Sorry for the delay. As expected Peter Sagan won the Denver stage, giving him 4 wins in 7 stages at his first USA Pro Challenge. Ben King got the day's most aggressive rider jersey, and no other changes happened in the standings.
Your final podium:
1st - Teejay Van Garderen - BMC (USA)
2nd - Mathas Frank - BMC (SUI) - 1'30"
3rd - Tom Danielson - Garmin-SHARP (USA) - 1'42"
Sprint Jersey - Peter Sagan - Cannondale (SVK)
King of the Mountains Jersey - Matt Cooke - Jamis-Hagens Berman (USA)
Young Rider Jersey - Lachlan Morton - Garmin-SHARP (AUS)
Team Classification - BMC
As expected if the break didn't succeed, Peter Sagan too the bunch sprint in Fort Collins. No changes to any of the standings and Simon Geschke of Argos-Shimano was given the orange jersey for the day for the work he put into the break. With no mountains today Matt Cooke has wrapped up the red King of the Mountains jersey and Sagan ha a insurmountable lead in the green Sprint jersey.
Today's stage is a circuit race in downtown Denver, otherwise known as the Peter Sagan victory tour, where he'll almost certainly get his 4th win.
As the last rider of the day Van Garderen had a tall task, as Garmin-SHARP's Andrew Talansky had crushed the course record by 42", setting a time of 25' 05". It appeared that he wasn't quite up to the task as the coverage showed him crossing the line at 25' 15" but the time was immediately announced as 25' 01" giving Teejay the stage win, a new course record, and a race lead of a minute and a half over his teammate Mathias Frank. Tommy D finished 3rd on the stage, 1' 02" back, and is also 3rd overall int he race, 1' 42" back. None of the ongoing jerseys changed today, and Talansky was given the orange most aggressive jersey as a consolation prize.
At this point, barring a complete tactical blunder by BMC, Teejay has won the race. That sets tomorrow up as a great day for a break to get away and win and that usually means Jens Voigt. Since the group staying together would mean a bunch sprint, only Cannondale is likely to chance since no other team will want to help set up Peter Sagan. His closest competitor, Greg Van Avermaet, races for BMC who will be more interested in protecting Teejay's yellow jersey than hunting down a break.
As expected Garmin-SHARP attacked today to try to take the race away from BMC's Teejay Van Garderen, who was in the best position going into tomorrow's Vail time trial if nothing changed. After riding a brisk tempo all day to catch Radio shack-Leopard-TREK's Tony Gallopin Garmin surged to the front at the base of the Bachelor Gulch climb. First Christian Vande Velde and then race leader Lachlan Morton pressed the tempo to set up Tommy D. Danielson was unable to shake Van Garderen though and once they topped the climb Teejay sped away with him on the decent, along side Jamis-Hagen's Jainer Acevedo. Acevedo took the stage and Teejay took the yellow jersey. Van Garderen now has a 30 second lead over everyone other than his own teammate, Mathias Frank, who's only 4 seconds behind. Van Garderen has improved from 2 years ago, the last time this time trial course was used, and then he finished 6th, 51 seconds behind Vande Velde (currently more than 2 minutes back) and 18 seconds behind Tommy D, who's now 40 seconds behind Teejay going into tomorrow' time trial.
Short of Teejay falling off his bike or something equally unlikely he will still be the race leader after tomorrow's stage. With Saturday and Sunday likely to be bunch sprints, Teejay has all but sewn up the race win with today's performance. Matt Cooke has solidified his lead in the climbers competition, but there's still mountains to get over on Saturday. Peter Sagan keeps the sprinters jersey but hasn't locked it up, though I'd be shocked if anyone took it. I wasn't paying attention the last two days as Lachlan Morton had both the yellow and blue (young riders) jersey, not Peter Sagan. Morton lost the yellow but keeps a 45 second lead int he blue jersey, probably enough to win it. Team lead stays with BMC. Michael Rodgers gets today's most aggressive orange jersey.
