Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Slower, Lower, Weaker

More of the same.  Not really going to review the game because if you saw any league match in July you saw this game.

My key to the game was the Rapids figuring out how to win.  Not yet.

Other Observations:
  • The first Sounders goal we just got beat on.  It was a corner kick and Johnson did a good job of getting his man (Wynne it looks like) caught in traffic so EJ could have a free header.  Sometimes the other team just runs their plan better than you do.
  • The second Sounders goal though was a defensive cluster, again.  Despite having 5 men in the box (the whole back line + Larentowicz) against 4 attackers Johnson was unmarked to make the cross and Alonso was unmarked to take the shot.  How the hell does something like that happen?
  • That whole sequence started on an admittedly less-than-stellar back pass from Casey, but Larentowicz sat flat footed and watched it roll by without making an attempt to corral it.
  • Nice work by Moor on the Rapids goal.  Good job cleaning up on the back post.
  • Cummings is really struggling to make an impact.  something is not clicking with him.
  • Casey ad 1 golden chance and a couple of difficult but good chances to tie the game.  I can't fault him for not finishing the two headers, but the week strike to try to get it over the keeper has to be better.
  • Rivero's free kicks are good (hit the crossbar on one of them) but his corner kicks are not.  Somebody else should be taking those.
  • One of these days Pickens will get his team-record setting win, right?
  • 6 losses in a row ties a team record.  Maybe we can avoid setting a new one against FSL next week.
  • Sadly, this was the best we've looked all month and we still lost.
Player Of The Game: Brian Mullan.  He's become the Energizer bunny of the team.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Faster, Higher, Stronger?

As much as I love the Rapids, this will be my sporting obsession for now

So the Rapids have one more chance to get a meaningful win this month, being 0-0-5 so far.  Tomorrow the Sounders are back for their first game in Colorado since the Steve Zakuani incident, and hopefully he'll be playing.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm and the tailgate, featuring fish tacos, starts at 4.  So break away from the Olympics and come have some good food.  If you can't make it but still don't want to watch the Games this game will be on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Conor Casey (L hamstring tightness); FW Edu (R foot contusion)
PROBABLE: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall; MF Martin Rivero; DF Tyson Wahl

We get the Ginger Ninja back from suspension, but it looks like Casey is still unavailable.  Seattle is missing 5 players and just today swapped DP's, so who knows if their new one will be available.  My guess at the XI:

Hill - Cummings
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Wahl - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

After his good play against Swansea OP said that he had misjudged Hill.  I think we're going to see him start with Casey and Edu unavailable.  Wahl seems to be getting the nod over Zapata recently, otherwise everything else is as it has been.

Key To Look For: There's no key at this point, the Rapids just have to figure out how to win.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Larentowicz.  I don't see the Rapids breaking their winless streak tomorrow, but I think they can get a point out of this game.  Ginger will score fro a free kick but once again a defensive mental mistake will cost us points.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Swans And Keepers

No full review of last night's friendly, but some odds and ends that I observed. First though, the news of the day. Colorado signed goalkeeper Matt Pickens to a multi-year contract extension today. As always terms were not released but we'll see the new salary when the Players Union updates its salary list. Pickens joins Mullan, Moor, Larentowicz, and Cummings with new multi-year deals since the end of last season.

Now, onto last night's game. The Rapids won 2-1 with two great goals from Andre Akpan and Kamani Hill in the first 15 minutes before Jonathan De Guzman scored directly from a free kick with 12 minutes to play. With the exception of the last 15 minutes or so Swansea wasn't really trying hard, and after 30 minutes their players were obviously struggling after their long flight from London on Monday and playing at altitude. Despite that there were some interesting notes:

