorado continued their lack-luster play, and they got burned by it. What should have been an easy won resulted in the Rapids 5th draw in a row and 6th draw in 7 games.

This game was much like last week's home game against Toronto. Lots of possession by the Rapids in the defensive third but no ability to capitalize on it. Casey took advantage of a half-hearted backpass to round the keeper and score from almost an impossible angle. KC's Smith took advantage of a Wells Thompson flailing mistake and a Kimura slip to knock a golazo past Pickens into the upper corner to level the score late.

My key to the game was just winning. Nope.

Other Observations:
  • Good to see Casey finally get on the scoreboard, and on such a tough goal. Despite the defender knocking it in, it would have gone in without the assistance.
  • Wells Thompson, ugh. Generally bad and on the KC goal he performed a whirling dervish spin move and managed to completely miss the ball, leaving Kimura stranded. Bad luck for Koz to slip at that moment.
  • Koz generally had a bad night though. He was regularly beat and his passes weren't on target.
  • Larentowicz had a 1v1 with the keeper early int he second half that should have ended the game. Instead he sent it high over the bar. A team having as much difficulty scoring as we are can't afford to miss chances like that.
  • Ross LaBauex looked good for a young guy getting only his second career start. If he can I still like the looks of LaBauex. I thought he had a solid, if unspectacular, night.
  • Nyassi coming off at half is not what the team needed. He's apparently still going to play for Gambia so I assume ti wasn't injury related. Not a strong sub.
  • I hate to kick a guy while he's down, but Nane's 5 minutes prior to being injured were horrible. Bad touches and almost no movement.
  • It was good to see Folan able to play. I only wish he had been able to play better, he didn't show much of anything in his 20 minutes.
  • 7 straight games without a loss is nice, but this team is barely treading water. Part of it is the injury situation but part of it are players who just aren't getting the job done.
Player of the Game: Marvell Wynne. He broke up a number of dangerous attacks including one in the second half that I was sure was going to be a PK, but on review was a perfectly timed clean tackle. Unfortunately he re-aggravated his hamstring late in the game and is back on IR.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Colorado Gets Its First Look At The New Kansas City

Sporting KC (aka the SporKCs) makes its first trip to Denver since they renamed themselves from the Kansas City Wizards (a much better name IMO). They also took our kits as they are now the light blue team in the league while we went to the white road kits. The SporKCs are in the 9th game of a 10 game road trip before their new stadium opens next month, and they have been spectacularly unsuccessful on the road with only 1 win and 1 draw so far.

Game time tomorrow is at 7pm, but the party starts much earlier. At noon the Pid Army and Class VI are hosting a watch party for the Champions League Final at the Celtic Tavern downtown. They'll be running two free shuttles at 3:30 and 4 from the party out to the Dick for the tailgate which, in honor of our opposition, is a Kansas City BBQ theme. After the game they'll run two shuttles back to the Celtic. A whole day of soccer partying is in store!

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
DOUBTFUL: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain)
PROBABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (4 games)
SUSPENDED AFTER 2 MORE CAUTIONS: FW Conor Casey; DF Drew Moor; DF Marvell Wynne

No change to the official injury report but there are rumors that Folan and/or Cummings might be able to make an appearance. KC only has one player out due to injury, but they have 4 others absent with their National Teams. Its hard to tell what Smith might do with our lineup, but here's my guess:

Kimura - Wynne - Marshall - Moor
LaBauex- Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Nyassi
Casey - Akpan

LaBauex and Akpan had good games on Wednesday and I think they get the nod to fill in for some of our missing guys. I don't think we'll see the 4-5-1 again, we should win this game despite the injuries and I expect to see our normal 4-4-2 because of it.

Key To Look For: Just win baby. Toronto should have been an easy win, but KC should be even easier. There's no reason, even with our injuries, that we should give the worst team in MLS a shot in this game.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Casey and Nyassi. Nobody has given up more goals in the league than KC and they're in the bottom half in offense as well. They played a big USOC qualifier on Wednesday in KC so both teams had to travel after a game to Denver so they should be equally tired. With the home field advantage and the altitude Colorado should win this one.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

6 Minute Shootout In NY Leads To Draw

The Rapids started the game with only 2 offensive players hoping just to battle to a low-scoring draw. That worked for about 25 minutes. Between minute 27 and 33 all hell broke loose, then they went back to the plan for the remaining 57 minutes of the game. In the end they got the draw they wanted, but it was a much higher scoring 2-2 draw than what they expected.