The Rapids announced today that both Davy Armstrong and Kory Kindle have had surgery for significant injuries that will end their season. Armstrong blew out his ACL while he was on loan with Phoenix FC and will be out for 6 months. He'll be ready to come back shortly before the start of the 2014 season, but he's in a contract year so we'll see if he gets a new contract or not. Kindle is dealing with a sports hernia and will be out for the next 3 months. He could be back in time for the Conference Finals and/or MLS Cup should the Rapids make it that far, but odds are he's done for the season.
Neither player has had any first team minutes this season so there shouldn't be much change for the team, but it does hurt their chances of sticking with the team in 2014.
As expected one large peloton came into Steamboat Springs after picking up the final remnants of the days break, with fan-favorite Jens Voigt being the last man picked up just a few kilometers from the line. A bunch sprint usually means just a few men are likely to win, most likely Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, or Peter Sagan, and only Sagan is in Colorado for this race. Another win for the Slovak and he keeps his hands on the green and blue jerseys. None of the jerseys or the team lead changed hands today other than the orange most aggressive rider, which is awarded based on each day's race and went to Jens Voigt. since with the exception of a small break at the end by the sprinters everyone finished on the same time.
Tomorrow's climb up to Beaver Creek and Friday's time trial in Vail will decide the race. Expect Garmin-SHARP to attack early and often tomorrow as while they have the most options to win, BMC's Teejay Van Garderen is probably best positioned being the best time trial rider among the favorites and only 11 seconds back of Lachlan Morton, who's time trial ability right now as young rider is something of a question mark. Garmin will want to either extend Morton's lead or get Tommy D off the front to get a slight lead on Teejay going into the time trial.
Normally I have more of a preview of the race, but I've been busy. Quick recap of what we've seen so far and where we're going from here:
Stage 1: In the circuit around Aspen it was expected that the race would end in a bunch sprint, and it did. Also as expected Slovakain National Champion Peter Sagan won the day and took the first yellow(overall), green(sprinter), and blue(young rider) jerseys. A group of 17 contested the sprint and picked up 5 seconds over the rest of the field. The big loser was Garmin's Andrew Talansky who lost minutes, not seconds, yesterday and any GC hope. Matt Cooke took the red (climber) jersey, Craig Lewis the orange (aggressive rider) jersey, and Radio Shack-Leopard-TREK the team lead.
Stage 2: Starting with the now traditional climb out of Aspen over Independence Pass and ending in Breckenridge, two late climbs were the wild card. Would they break up the peloton? They did, with 7 riders spreading out over less than a minute gap. BMC's Mathias Frank got enough ahead to take the win by 3 seconds over Garmin's Lachlan Morton, but Morton was in the group that had a 5 second lead after Stage 1 and took the race's overall lead by 3 seconds. The rest of the peloton got strung apart in the final kilometers, leaving lots of gaps with Joe Dombrowski losing a minute and Andy Schlek losing a minute thirty. The rest of the favorites are still within about 45 seconds. Morton takes the yellow and blue jerseys, Frank the orange jersey, and Sagan keeps the green jersey while Cooke keeps the red. BMC takes over the team lead.
Stage 3: Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs. In 2011 my wife and I saw the start of this stage going the other direction, leaving Steamboat heading to Breck. Rabbit Ears Pass was early that day, allowing the peloton to stay together. On Wednesday the pass will be the last big challenge before the finish. A long and steep decent will allow the race to possibly come back together but a breakaway that works together could stay free for the win. Odds are this is another day for Peter Sagan.
Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek. A slightly different route than they used going the opposite direction in 2011 (which we saw the finish of in Steamboat) but another tough day with an uphill finish at the end. The climbers are expected to get the win on Thursday going into Friday's time trial.
Stage 5: Vail Time Trial. The Coors Classic time trial returns after a year's absence. In 2011 Garmin's Christian Vande Velde (the 2012 race winner) was beaten by the now retired Levi Leipheimer by less than a second for the stage win. Odds are that the overall winner will probably be determined after this one, as the following two days don't offer great chances to gain time.
Stage 6: Loveland to Fort Collins. All new roads for the race on Saturday as they make their first trip to the northern part of the Front Range. The race gets to Fort Collins from Loveland by way of Estes Park, which is probably the best place to watch the race. Lots of climbing through the canyons to get up there and back. A climber might be able to make some time like Tom Danielson did last year on the queen stage but odds are the peloton will come back together for a final sprint, which means Peter Sagan.