  • Swansea players laid a wreath at midfield before the game and both teams held a moment of silence in memory of the Aurora victims which was very much appreciated.
  • Oddly there was no British/Welsh flag flying and neither God Save The Queen or Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (the Welsh anthem) were played, though the Star-Spangled Banner was sung like any other game.
  • Hill looked good last night.  Pareja's post-game comments seemed to insinuate he may have read Hill's place wrong and he's reassessing.  Its will be interesting to see if we see more of Hill now.
  • On top of that his goal was an absolute bomb off the post from outside the area.
  • Thompson had a harsh tackle that would have been questionable for a league game, much less a friendly.
  • Great combination work between Smith, Zapata, and Akpan for the first goal within 5 minutes.
  • De Guzman's goal was good, but Joyce completely misread it.  Most keepers probably could have stopped it.
  • Great to see homegrown players Davy Armstrong and Shane O'Neil get their first home playing time (for Armstrong) and first playing time of any kind (O'Neil).  Armstrong played RB while O'Neil took Larentowicz's spot in midfield.
  • Unfortunately the attendance was only about 6500.  I have a feeling that's going to lead to the Rapids not bringing in a big European team again for a while.  They'll probably revert to Mexican teams where they know they'll get good attendance.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Horrible Week Comes To A Lousy End

More of the same from the Rapids.  Boneheaded defending combined with a complete lack of creativity led to a 2-0 loss and the loss of the Rocky Mountain Cup, again.  I won't discuss the Rapids offense because there was none.  0 shots on goal in the game.  On the defense things were relatively solid until Wynne brain-locked again.  With Espindola hanging around Wynne played a slow backpass to Pickens and Espindola pounced.  Pickens made a noble attempt to get to the ball but the deflection rolled right in front of goal.  Saborio invited Espindola to come over and finish it because there were no Rapids nearby but eventually finished it himself.

Right at the end of the game the Rapids defense had another individual mental mistake.  Marshall held the ball while Saborio stayed on his back.  Sabario was able to muscle Tyrone off the ball and poke it to an on-rushing Will Johnson.  Again a stranded Pickens tried to make the stop but it was an easy 2nd goal.

My key to the game was if the team cared.  From the looks of things, not really.

Other Observations:
  • I know there's been a lot of talk on-line about the Rapids being bad because Pareja's lost the locker room.  Maybe so, but that doesn't excuse the two idiotic mental mistakes from Wynne and Marshall.
  • After Wynne giving up on the second goal on Toronto and the stupid backpass int his game I'm wondering where his mind is.  I would actually consider sitting him down for a game or two just to see if he gets his head screwed on straight.
  • At some point somebody just needs to shoot the damn ball.  Cummings had a great chance he passed up on trying to get the perfect shot, and he wasn't alone.
  • Thompson had a good game as a surprise starter.  I still think he's best as a late-game defensive sub though.
  • Mullan was in the running for player of the game.  He was certainly our only offensive player that looked like he knew what he was doing.
  • Omar coming in at halftime had a positive effect form a first half of garbage.
  • Largely due to Jaime Castrillon once again being completely invisible.
  • Edu is still a waste of space on the field.
  • No preview for tomorrow's friendly against Swansea City.  It should be a fun time though!
Player Of The Game: Joseph Nane.  Yeah, I'm a little surprised too but Nane really stepped in for the suspended Larentowicz and did a good job as a defensive/holding midfielder.  I'm not ready to say he should be starting but considering that before Saturday he probably would have been the first player I cut if I needed to cut someboady his performance was a big surprise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rocky Mountain Cup Round 2

It would be nice not to lose this tomorrow

At this point the last thing the Rapids probably want to do is play a game.  On top of the horrible events in Aurora last night the team had to change its plans for today.  Originally the team was scheduled to fly straight from Toronto to Salt Lake City but they stopped in Denver today for the funeral of Marisa Colaiano.  Maris had been the head of the Rapids Community Relations department for the last 10 years before she passed away on Tuesday due to complications from MS.  The whole team attended the funeral today before getting back on a plane and continuing to SLC.  The team will wear black armbands in her honor tomorrow (they also wore them in Toronto).