In the 27th minute Akpan was knocked down outside the box and fell into the box. The referee missed the call and awarded a PK, which Larentowicz took and had saved, only to have the rebound come straight to him so he could finish it off. NY took the ball right back down the field though and sliced the Rapids defense open so an unmarked(!) Henry could level the score.

After a couple of minutes to catch our breaths it happened again. Henry took down Thompson outside the box getting a card and a free kick for the Rapids. They rolled the ball outside to Ginger Ninja who blasted it through the wall to re-take the lead. Again it only lasted a minute though as NY came right back down the field. This time Rogers got behind the defense and chipped the ball over an on-rushing Pickens to finish the night's scoring.

Both teams had decent chances after that, though the Rapids actually had the better shots. In 2nd half stoppage time both Casey and Amarikwa had a chance to beat the NY keeper who had come out but they couldn't finish the job. It was 3 points we could have had, but nobody should complain about getting a point given our injury situation.

My key to the game was attacking pressure to prevent NY from opening up a shooting gallery. The Rapids actually did a better job of this than I expected. Early in both halves NY was pushing hard but Colorado managed to re-balance the field with some good attacks.

Other Observations:
  • Interesting lineup decision by Smith to rest Casey and go with a 4-5-1. It seemed to work, though its not something I want to go back to when two top forwards are healthy.
  • On goal 1 Wynne, Kimura, and Pablo lost their men. On goal 2 Drew Moor found out that Rogers was faster than he realized.
  • Adventures In Goalkeeping last night, and Bouna didn't play for NY. Pickens made a lot of great saves, but he was forced into some of those due to bad positioning or decision making. The second rule of goalkeeping (after Don't Get Beat Near Post) is If You Come Out, You Must Get The Ball, which he failed to do on the second goal.
  • Nyassi is a case of "you take the good with the bad". He had a "shot" that barely went out for a corner instead of a throw-in. 2 minutes later he took another shot from almost the same spot that slammed off the crossbar. He continued that pattern of lousy and great balls all night. Still he'll be missed for the Philly and possibly the Portland game when he goes to Gabon to play for Gambia.
  • Ross LaBauex looked good for a young guy getting only his second career start. If he can keep that up he'll replace Thompson.
  • I hate to say this, but Thompson has become the new Ballouchy. He just kills any ball movement that goes through him.
  • Akpan is starting to take a commanding lead in the battle with Amarikwa. He's still 4th choice behind C+C Goal Factory and Folan though (and possibly 5th once Kandji comes back).
  • Nane had possibly the best pass we've seen all season late int he game. A perfectly weighted through ball that put Casey in 1v1 with the GK and only a great save and a further clearance from the NY defense kept Colorado form scoring.
  • You could see the level of play from front rise when Casey came in. He's clearly missed.
  • 6 straight without a loss! Too bad 5 of them have been draws.
  • Draws are great on the road, we need to win at home, starting this weekend against the SporKC's.
Player of the Game: Jeff Larentowicz. Yes he got a goal off a PK that shouldn't have been given, but he kept his head on the save and calmly tapped the ball back in, then followed it up woith a great free kick goal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rapids Attempt To Raid New York For A Point

On May 25th, 1778 British-led forces raided the Rhode Island towns of Bristol and Warren. They took prisoners and supplies before withdrawing. On May 25th, 2011 the British-led Rapids will try to raid another Northeast town, this time Harrison, NJ. They hope to take points and confidence with them when they withdraw.

It won't be easy though, as the injury report keeps growing and the amount of rest keeps lessening. Game time tomorrow is 6pm MDT and the game will be on Altitude. A small group of supporters will be watching the game at the Streets of London.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
DOUBTFUL: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain)
PROBABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (5 games)
SUSPENDED AFTER 2 MORE CAUTIONS: FW Conor Casey; DF Drew Moor; DF Marvell Wynne

Jamie Smith's addition tot he injury report is not what we needed right now. That's now 7 forwards or midfielders that are either on the injury report or suspended. NY only has 3 players questionable or worse, but one is Rafa Marquez so that's a bit of a help. My guess at an ugly lineup:

Wynne- Moor- Marshall - Wallace
Kimura- Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Nyassi
Casey - Amarikwa

I think Smith will stick with the lineup he used on Sunday, with Nyassi filling in for the injured Jamie Smith. I think Akpan is a better start based on Amarikwa's play, but Smith seems to like Quincy. Its almost a guarantee that the first two subs will be Akpan and Thompson.