Stage 7: Denver Circuit. The same circuit they used last year for the time trial, this time the whole peloton will ride together for 8 laps around the city, from City Park to Larimer Square and down Speer before finishing in front of the capitol as they have every year. This will be a pure sprint and almost certainly won by Peter Sagan.
With 5 stages to go, it looks like the likely favorites are BMC's Teejay Van Garderen, Garmin's Tom 'Tommy D' Danielson, Lachlan Morton, and Christan Vande Velde. Outside chances for Bontrager's Lawson Craddock, or Jamis-Hagen's Janier Acevedo, plus a number of young riders who are currently floating around inside a minute of Morton.
And if you don't know I'm a huge fan of Boulder-based Garmin-SHARP, so any of those guys winning would be fine by me.
OK, work, a fantasy football draft, and the USA Pro Challenge (more about that in a later post) have taken the time I'd usually use for my game recap this week, so this one is going to be shorter than usual. Quite simply the Rapids looked like the better team, played like they knew they were the better team, and put up a scoreline that showed they were the better team Saturday night. A 2-0 win over another playoff rival was huge.
Vicente Sanchez found Deshorn Brown who headed home his team leading 7th goal of the season in the first half. Edson Buddle got a lucky skip just after coming into the game to double the lead late in the game. On the other side of the ball the defense did a good job keeping the dangerous Whitecap forwards from getting good looks and the few times they did Clint Irwin came up with some big saves. Colorado picked up an important 3 points in the playoff race and ran their unbeaten run to a team-record tying 9 games.
My key to the match was the newcomers getting integrated. Torres struggled at times to get on the same page but Sanchez looked great.
The win and the loss by Seattle significantly helped our playoff chances.
Brown's 7th goals leads all rookies. The league record for a rookie is 11 by Damani Ralph which is probably out of reach by Brown unless he has a breakout game. 2nd best is 8 by Clint Dempsey though, and he could pass that.
Hendry Thomas gutted out the end of the game with a tweaked hamstring, but got through it. Looks like there was no long term damage.
Vicente Sanchez' play is stunning me. Not because he's that much better than anyone else, but given the Rapids track record of signing 30+ year old international strikers I wasn't expecting very much. Torres will come on I'm sure, but int he short term Sanchez looks like the steal of the mid-season transfer window.
Speaking of Torres, he had at least 2 great chances that he flubbed. First game though and still getting used to the team and altitude.
Klute and Wynne struggled a bit on the wings, but the forwards they faced int his game are some of the better ones in the league.
Tip of the hat to the West side crowd, who unprompted took up the C38 tradition of booing an opposing player who's drawn the crowd's ire, in this case former Rapid Jordan Harvey.
With the Rapids having next week off and with the USA Pro Challenge going on you'll probably see a break on Rapids posts here for a bit. Of course if there's any Rapids news I'll have something to say. ;)
Player of the Match: Clint Irwin. His saves kept us in the game when we needed a goal and kept the lead once we had one.
Tomorrow is the first of three big games against the Whitecaps in the final nine games of the season. It will also be the first appearance of the Rapids first ever Designated Player, Gabriel Torres. Torres and Pareja both said today that Torres is ready to play 90 minutes so I expect him to start. Game time tomorrow is 7:30 so the tailgate starts at 4:30. For those of you who can't make it, Altitude will be carrying the game.
SUSPENDED: FW Tony Cascio
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE YELLOW; DF Shane O'Neill; MF Nathan Sturgis
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOWS: MF Dillon Powers;
FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate
Mullan on the OUT list is unexpected, though I'm not sure he would have been named int he 18 anyway. Vancouver is only down 3 players to injury, and Miller is expected back from his injury, which is not good news for the Rapids given his history against the team. My guess at our XI:
Its hard to know for sure how quickly Pareja will work Torres and Sanchez into the lineup and Rivero back from injury, but I'm thinking we may see all 3 of them in the lineup tomorrow. With Buddle, Harris, and Cascio injured or suspended there are pretty of openings in the lineup. Castrillon and Sturgis would be the obvious starters if one of those three aren't starting. In the back I expect the Mera experiment is over again for now.