Game time tomorrow is 8pm and the game is on Altitude.  The large watch party is at the Celtic.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Conor Casey (L hamstring tightness)
PROBABLE: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Jeff Larentowicz
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall; MF Martin Rivero

Jamie Smith is now back on the injury report and Casey has gotten worse.  Ginger is suspended.  My guess at our starting XI is going to be a pure guess:

Cascio - Cummings
Castrillon - O'Neill - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

I think OP rested Castrillon and Zapata on Wedensday so they'd be ready for this game.  And yes, I'm predicting that homegrown player Shane O'Neill gets the start in Ginger's place.

Key To Look For: Does this team care?  It didn't look like it on Wednesday and the week has only gotten worse from there.

Prediction: No prediction this week.  I have no idea where the team is mentally right now.  We could go out hair on fire and win 4-0, or we can show up like we don't want to play and lose 4-0.  More importantly I hope the players, staff, and fans can get a couple of hours of enjoyment out of the game after a long week.

In Our Thoughts

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Haven't I Seen This Before?

Did you watch the Dallas game?  The San Jose game?  The New England game?  Then you saw this game.  I feel lousy and apparently the team doesn't care about actually making an effort (way to totally give up on the second TFC goal Wynne.  That will get you time in the Nats) so why should I make an effort?  We lost, the team didn't care in the second half, and this season could spiral out of control. 
Player Of The Game: Conor Casey.  He was about the only player that did care and he got his 50th MLS goal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Greatest Triumph

Second game in a row I can use this pic :D

We go from facing our opposition in MLS Cup to playing at the location of MLS Cup.  Unfortunately the Rapids have lost every game they've ever played in Toronto other than MLS Cup.  Much like Seattle, Toronto appears unbeatable at home, at least by us.  Tomorrow we make another attempt with an early (for Denver) start time of 5pm MDT.  The game is on altitude, and those people who can get there from work will be meeting at the Celtic.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R hamstring strain);  FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall; MF Martin Rivero

Jamie Smith is now off the injury report, which is great!  I would expect Casey and Cummings to start despite their status.  Toronto is missing 6 players to injury, including former Rapids Ty Harden and Adrian "Dalek" Cann.  They also lost their attacking DP Danny Koevermans last week to a blown ACL.  Needless to say, they're hurting.  My guess at our starting XI:

Casey - Cummings
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

While I would like to see Smith in Castrillon's role, I expect OP to stick with what he's been doing.

Key To Look For: Can the midfield cover when the defense gets pulled out of alignment?  I've realized we are giving up a number of goals where the opposition overloads one side of the box, forcing the defense to that side,, and leaving a attacker open at the back post because the midfield isn't covering.  That needs to change.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  goal by Casey.  Honestly even with our struggles in Toronto this should be an easy win, but the team has played so horribly lately I can't imagine doing better than a draw, and even that seems optimistic.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Well...That Sucked

A reverse MLS Cup.  In Toronto Dallas scored first and then gave up two goals.  Saturday night we scored first and then gave up two goals.  Other than that, if you saw the Seattle loss or the Vancouver loss or the San Jose loss then you saw this game.  I'm not going to spend any time rehashing what we already know.  We controlled the game early, failed to convert, then failed to mark attackers on a couple of crosses and lost.

My key to the game was the basics.  Score goals, don't allow them.  Yep, pretty much a failure.

