Sunday, February 23, 2014

Desert Diamond Cup Midpoint recap

The drama of this week put me off of tracking the Rapids first two games down in Tucson so let's get caught up.  First on Wednesday Colorado played Chicago in their first Cup game.  The starting XI was:

Edward - Watts - Moor - Klute
Guzman - Galindo
Sanchez - Hairston - Eloundou

Still very much a preseason lineup as some players (Edward, Guzman, Galindo) are still being evaluated for roster spots while others (Eloundou, Hairston, Berner) are being evaluated for how they fit with some of the likely starters.

Eloundou was active in the first half but the Fire scored first in the 37th minute on was supposed to be a cross that surprised Berner by turning into a shot on goal.  3 minutes later a failure to clear the ball led to the fire doubling their lead heading into the break.  For the second half we saw:

Sturgis - Wynne - VDC - Serna
Mari - LaBrocca
Chavez - Hill - Galindo

Mari and Galindo were the only unsigned players in this bunch (and you have to figure that both of them are under serious consideration for a contract already) so this lineup was more about figuring out who works well with who.  In the 65th minute Buddle came in for Galindo, with Torres moving back to the left and Buddle taking the top position.  3 minutes later Torres took advantage of his new position to pull one back for the Rapids off an assist from Serna.  Colorado pressed to tie the game but couldn't find the back of the net.  Generally the Rapids looked better in the second half creating many more chances.

Yesterday afternoon in game 2 it was a preseason Rocky Mountain Cup matchup as the Rapids faced FSL.  The starting XI:

Sturgis - Wynne - Moor - Klute
Mari - LaBrocca
Chavez - Hill - Serna

Getting closer to a in-season starting XI, with Mari as the only trialist and at least 5 guys who I would expect to start on Opening Day.  FSl was the better team in the first half but neither team looked particularly good.  From reports it appears to be the worst half the Rapids have played this preseason.  This led to a 0-0 score at the break. The Rapids made no changes right after the break and FSL got their best chance of the game, with Irwin making a diving save in the 49th minute to deny Morales.  In the the 61st minute the Rapids brought in Eloundou and Powers for Chavez and Hill respectively.  At the same time FSL made a complete 11-man line change, and that's when the Rapids took over the game.  After that point FSL never threatened and in the 69th minute Brown took a cross from Serna and put it past FSL's backup keeper for the 1-0 lead.

Immediately after the goal the Rapids subbed everyone but Eloundou and Powers, leaving them with:

Edward - VDC- Watts - Burch
Guzman - Hairston
Eloundou - Powers - Torres

BTW, this was Powers first game action of the preseason, good to see him playing again.  The Rapids continued to create chances but couldn't extend the lead, settling for the 1-0 win.  Once again proving that the Rocky Mountain Cup is where it belongs.  ;)

After 2 of 3 games the Desert Diamond Cup standings are:
Chicago: 6
Chivas USA: 4
Colorado: 3
New England: 1
FSL: 1
Tucson FC: 1

The final round of matches are on Wednesday, FSL - Tucson, Chicago - New England, and Chivas USA - Colorado.  With a win the Rapids will qualify for the final against Chicago on Saturday, otherwise they'll play in the 3rd/4th place match with a draw, or either the 3rd/4th or 5th/6th place match with a loss (all played on Saturday).

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