Key To Look For: Integration. Odds are that there are going to be a few new players tomorrow, how are they going to work their way into the team?
Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Torres and Brown. Torres gets an assist on Brown's goal. This is a huge game for the Rapids that they have to win. We're getting attacking help just as we need it and we're going to put it to good use. Vancouver will burn us for a goal but it won't be enough.
Sorry for the delay, long work day yesterday prevented me from doing my write-up. Needless to say there's a lot to talk about with this one. I'm going to dispense with my normal write-up and hit the important points (and there are a number of them.
In the 3rd minute Brown was 1v1 with Kennedy and badly shanked the shot. This turned out to be an omen for the evening.
5 minutes in German Mera failed to clear a ball, kicking right into another Chivas player, Drew Moor didn't step up, and Chivas scored off a bit of a blast to go up 1-0.
Off a corner in the 27th minute Chivas defender Purdy committed one of the most obvious handball's you'll see for a PK. Brown stepped up to face Kennedy like he had in the earlier match, but this time Kennedy was up to the challenge and saved the shot.
33 minutes in Gabriel Farfan committed one of the dirtier fouls we've seen this year. Instead of playing the ball he tried to take out O'Neill, stomping down on his planted shin. Luckily O'Neill's cleats gave way and he was able to stay in the game. Farfan was rightfully red carded.
Late in the half Cascio was given a yellow for a tackle that wasn't particularly bad, but Chivas sold by adding a couple of extra rolls.
Early in the second half Cascio went in with a high boot to play the ball and received a second yellow. Replay shows no contact was made.
In the 63rd minute Tristan Bowen spit at Chris Klute shortly after they had gotten tangled up in a tackle. He rightfully saw red.
The Rapids finally broke through in the 80th minute, with another great cross from Klute finding Rivero in the middle of the box. Martin snapped it into the upper corner to level the score.
Rivero's corner in the 87th minute was headed into the crossbar by Sanchez only to bounce on the line and deflect off a Chivas player into Kennedy's hands..
End result, a very disappointing 1-1 draw where the Rapids had all the chances but couldn't convert.
My key to the match was staying focused and not overlooking Chivas. Based on the first half that's exactly what we were doing, unfortunately.
This team did not look ready to play in the first half. They were disjointed and not engaged.
Another early goal from a defensive miscue. I like Mera's 1 on 1 defending stills but he isn't reading the game well. This is now two games in a row where he's been out of position on a goal.
Brown had an awful game, highlighted by his PK being stopped. It was the same shot he beat Kennedy on earlier this season, and Kennedy was waiting for it.
Some fans have questioned Brown taking the PK as a rookie. Of the 11 Rapids on the field at that moment, Brown had scored against Kennedy this season, Sturgis had converted his one attempt in 2010 for his only MLS goal before this season, and nobody else on the field had ever taken a PK in MLS. Given those choices, Brown seems to be the best choice.
Brown had at least 3 other great chances and came up empty.
That was still ahead of Castrillon, who crashed into Brown ruining one of those chances, or the red carded Cascio.
Cascio's red card was very weak. His first yellow card was a gift to Chivas and the second was clearly the ref looking to even up the teams. A bad move by Cascio to go in high like that, but that's not a second yellow if Chivas isn't already down a man.
I expect Farfan to get at least 2 extra games for that dirty tackle on O'Neill. It could have very easily blown his knee out or broken his leg. Bowen will probably also get an additional game for his spitting.
To his credit, Bowen tweeted out an apology for his actions.
Rivero made a good impact on the game coming back from injury, and his goal was top notch. Getting him synced up with Torres and Sanchez is the key to the rest of the season.
Mwanga was useless, again.
Moor had an unusually bad game, not something we could really afford with the number of other players having bad games.
Colorado outshot Chivas USA 26-6 but only 7-6 on target. Torres can't play soon enough.
We also outposessed Chivas 70-30.