Other Observations:
  • Our midfield sucks.  Castrillon is a hole, Larentowicz has forgotten how to defend or attack, and Rivero is a decent distributor but with no support from the rest of his midfield and his lack of pace he can't do much more than that.  Only Mullan is doing what we need and he can't do it alone.
  • I'm not sure who had the mark on the first goal (hard to tell on the replay) but it was either Mullan or Zapata.  Either way you can't just let a guy run at goal on a cross uncontested.
  • On the second goal Zapata got beat like a drum.  Moor cleared it off the line with a header while Freeman covered the other half of the goal but Wynne and particularly Larentowicz were slow getting back and it was an easy clean-up.
  • The Rapids goal was great though.  It was a flashback to 2010 as Casey slotted a ball through to Cummings who finished it near post.
  • Edu must be Portuguese for 'pointless'.
  • Rivero's free kicks are sink or swim.  Either their right where they need to be or so far off that nobody can do anything with them.
  • In past years we would have subbed in Wells Thompson and tried to sit on the 1-1 draw.  Pareja's aggressive subbing of Smith, Edu, and Cascio might have cost us a point, but at least we were trying for 3 instead of accepting 1.
  • Last time we lost 3 out 4 at home was 2001.  Yuck.
  • On to Toronto...where we've never even gotten a point off of TFC.
Player Of The Game: Omar Cummings.  Had the goal and the closest we got to a second goal as he slammed one off the post.  Casey was also in the running for this one.  C+C Goal Factory is back, they just have no midfield support.

Rapids Waive Henao, Place Pablo Back On DL

Not that we'll miss him but today the Rapids waived Harrison Henao and he'll return to the team we loaned him from. On a worse note, Pablo Mastroeni was placed back on the Disabled List due to his concussion symptoms, which means he's out at least the next 6 games. The soonest he could play is against San Jose on August 25th but I think we have to accept that while we might see him have one last token sub appearance his career is essentially done at this point.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Real Championship" Dallas In Town

I'll take any excuse to use this picture :D

Yes, our favorite MLS Cup losers, FC Dallas, are in town tomorrow night.  As far as I know Daniel "Real Championship" Hernandez will be with them so be sure to give him your love.  Dallas just today traded with Toronto for Designated Player Julian de Guzman so it will be interesting to see if he's with the team tomorrow and if he plays at all.  The tailgate starts at 5pm with kickoff at 7.  For those who can't make it the game is on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R hamstring strain);  FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall; MF Martin Rivero

No change in the injury report, but after a week's rest you have to figure the three probable players are all available and ready to play.  Dallas has 6 players questionable or worse, including George "Own Goal" John who has been ruled out with concussion symptoms.  Former Rapid Ugo Ihemelu is also out with concussion symptoms so obviously they're in worse shape than we are.  My guess at the starting XI:

Casey - Cummings
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

Seems fairly obvious, the only question is if Smith gets worked into the starting lineup or not.

Key To Look For: At this point I have to go back to the very basics.  Can the forwards put balls in the net while the defenders keep them out of the net?  Its been the rare game this season when we've accomplished both goals.

Prediction: 3-1 win.  Goals by Casey (twice) and Cummings.  Dallas has the second worse goal differential in the league and I see no reason why the C+C Goal Factory can't take advantage.  Our defense will have one blunder that leads to a goal but Casey and Cummings will feast on the Dallas D.

Rapids Trade For Tyson Wahl

Today the Rapids traded an international roster spot in 2014 for Montreal Impact defender Tyson Wahl. Wahl was drafted by Kansas City in 2006taken in Seattle's expansion draft in 2009, then traded to Montreal in this past offseason for allocation money. He's played in 82 games between his 3 prior teams, including 11 games for Montreal this season. Wahl is primarily a left back but can also play center back, so he gives us cover for both areas.

Some fans are suggesting that with the Kimura trade last week we've essentially traded Kimura for Wahl but I don't think that's fair. Kimura was solely a right back who never succeeded in his limited time on the left and didn't have the skill set to play in the center. Wahl can play left or center. Also Kimura was traded for an international spot this year plus allocation money while we gave up an allocation spot in 2 seasons for Wahl. Two complete separate trades addressing two different issues.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Unamazing Seven

Now 7 games in Seattle, 7 losses.  Total of 5 goals scored, 18 conceded.  That's really the story of this game.