Key To Look For: Attacking pressure. Can the Rapids mount any sort of an attack or will it be a shooting gallery for NY all night? The only chance Colorado has to get any points out of this game is to keep possession and keep NY at least somewhat concerned about defending.

Prediction: 1-0 loss. Both teams are coming off weekend games with another game next weekend so neither team will be able to go 100%. The fact that we'll be lucky to have more than 3 attacking players on the pitch at once leads me to believe we'll get shutout again. NY is much better than Toronto, so I expect our defense will crack at least once.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Visit Of Former Rapids Brings Former Rapids Play

Toronto came to town with 4 former Rapids on their roster, 2 of them from the Clavijo era. As part of their return to Denver they returned Clavijo-era ball to the Rapids. An ugly 0-0 game then played out.

The closest the Rapids got to a goal was right before halftime when Quincy Amarikwa was tripped up in the corner of the box, but didn't get the PK call. In their continuing attempt to turn fans off of watching Rapids games, Altitude was in a replay at the time and apparently didn't catch the incident so I have no idea how valid or not the call would have been. The closest Toronto got was off a Rapids corner kick that they raced up field with, hitting the crossbar over Pickens. Sadly those were the extent of highlights in this game.

My key to the game was taking control of the game early. Needless to say, that didn't happen and not surprisingly Toronto got a point.

Other Observations:
  • How unimpressed must Smith be with Nyassi and Thompson to choose to start Kimura out of position at right mid instead of one of them?
  • The defensive line (and Pickens, see below) were solid this game. The 6 players in front of them? Crap.
  • This was 2007 era Clavijo-ball. Kick it long, hope somebody runs onto it for a cross, repeat.
  • Anytime we did get the ball in or around the box, nobody could complete a pass. There were easily half a dozen decent chances if the pass was actually put where the oncoming player could get it.
  • The best shot we got all night was Anthony Wallace from 25 yards out, and that didn't even force a save.
  • I'm assuming Smith and Casey were subbed out to rest them in a week where we have 3 games. If it was due to injury or strategy we're in trouble.
  • Amarikwa couldn't find a chance he couldn't destroy last night.
  • Thompson has regressed this season. Putting him in a game where we aren't leading is tantamount to raising the white flag of surrender.
  • We ended the game with a midfield of Kimura, Mastroeni, Larentowicz, and Thompson. I realize that's somewhat due to injuries and suspensions but there's no way we're scoring off of anything but a set piece with that midfield.
  • Marshall was honored before the game for becoming the 13th player in league history to have 300 appearances (his appearance in New England two weeks ago was #300). His first appearance was also as a Rapid.
  • He followed that up today with a call-up to the Jamaican Gold Cup squad. He'll leave after Saturday's game with KC.
Player of the Game: Matt Pickens. He had one big save and one save that may or may not have been necessary, but better safe than sorry. Honorable mention to Marvell Wynne who played lock-down defense on Newcomer of the Year Candidate Plata.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Toronto Rapids In Town

OK, computer problems are fixed and I'm (pretty much) healthy again so back to our regularly scheduled blogging. On Sunday Toronto FC is in town along with 4 former Rapids (most on one team in the league). Dan Gargan, Ty Harden, Jacob Peterson, and Adrian "Dalek" Cann will have their sights back on Denver for this weekend's game. An unusual Sunday evening start
for this one at 5pm out at the Dick.

The tailgates are changing ever so slightly starting with this game. Pid Army has taken over responsibility for the kegs while Class VI will still provide the hot dogs and sodas. Because of that the drinking part of the tailgates will now start 3 hours before game time (so 2pm on Sunday) while the eating part will still start 2 hours before kickoff (3pm on Sunday).