So, just a horrible result for the work we put in. The two points lost combined with the draw last week really puts us behind in the playoff race. We can't afford anything but a win next week and we have to win the remaining three home games after that. They're all must wins and we're probably still going to need another 2-4 road points on top of that.
Player of the Match: Vicente Sanchez. His insertion at halftime completely re-energized the team and added bite to our attack. He moves fast with the ball, has a nose for goal, and wants to take the game to the opponent. Hard to know if this was a one time thing or not, but I liked his first appearance.
After an eventful week its time to get back to playing soccer. The Rapids have an extra rest day this week, not playing until late on Sunday. I expect some tired Rapids fans at work on Monday, as kickoff isn't until 9pm Denver time. The game will be on Altitude and the viewing party, featuring the Rocky Mountain Cup, will be at the British Bulldog.
SUSPENDED: MF Hendry Thomas
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE YELLOW; DF Shane O'Neill
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOWS: MF Dillon Powers; MF Nathan Sturgis
FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate; FW Gabriel Torres - Waiting on P-1 visa
The Rocky Mountain Cup draw in the rain took a toll on the team. Both Budd;le and Harris added to the injury report. Hard to consider Buddle a loss though. Chivas has 2 players out, 2 players questionable, and Carlos Bocanegra suspended. My guess at our XI:
Our injury issues up front will make Sanchez a starter in his first game as a Rapid. Cascio could also start up front but I think he'll be held as a possible sub. Rivero will also be a sub probably. If Torres visa shows up in the next 24 hours that changes everything, but safe to assume it won't. He did travel with the team to at least play in Monday's reserves game.
Key To Look For: Staying focused. Easy to overlook what appears to be the easiest game left on our schedule but that's when teams get burned. Knock Chivas out early and they'll fold.
Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Brown. Now that Deshorn has found his scoring boots he continues to pressure Powers int he Rookie of the Year race. Dan Kennedy and the oddly late start time will keep this one close though.
Its done. The Rapids just officially announced Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres as the club's first Designated Player in its history. It took an extra 2.5 weeks then originally rumored, but they got it done. Torres scored 5 goals (including two against Mexico) at this year's Gold Cup an should be able to hit the ground running as soon as he receives his P-1 visa. My guess is that we see his debut next weekend at home against Vancouver but if they've been working this for a while maybe they can get the visa by Sunday night's game. He's a Designated Player through a combination of the transfer fee and his salary. Huge signing for Colorado and while they stumbled a couple of times from lessons they didn't learn form the Rivero saga, the important thing is that they got the job done. A big day in the history of the club.
He landed at DIA a little over an hour ago and is currently at the Dick meeting with the Rapids. The deal has to be signed and the ITC delivered by midnight at the USSF offices in Chicago, so 11pm Denver time. I'll have a longer post when the deal is done, or barring that, tomorrow when its fallen apart.
(Though if the deal gets done at 10:59pm, expect my post tomorrow)
Yes, I know everyone is talking about the Torres rumors, but with the number of twists and turns that's taken, I'm going to wait until either Torres is standing in the Dick with a Rapids scarf and his ITC or the transfer window closes before I comment.
What I want to talk about tonight is the final 10 games and where we are in the playoff race. Right now on points we are in 2nd place, just 3 points behind FSL for first in the West and the Supporters Shield (NY is tied with FSL). We're flying, right? Wrong. We're that high because we've played more games than any other team in the league. In pts/game we're actually 6th in the west at 1.46, .04 pts/game behind LA and Vancouver for the final playoff spot.
That should be grounds for concern, and is, but not as much concern as you might think at first glance. There are 3 main reasons for that:
Since we started the season on a 5 game winless streak with only 2 draws we've been playing at 1.74 pts/game over the last 19 games, which would be the best average in the league over the whole season.
Games in hand are only possible points, not guaranteed points. The good news for the other teams is that they have those games in hand, the bad news is that they have to fit more games into a shorter amount of time. For Portland and FSL, they also have to play their USOC semi-final tonight with the winner having to play the final. LA and San Jose have to fit in their CONCACAF Champions League games in on top of their league schedule. Meanwhile the Rapids only have one midweek game left, right before one of three bye weekends. That gives Colorado a nice steady stream of games with plenty of time to rest, recuperate, and stay healthy and focused.