The Rapids were under siege the first 15 minutes but somehow, amazingly, didn't give up a goal.  The rest of the half was also controlled by the Sounders, but the Rapids managed to relieve the pressure a bit better after the first third of the half.  The second half started the same way, but Seattle actually got it to pay off.  Off a corner kick Zapata and Freeman got confused on their marking and Alvo Fernandez was left unmarked for an easy header and a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after that Colorado got their first shot on target, a long-range effort form Larentowicz that was easily saved.  12 minutes after their first goal though, Seattle struck again.  Again off a corner but this time it was initially cleared before being crossed back in.  Drew Moor drifted away from Eddie Johnson which left Conor Casey to try to mark him.  Again, another easy header for a goal.

Finally the Rapids started to put something together.  Cascio and Cummings came on for the last 15 minutes and in the 79th minute Zapata hit Omar with a perfect cross that he buried to cut the lead in half.  In the 86th minute Cummings appeared to tie it up only to be ruled offside.  Immediately afterwards was the high point of the game as Steve Zakuani made his return to the field for the first time after the tackle by Mullan.  Rivero had one great look that he skied before the end of the game and the Rapids went home with their 7th loss in 7 tried in the Emerald City.

My key to the game was if we played a team game.  Not really, most of the team played pretty poorly.

Other Observations:
  • I've seen less pomp and ceremony at the beginning of the World Cup Final than I saw in Seattle on Saturday.  I get the honoring of the armed forces, but the flags and red carpet?  Pretentious much?
  • On the first Sounders goal Freeman clearly thought Zapata was going to hand off his mark to Freeman and take Fernandez, while Zapata clearly thought he was to stay with his mark while Freeman stayed with Fernandez.  Oops.
  • Annoying that Fernandez scored, given the Olympic-level diving he's known for, which happened again this match.
  • I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that an actual defender and not Casey should be marking Eddie Johnson.
  • Zapata was very lucky not to give up a PK to Johnson between the two goals.  On replay it could have easily been called a PK even if I'm not 100% convinced it was the right call.  The ref was right there though.
  • EJ's half stand and flop back down after the PK wasn't called should have drawn a yellow though.
  • Great goal by Zapata and Cummings.  More of that please.
  • Cummings non-goal due to offside was close enough that I can't complain.
  • Great to see Zakuani back on the field!
  • Of course the reason I can't complain is that NBC was so wrapped up in the Zakuani story that they couldn't be bothered to show a usable replay.  The only replay they showed during the game was from the other endline which is useless for determining offside.  Post-game they couldn't be bothered to show either Cummings' goal or Cummings' non-goal.  I had to rewind to the live action and pause it myself to see the offside line and even that was at an angle that makes it hard to tell.  Of course NBC had no problem showing replays from multiple angles of the Sounders goals post-game.  Sloppy NBC, sloppy.
  • Generally the team, outside of Pickens and Casey, played like they didn't care for the first 75 minutes. They showed up for the last 15 minutes (when they got 2 of their 3 shots on goal) but by then it was too little too late.
Player Of The Game: Conor Casey.  He was isolated up top most of the game but never stopped working or fighting.  Its really obvious how much we missed him while he was injured.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rapids Enter Their Death Zone

In climbing, everything above 26,000 feet is the Death Zone

In 6 competitive games in Seattle (4 in MLS, 2 in USOC). the Rapids have lost 6 times, scoring 4 goals and allowing 16.  Tomorrow the Rapids will enter their Death Zone again as they're in my hometown for a late game.  Both teams are coming off of 4th of July games, Seattle was held to a scoreless draw in Sandy.  Game time tomorrow is an unusually late 9pm MDT and the game will be nationally broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.  If you have access to Direct Kick or MDL you can watch Koz try to lead his new team against his old rivals as Portland plays FSL at 7pm MDT.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R hamstring strain);  FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall

Wynne is finally off of the in jury report and , sadly, there's no need to list Koz anymore.  So the injury looks as good as its looked all season.  Seattle has 6 players questionable or worse, including Steve Zakuani who's  possible playing time is being kept under wraps by Seattle.  My guess at the starting XI:

Casey - Cascio
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

At this point the only real questions are if Smith is ready to start (I doubt it) and if Cummings or Cascio will start.  With Omar still fighting the ankle injury I'm guessing he gets a rest so he doesn't have to play on Seattle's turf

Key To Look For: A team game.  Every group has to be firing on all cylinders if we're going to win this one.