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
DOUBTFUL: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain)
PROBABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (6 games)

Slowly but surely the Rapids are getting healthy. Still far too many forwards on that injury list though with 5 of the 6 strikers still appearing. Toronto has 7 players listed as questionable or worse, including Jacob Peterson who's out. Their DP, Julian DeGuzman, is suspended due to yellow card accumulation as well. My shot at the starting XI:

Kimura - Wynne - Marshall - Moor
Nyassi - Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Smith
Casey - Akpan

Since Casey got 30 minutes a week ago I'm assuming he should be in good enough shape to start at home. Akpan has looked good, so I'm guessing he'll get the nod over the nicked up Amarikwa, but that could go either way. The hardest call is the right back position. Nyassi hasn't shown that he can be the starter, but Thompson has been awful so I think Sanna gets another chance..

Key To Look For: Taking control of the game early. Toronto played in the Canadian Championship in Vancouver on Wednesday and will play Vancouver again in Toronto next Wednesday. They're banged up and their DP is suspended. There's no reason Toronto should have a shot in this game and the Rapids can't allow them to hang around in a 0-0 or 1-1 game. Colorado needs to control this game from the start and remove any hope TFC has.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals from Casey and Smith. The Rapids injury problems up front will keep them from truly dominating this game the way they should, but they'll control the game and win comfortably. Casey is healthy enough to find the back of the net again and Smith continues his offensive MVP performance this season with a goal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Game Review & CONCACAF Draw

Sorry for the lack of posts after Saturday's 1-1 draw. I've had computer problems and been sick. My computer issues still aren't solved so this is going to be a quick combined post.

First Saturday's game. A just result arrived at in an unjust way. A great free kick from Jamie Smith led to Drew Moor's first goal of the season. Then a Jeff Larentowicz take-down in the box did not get DC the PK call they deserved. 5 or so minutes later a foul against Kimura in the box was called on him, giving DC a bogus PK. In the end DC earned a PK and got a PK, but not in the way it should have happened.

Many people have commented that Drew Moor should have been sent off late int he first half due to being the last defender and taking down Dax McCarty who was behind him and heading towards goal. As Balboa attempted to explain after halftime, "last defender" doesn't appear anywhere in the rules and in fact the USSF years ago issued further explanation for how to determine a red card on a Denial of Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO). Essentially the ref has to take into account if there were other defenders able to make a play, if the play was going right at goal, and how far the player was from the ball and the goal. Since this foul took place just over the midfield stripe and the ball was a ways in front of McCarty with two other defenders pretty much even with him, the ref can make the judgement that there was not an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and issue a yellow card, which is what he did.

Player of the Game: Drew Moor. Scored the goal, made a crucial interception (see above) and avoided the red card, and prevented dangerous attacks from the left side all night.

CONCACAF Champion's League Draw,
The draw for the 2011/2012 CONCACAF Champion's League was held today, which included the Rapids. The Rapids were the top team in Group B, due to their MLS Cup victory. The other 3 teams drawn into their group are:

Real Espana - Honduran Apatura winner
Santos - Mexican Apatura runner-up OR Olimpia - Honduran Apatura & Clasura runner up*
Isidro Metapan - El Salvadoran Apaturan winner OR Caribbean Football Union Club Championship winner **

* - Honduras was given an extra spot after Belize did not meet stadium requirements for their champion. As the runner-up in both seasons Olimpia got the spot.
** - The final rounds of the CFU Club Championship are next week. The teams remaining are the Puerto Rico Islanders, Alpha United (Guyana), Defence Force (Trinidad & Tobago), and Tempete (Haiti).

The favorites in the CFU have to be Puerto Rico, as the defending champs, and Defence Force. The two teams won their 2-leg series in the last round by a combined score of 15-1, while the other two won their series by a combined score of 4-3 and Tempete had to go to PK's. Trinidad & Tobago has had a representative in the final every year of the 12 year competition as well.

Santos should win its preliminary round matchup over Olimpia, but Santos hasn't looked great in this Clasura season finishing just out of the playoffs. Isidro Metapan made the Clasura semi-finals before being knocked out so they'll be a tough matchup for the CFU winner. Real Espana won the Apatura but then finished out of the playoffs in the Clasura.