A number of the teams with games in hand on us will make them up by playing each other, which means either they each get 1 point or one team gets 3 and the other gets 0. 1 or 0 points won't help a team stay above a 1.5 pts/game average.
Does that mean we're free and clear? No, we have a tough schedule left. After this weekend's game @Chivas USA every game we play will be a game against a team fighting for a playoff spot (With the possible exception of the Oc. 9th game @SJ, they may be out of it by then), and only one of them is against the Eastern Conference, our trip to KC on Aug. 31st. So almost every point we drop is a point being given to one of the teams we're competing against.
Right now I would say that Portland and FSL are going to make the playoffs and Chivas USA and San Jose probably won't. That leaves LA, Vancouver, Seattle, Dallas, and Colorado competing for 3 spots. The way Dallas is free-falling they're probably an underdog to make it while LA seems to be getting stronger. Seattle just got much better with the addition of Clint Dempsey, but with 4 extra games to play they may run into fitness issues. This could come down to Vancouver and Colorado for the final playoff spot, and those two teams play 3 times in the Rapids last 9 games, twice in Colorado.
I'm not yet confident that we'll make the playoffs. I am confident that if we keep playing the same way we have since April started, we'll make the playoffs. That means 17 points in 10 games.
This afternoon the Rapids made the Sanchez signing official. He joins the team from Nacional and he appears to be very interested in helping with the youth movement that Pareja is putting together. He'll be available for selection as soon as his visa and ITC paperwork is done, possibly as soon as this weekend. Personally he could go right into the lineup in place of Buddle and that would be fine with me.
Still no official word on what's going on with Torres. Reports are that his current club, Zamora, a Mexican club, and the Rapids are still in the running. Deal has to be done by the end of business Thursday though as that's when the transfer window closes.
We got the Cup! It was a hard fought 2-2 draw where the Rapids really should have had a win, but a draw was all we needed to get the Cup so mission accomplished. It didn't start pretty though. Just 77 seconds in FSL was up 1-0. Gil found the gap between Klute and Mera on the left side, getting the ball to Beckerman on the endline. Grabavoy was left wide open in front of goal so it was an easy cross from the former Rapid to him to put the visitors in front. The lead didn't last long as 7 minutes later my prediction of a Caribbean rookie goal came true. Wynne flicked an Irwin goal kick on with his head and Deshorn Brown outraced and outfought former Rapid Nat Borchers to get a flying foot on it and got it past an onrushing Rimando to get back to a level score.
Sadly that didn't last either. In the 20th minute Moor took down Findley in the box. Another PK chance for Saborio. Just as the teams were lining up for the kick though lightning struck northwest of the stadium and the refs immediately put the game into a lightning delay. We all headed up into the concourses for an hour while the electricity cleared. In the process the heavens opened and it started to pour. The rain would continue until about the 70th minute.
After the unexpected delay the teams lined up for the kick again. Irwin guessed right but Saborio hit a prefect PK for the 2-1 lead. Things were looking bad at this point as the Rapids only had 1 shot on goal the rest of the half. It was a great long distance laser from Buddle but Rimando was up to the task. FSL wasn't any better, with only a long shot to show for their effort.
After the expected halftime break the game flipped. Both teams were forced to make an injury sub before the expected halftime and FSL losing Morales (Colorado lost Harris) was a big change that the Rapids took advantage of. For the first 15 minutes or so the Rapids were just hammering at the door but couldn't break through. At half they had brought in Castrillon for Wynne and that seemed to really up the pressure. They then lost Buddle in the 55th minute to injury, bringing in Cascio. In the 70th minute the planned sub paid off. Powers hit a great diagonal through ball to Klute deep in the corner. Chris one-timed the ball across the front of goal where Castrillon was flying in and handcuffed Rimando by heading it just inside him on the near post while he was leaning far post. 2-2 and the Rapids were back in the Rocky Mountain Cup lead.