Prediction: 3-1 loss.  Goal by Casey.  I don't see why this Rapids team will change history and get any points in Seattle.  Seattle hasn't been playing well, but that seems to be typical when we go to Seattle and we always look over-matched there.  Casey will find a way to get a goal, but the team won't be able to control the game and the Sounders will overwhelm our iffy defense.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Deja VancoUver

First of all, read my recap of the last Vancouver game.  Now that you've done that I can skip most of my recap of this game.  The Rapids dominated this game and lost 1-0.  17 attempts on goal to 3, 6 shots on target to 1.  Vancouver's 1 shot went in, none of the Rapids shots came close.  That was the difference.

My key was the rested squad versus the tired one.  Vancouver made it easy on us by packing it in, playing for the 0-0 draw, and hoping to steal a goal and 3 points.  Well, they did.

Other Observations:
  • The goal was scored when Drew Moor whiffed on a clearance and the ball fell to Mattocks.  Wynne was also in the area and couldn't clear it but the primary responsibility was Moor's.  an easy clearance that just got stuck under him and allowed Mattocks an easy goal.
  • Despite having 17 chances and 6 shots on goal, none of them were great chances.  The closest was Casey trying to bring the ball down in front of the net but having it glance off his thigh.  Everything else were either long shots or easily saved.
  • Larentowicz had a particularly bad game IMO.  his passes were just being sprayed everywhere.
  • Cummings is either still significantly injured or he's lsot his mojo.  Trading his roommate and best firend today probably won't help.
  • Casey had another solid game back.  He could have done better with the one chance but he did a lot of work for the attack without much support.
  • Just a generally poor game across the board from the team.  They just weren't up for the biggest game of the year.
Player Of The Game: Luis Zapata.  Hard to pick anyone as particularly playing well in this one, but Vancouver was never a threat down the elft side due to Zapata's play.

Kosuke Kimura Traded

A day that would always eventually come, but none of us hoped to see so soon. Koz is no longer a Rapid. This afternoon he was traded to the Portland Timbers for allocation money and an international player spot.

Its no secret that Koz is (or was, now) my favorite player on the Rapids. That said he's had a rough year and has been passed on the depth chart by Freeman and Zapata. If the Rapids can use the allocation money and the international spot well, this could turn out to be a good trade. The timing of the trade with the transfer window being open and Paul Bravo being in Africa last month leads me to believe the team has something lined up already.

If they fumble this away though this could really hurt the team. There is now almost no depth on the backline. Literally the only backups we have anywhere on the bakcline now are Marshall and Palguta. *gulp* Add to that the wide dissatisfaction in the fan base with this move (even if its somewhat a gross overreaction) and the Rapids are going to have to do something soon.

To Koz, thanks for 5+ years of great service. Good luck in Portland.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rapids Try To Burn Whitecaps

The burning of York

200 years ago the U.S. fought the War of 1812 against Britain, mainly in British-held Canada.  As part of the war the American forces burned York.  Tonight the Rapids will try to recreate the victory over Canada by beating the Vancouver Whitecaps on Independence Day.  The game will be followed by the traditional fireworks show.  Kickoff is at 7:30 so the tailgate starts at 4:30 and the game is on Altitude.  As regular readers know I will not be present for this game as I have my own event to celebrate, my 14th wedding anniversary with my wonderful wife.  