Santos is the big fish in this group (barring an upset by Olimpia) as any Mexican team would be. I'm assuming they will claim one of the two knock-out stage qualification spots. That means the Rapids have to beat Real Espana and the Metapan/CFU winner. I think the Rapids can do that, but the key will be to beat both of them at home and get at least a draw out of the home Santos game. Then they'll still need to get at least 2 points out of their trips to Real Espana and Metapan/CFU.

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 14th, 1814 - Skirmish of Otter Creek

Continuing our War of 1812 history lesson, 197 years ago tomorrow a small British flotilla engaged an American force at the mouth of Otter Creek on Lake Champlain. The British were driven off and proceeded up Bouquet River to destroy the flour supplies in the mills at the base of the falls before re-engaging the Americans on the return trip. The British took heavy casualties for a small payoff.

On the 197th anniversary of the battle the British-led Rapids will attempt to have more success against the American-led DC United in our Nation's capital. Colorado will hope to do more than destroy some flour as they beat this same DC team 4-1 at the Dick just last month. Game time is 5:30pm on Altitude and Class VI and Pid Army will be watching the game at the Highlands Tavern.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain), FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain); FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Ababio (R hamstring strain)
PROBABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); MF Sanna Nyassi (lower back strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (7 games)

The injury report is only slightly better this week. Casey did travel to DC with the team and is expected to play at some point. DC has 4 players out and 1 player with the U-20 team. Its hard to predict a lineup right now, but my guess:

Kimura - Wynne - Marshall - Moor
Nyassi - Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Smith
Casey - Akpan

If Nyassi and Casey are able to start that's not a bad lineup, with 8-9 of our regular starters. I expect Marshall to get the no over Wallace or Palguta on the back line. If Nyassi can't start then I think Kimura will move up to midfield again with one of those two taking his spot on the back line. I assume wither Casey or Amarikwa will be able to start, but it sounds like Casey will be able to and Quincy will come off the bench.

Key To Look For: Charlie Davies. The American striker is the hottest new player in MLS right now and somebody will need to have eyes on him at all times. Nobody else on DC has more than 2 goals or assists, so if the Rapids can keep Davies off the board they'll have a good shot to get a result.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal from Akpan. 3rd road game in a row with a beat up team, I'm feeling like a draw is a more likely result. We've saw the Rapids grind out 3 results last week and I expect more of the same. Akpan seems to be the hot striker right now, and with Casey int he game at some point to draw defenders he'll find a way to score.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Revisiting Mullan

Two weeks ago I wrote this in reference to Mullan's 10 game suspension:
If MLS cracks down going forward then I'll have no problem with the 10 games. Given the league's track record so far this season and their inconsistency over the history of the league I have no expectation that they will. Because of all that I think Mullan got about 4 games more than he deserved.
This morning MLS announced that they were suspending Chivas' Marcos Mondiani for his tackle on FSL's Javi Morales that resulted in a broken tibia, fibula, a dislocated ankle, and strained ligaments.

The primary difference between Mondiani's tackle and Mullan's tackle was the lack of obvious possible retribution and Mondani's tackle took place just outside the box. That's apparently enough to be 2.5 times less severe than Mullan's.

The 4 games doesn't even meet what the Disciplinary Committee said they were going to do this year. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Tyrone Marshall was given a 3 game suspension for breaking Kenny Cooper's leg in 2007. That's a solid baseline to work from. The Disciplinary Committee warned the players in the preseason that they were cracking down on these type of dangerous tackles this year. Then when they suspended Mullan they said that they would take the severity of the resulting injury into account when determining suspensions.

3 game baseline + crackdown + broken ankle = 4 games???

Even if Mullan only got 6 games a 4 game suspension doesn't meet the standards the Disciplinary Committee set on itself for this season. With the Mullan suspension as a precedent, this tackle should have been a minimum of 6 games.

As I predicted, MLS was inconsistent and comes out looking like a joke. This time its the Rapids who have to suffer the consequences of a player suspended for longer than an player in league history. In the long run though its going to be the next guy who gets his ankle broken or his leg snapped that will suffer because MLS just told its players that its OK to hack a player down, as long as he's near the goal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rapids All-Time Team: Goalkeeper

I'm starting a new feature for View From the Couch, the Rapids All-Time Team. Through the course of the season I'll roll out a starting XI of, IMO, the best Rapid player at each position. I've decided to go with a 3-4-3 over a 4-4-2 but it was close. There will also be a 7 man bench/honorable mention and a coach. There won't be any schedule for this, it will be a feature that I'll use to fill the down times in Rapids news. I'll start from the back and work forward.