The Rapids weren't done, wanting all 3 points. They had 4 shots on target after the 80th minute, forcing Rimando into big saves each time. FSL had one last chance that Irwin had to dive to save just before the final whistle but he kept it out and the Rapids claimed the Rocky Mountain Cup, at home for the first time.
My key to the match was bringing the Cup home. Just to make sure, I had to check the Cup out myself.
Thanks to C38 Grand Poobah and C10 member Mark Bodmer for the pic
Just an amazing game. A 62 minute delay due to lighting, pouring rain, Rapids coming back from a deficit not once but twice, and the raising of the Rocky Mountain Cup at the end.
Drew Moor really showed he's the leader of this team at the end of the game. He immediately sprinted over to 108 screaming and just smashed the signboard with his foot. We'll probably be able to see a pretty good dent in it when we go back for the next game.
As the captain he was the one who got to accept the trophy from the fans and raise it. As he did the lid fell of and smashed the Grand Poobah in the face, cutting his lip. As he said in his Facebook apology to Mark, both the players and fans bleed for this team. :D
All that said, stupid tackle by Drew to draw the PK. Mera was in postion to cover and he didn't need to dive in like that.
I think the forced back line change of putting Mera in and pushing O'Neill forward to cover for the suspended Thomas cost us on both goals. Wynne clearly had no idea Grabavoy was his man once everyone shifted to the left to deal with the threat.
Nice job by Brown to finally beat a keeper in a break-away situation. That gives him the team lead in goals with 6.
Klute picked up his team-leading 6th assist on the Cup winning goal, while Powers moved into 2nd with his 5th.
Outside of the great first half shot, Buddle was a waste. Not only that he had two mind-numbingly stupid fouls that showed he's not mentally in the game and just doesn't care. Time to send him to the bench if we sign Sanchez or Torres, or maybe just for Castrillon.
I couldn't watch the 90th minute free kick by FSL that took place in front of 108, even going so far as to turn my back to the field. That's exactly the type of set play that FSL has used to stab us in the heart in these type of games in recent years.
Cascio finally got a couple of his long shots on target. He's a danger if he can keep doing that.
All time the Rapids lead the series with FSL 10-9-9. Pretty even.
Player of the Match: Jaime Castrillon. Really, I have to explain this?
The yahoos from west of the mountains have invaded again sadly. Tomorrow we'll get another chance to send them home without the Cup. Its simple, if the Rapids get any points out of the game, they also get the Cup. If the Rapids get nothing Salt Lake takes the Cup home with them again. Oh, and its also first versus second place in the West, but that's not as important as the Cup. Game time tomorrow is an earlier 6:30pm kickoff so the game can be part of NBC's MLS Wraparound show (think MLS's version of NFL Red Zone) and Flemming and 'Celo will have the call on Altitude. Tailgate with Polygamy Porter Pork Sandwiches starts at 3:30.
OUT: DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Kory Kindle (L ankle sprain); DF Brian Mullan (R knee): MF Martin Rivero (L quad strain)
SUSPENDED: MF Hendry Thomas (2 games)
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOWS: DF Shane O'Neill; MF Dillon Powers; MF Nathan Sturgis
FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate
Injury report got a bit worse this week. Rivero's addition in the big one, no way he's in the 18 tomorrow according to reports. Salt Lake has 6 players out injured and 3 suspended, so we're getting them at a weakened state. My guess at our XI:
Yes, I am predicting we'll wear the blues at home again tomorrow. Players tend to be superstitious about such things and we've gotten 4 points in two games against FSL this year wearing the blues. I prefer the burgundy, but what can you do. If LaBrocca's groin strain keeps him out then we could see Castrillon, or O'Neill could move forward, pushing Sturgis up, and slotting Mera in.
Key To Look For: Bring. It. Home.
Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Brown. Much like a former Caribbean rookie that won us the Cup on a goal in the final game of the season, Fabrice Noel, Deshorn Brown will bring it home after a hard fought game. This assumes FSL puts out as strong a lineup as they can. If they decide to punt on the game to rest players for their USOC semifinal on Wednesday then the Rapids win 2-1 on goals from Brown and Sturgis. Either way without Thomas I don't see a shutout happening.