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R hamstring strain);  FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); DF Kosuke Kimura (L foot contusion); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; DF Tyrone Marshall

The injury report is the same as last game.  Vancouver has 6 players missing, so they're hurting more than we are.  The quick turn around between games and the fact we're going to Seattle on Saturday leads me to believe we'll see a change tonight.  My guess at the starting XI:

Casey - Cascio
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

Cummings was noticeably limping when he came off on Saturday and I think Papi will give him this game to rest so he's ready to go in Seattle.  Though with the turf in Seattle he might play tonight and take Saturday off.  We could see Kimura instead of Zapata but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Key To Look For: Vancouver's rested squad versus our squad on short rest.  Will the big crowd give the Rapids the energy they need or will Vancouver be able to dictate the pace of the game?

Prediction: 2-1 win.  Goals by Casey and Larentowicz.  An All-American scoring duo will give the U.S. the win over Canada on the 4th of July.  It won't be easy and the winner will come late, but the big crowd and the Independence Day tradition will give the rapids the edge they need.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rapids Sink Timbers

Sorry for the delay, a 14+ hour work day will do that.  On Saturday an almost healthy Rapids team took the field for the first time this season and took the Timbers to the woodshed.  The game was well in hand after 22 minutes and really over as soon as the teams came out of the halftime locker room and the Rapids stayed in control.

Twice in 4 minutes (the 18th and 22nd) Colorado burned the left side of Portland's defense for a goal.  On the first Freeman found space on the wing and brought it inside before crossing to a wide open Castrillon for the first goal.  Honestly the ball was good enough and Castrillon was open enough that a traffic cone would have been sufficient for Freeman to ricochet the ball off of for the goal.  Then Mullan found similar space but stayed out wide before crossing in for Casey to head home his first goal of the year.  Any resistance the Timbers had left was removed at that point.

Portland got its closest chance in the 36th minute off a Kris Boyd free kick that Pickens had to dive to save. The stats show another shot on target in first half stoppage time but it couldn't have been very dangerous as I don't remember it.  Those were the only two shots on target all night for the Timbers.  The Rapids controlled the second half and finished off Spencer's boys with a great team goal in the 89th minute.  Rivero slid a perfect through ball to Cascio who found himself 1v1 on the edge of the box.  He brought the ball deep, made Perkins commit, then crossed it to the onrushing Jamie Smith, seeing his first action of the year, for the 3rd goal.

My key was the defense and on Saturday they figured out how to work as a team.  Portland's impotent attack helped though.

Other Observations:
  • A great combination of old and new players working together in this one.  There were 2 goals and 1 primary assist from players on the roster last year and 2 primary assists and 1 goal from players new to the roster this year.
  • Great to see Casey and Smith get on the scoreboard for the season, and Smith in his first game, as a sub!
  • Cummings was still held back by his ankle and was obviously hobbling a bit by the time he was subbed off.
  • Castrillon got the goal and did a good job creating space for the other forwards.  His work in the midfield was quiet again though.  Maybe that's what Papi wants him to do but to me its not enough.,  If he wants to be a goal-poaching forward he can be Casey's backup and let Smith work in the midfield.
  • Rivero didn't have a great game,, but he had a pretty good one.  He's clearly the newcomer of the year on the team.
  • Wells Thompson came in as a defensive sub for the last 15 or so minutes.  Exactly the one role he's good at.
  • Freeman had a great game.  He's certainly earned his starting spot.  If Koz wants to get back into the lineup he'll have to force Zapata to the bench.
  • Zapata was playing a higher line than the rest of the defense for the first 30 minutes or so.  After Cabrera got off the bench to tell him to move back and a halftime adjustment he seemed to be back on the same page as the rest of the team.
  • A quiet game for Pickens, he's earned it.
  • Overall jsut a great team effort when the team desperately needed it.
Player Of The Game: Brian Mullan.  I had a hard time picking a player because everyone was playing at a high level so nobody really stood out.  Jake convinced me that Brian was playing a bit better than everyone else though.