The starting goalkeeper for the Rapids All-Time Team is Joe Cannon.

How Acquired: Traded 3 draft picks to San Jose for his rights.

Years In Colorado: Late 2003 through 2006

How Departed: Traded to LA for Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu.

There's a good deal of competition for this position as the Rapids have had a number of good keepers over the years. Adin Brown, Bouna Coundoul, Marcus Hahnemann, and Matt Pickens were all considerations. Joe Cannon stands above them all though. His 2004 season, his first as the Rapids #1, was hands down the best ever by a Rapids keeper. He played every minute of the season, facing a league high 187 shots and making 150 saves, only allowing 32 goals in 30 games with 10 shutouts. He single-handily kept the Rapids in multiple games. He was awarded the Goalkeeper of the Year (the only Rapids keeper ever to win the award) and was a MVP finalist.

Cannon continued as the #1 keeper in 2005 and 2006, starting 55 of the 64 games over the two seasons. Those seasons were notable for our elimination of FC Dallas in the first round of the playoffs each year, each time on a shootout in Dallas. In the 2005 shootout he saved Roberto Mina's attempt which allowed Jean-Phillpe Peguero to step up and win the series for the Rapids. In 2006 he broke up the post-game melee between Dallas keeper Dario Sala and Mike Petke. Overall Cannon had a 1.21 goals against average as a Rapid and one of the best personalities in team history.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rapids Steal A Point From the Revs

Much like the British stealing supplies at Fort Oswego (see game preview) the British-led Rapids stole a point from the Revolution in Foxboro on Saturday. An already beat up Colorado side got bad news when Jamie Smith couldn't start, causing the Rapids to set their XI without 5 regular starters and 2 regular backups, which forced them to play 2 more starters out of position. Things got worse in the 20th minute when Caleb Folan pulled up lame and had to be replaced by Andre Akpan.

There were a total of 3 shots on goal the whole game, so as you can expect there isn't much to talk about. New England also hit the crossbar twice, once on a header that was difficult to get on target and one on a point blank cross/shot that Feilhaber probably should have put in but did well to get as close as he did. Colorado had one good shot from Akpan, right after he entered the game that forced Reis to dive and force over the bar. Other than that the Rapids did absolutely nothing in the attack.

My key to the game was Feilhaber vs. Mastroeni. The team as a whole, more than Pablo alone, did a good job keeping Benny out of this game. His crossbar hit was the only real attack he was involved with.

Stat of the Game: This is the first time since Oct 12th, 2008 that neither Cummings or Casey appeared in a league match for the Rapids. That was also the last time one of them wasn't in the starting lineup until earlier this season.

Other Observations:
  • With the missing players and then losing Folan mid-game getting a draw is a good result. I can't blame the Rapids for playing it safe.
  • At this point we're down to our 5th and 6th strikers as our only healthy attackers. Let's hope Casey is ready to come back for the DC game next week as expected.
  • Kimura gets the Man of the Week award. He wasn't the Man of the Math in either game, but he was the best player in both games combined. He was asked to play right mid against the Revs and did it well for a defender out of position.
  • Please, no more Chris Marlowe on play-by-play. His mis-identification of players and general delivery was a big step down. Marc Stout is View From the Couch's pbp man of choice, but Mike Haynes has come along well and is significantly better than Marlowe.
  • Palguta struggled again, but the Revs struggled to take advantage. Hopefully Wallace is ready to come back or Nyassi is available and we can shift Koz to the back line.
  • Pablo and Ginger Ninja did a good job keeping anything from coming through the middle. They weren't really able to contribute to the attack though.
  • Getting 4 points on a 4-day, 2-time zone, 2-game road trip is a great result given our injury situation.
  • If it weren't for the loss to Seattle at home we'd be right on the "Win at home, draw on the road" ideal pace.
Player of the Game: Matt Pickens. A significant improvement from the Wednesday game. His save on Joseph's header is save of the week material, and he sacrificed his body to protect the draw in stoppage time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6th, 1814 - Battle Of Fort Oswego

On this date 197 years ago the British successfully attacked Fort Oswego, stealing supplies before withdrawing the next day. Tomorrow the British-led Rapids will attempt to successfully attack the Revolution in their fort of Gillette Stadium and will hope to steal 3 points. This will be Colorado's third game this week, and the lineup is still depleted by injury. Game time tomorrow is 5:30 and the game is on Altitude. The Pid Army and Class VI will be watching it at the Highlands Tavern.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain), FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Ababio (R hamstring strain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); MF Sanna Nyassi (lower back strain)
PROBABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R quadriceps strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (8 games)

That's an ugly injury report. Casey and Nyassi didn't travel with the team so questionable really means out. The Revs have 4 players questionable or worse so they're in better shape. Its really difficult to guess the lineup for this one, but here's my attempt:

Kimura - Moor - Wynne - Wallace
Thompson - Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Smith
Akpan - Folan

Palguta looked bad, despite his goal, on Wednesday and I can't see Marshall going 3 90s in one week. Wynne was able to get into the game late on Wednesday so I think he'll be starting. Wallace isn't on the injury report so hopefully he can go. Akpan seems to be the hot hand right now, with Amarikwa coming off the bench.

Key To Look For: Feilhaber vs. Mastroeni. Since the acquisition of the Nats midfielder the Revs have been much more dangerous. Pablo will need to step up and shut him down in order to take the bite out of the New England attack.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal from Folan. If this weren't our third game in a week I'd predict a win, but with tired legs, a depleted roster, and a long week of travel I don't see the Rapids having the energy to push for the win.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Unlikely Goals, Unlikely Win

A very even game turned on some very unusual Rapids goals last night. The first half was almost uneventful, with only one shot on goal combined, but there was one major incident with long-term ramifications for Colorado. Late in the half Cummings was battling with a Dynamo defender to run onto the ball. In the melee Cummings stumbled and rolled his ankle. He was immediately subbed out for Folan and today the Rapids announced that he's got a notable injury to his ankle. He flew back to Colorado while the rest of the team went to Boston for this Saturday's game.

The second half went much like the first until the last 20 minutes. Houston grabbed more and more of the momentum and it finally paid off in the 71st minute when former Rapid Colin Clark made Scott Palguta and Matt Pickens look bad by nutmeging Palguta to beat Pickens to the near post for a 1-0 lead. It was a goal that either one of them should have stopped.

The lead lasted all of 2 minutes before one of the bigger goalkeeping blunders of the year allowed the Rapids to level the score. Jamie Smith played an in-swinging free kick into the box from the left sideline about 40 yards out. For some reason Houston's keeper Tally Hall read it as an out-swinger and took two steps out to make a play on it, at which point he could just flap at it as it went over his head and into the net. 10 minutes later Colorado doubled their weird goal total, as Folan and Amarikwa managed to knock each other off a Wynne throw-in but as Folan went down he toe-poked the ball to the top of the box where an on-rushing Palguta slammed it home for his first professional goal to give the Rapids the lead and eventually the win.

My key to the game was Cummings and his partner being on the same page. His partner was Akpan and generally they weren't. Unfortunately Omar only got 40 minutes to work with Akpan so who knows what might have happened.

Other Observations:
  • Good to see Folan, Wynne, and Amarikwa get some time off the bench coming back from injury.l Hopefully they'll be able to start against the Revs on Saturday.
  • For the second game in a row Akpan looked better than Cummings. It will be a toss up as to who gets the nod with Folan, Akpan or Amarikwa.
  • I'm not so sure the Cummings injury isn't a bit of a blessing in disguise. Omar has not played as well this season as he's capable of and maybe some time off will get him refocused.
  • The Rapids, once again, couldn't figure out the final touches in the attacking third, leading to no real threats on goal other than the goals themselves.
  • Koz is our Energizer bunny, he just never stops.
  • Thompson and Palguta (goal aside) had poor games. Hopefully Wallace or Wynne can start on Saturday. I'm not sure Nyassi or Thompson has looked good in replacing Mullan.
  • Pickens had a poor night. Not only did he commit the cardinal sin of getting beat near post on the goal, but twice he went on a Bouna-style walkabout only to not get the ball. Luckily Marshall covered both times to prevent Houston getting a decent shot off.
  • Huge come from behind road win for the Rapids. Maybe that's what we needed to jump-start our season!
Player of the Game: Jamie Smith. Honestly nobody had an outstanding game, but that was a great goal.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No Rest For The Weary

Colorado has to bounce back quickly from last Saturday's disappointment. Tomorrow the Rapids are back at it, this time on the road in Houston to face the Dynamo. The Dynamo, especially in Houston, has been a bit of a nemesis for Colorado and they'll be looking to break this 4 game winless streak against a team that beat DC 4-1 at home on Friday. Kickoff tomorrow is at 6:30pm and the game will be on Altitude. No official Class VI watch party, but Pid Army will be at the Highland Tavern.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Ababio (R hamstring strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle strain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain)
PROBABLE: FW Caleb Folan (R quadriceps strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Brian Mullan (9 games)

The official injury report hasn't been updated since last Friday. Gary Smith has said that Amarikwa, Folan, Thompson, and Wynne will all be available though. Casey, unfortunately, is still out. Houston had 3 players listed as doubtful or out on the last official injury report. Figuring out the lineup for this one is going to be tough, but my best guess:

Kimura - Moor - Wynne - Wallace
Thompson - Mastroeni - Larentowicz - Smith
Cummings - Folan

I think Smith has seen Wallace get burned a couple of times but at Marshall's age the quick turnaround is probably not in his favor. Nyassi has looked better coming off the bench than starting, so I think Thompson will get the start.

Key To Look For: Cummings and his partner have to be on the same page and involved in the game. We haven't seen that for 4 games and not surprisingly we've only scored once in those 4 games. If that doesn't change then it won't matter what the rest of the team does, we won't win.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal from Larentowicz. I don't think Cummings and Casey's replacement (whomever it ends up being) will be in sync yet, but they'll do enough to open a long shot for Ginger Ninja. Houston is looking fairly dangerous lately and given our issues playing in Texas I don't see us keeping them off the board. A draw would be a good result for us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Elements Cancel Out For a Draw

Water met Fire on Saturday night and the two opposing forces resulted in no winner as Chicago and Colorado ended with a 1-1 draw in very cold temps. The Rapids were playing with a depleted lineup, missing Casey, Folan, Wynne, and of course Mullan. Despite that they controlled the majority of play.

Chicago had only 3 shots on goal, alas they scored on one. Right before half Puerari played a through ball that allowed both Oduro and Pappa to beat the offside trap. Oduro beat Wallace to the ball and got a cross into the box. Kimura let Pappa get ball side of him and he beat Pickens at the near post to give the Fire a 1-0 lead at the break.

The Rapids didn't wait long to strike back though. 4 minutes after the break Cummings played a great ball that Akpan, in his first professional start, ran onto behind the Fire defense. From a tight angle he ripped a shot that Fire keeper Conway got a hand on but couldn't prevent going into the upper 9- for Akpan's first professional goal. After that the Rapids had a couple of good chances but couldn't find the winning goal, having to settle for the tie.

My key to the game was the Rapids rediscovering their form. While they controlled the game there was still something missing in the final third. The team is getting closer, but they aren't there yet.

Other Observations:
  • Where have you gone Omar Cummings? I don't know if he's just disappointed about not moving to the EPL or really needs Casey to play off of, but he's been AWOL most of this season.
  • We really miss Casey. Its obvious that we have nobody to hold the ball in the middle of the attacking third to open up options.
  • While Kimura was beat on the goal the fact that the right back was racing to get ball side of somebody on the left post shows you how badly the whole defense was beat.
  • I'm not sure what LaBaeux was going to bring to the game at the end that Nyassi wasn't bringing. You know we're in bad shape when that was the best option off the bench.
  • I'm not sure if this is something Gary Smith wants him to do, but Jamie Smith is playing much more inside this season. It really leaves Wallace on an island.
  • Pickens was upset at his defense a couple of times. At least once it was due to Nyassi not knowing his responsibilities on a free kick and Pickens had to make a big save on the restart. The team has to get that worked out.
  • I'm getting tired of these cold nights at the Dick!
Player of the Game: Andre Akpan. not only did he get a goal in his first start he looked more involved than Cummings and his work with the ball was better than I expected.