Monday, April 7, 2014

El Matador Spears The Whitecaps For Three Points

Last week I realized that readers of this blog probably don't need a full recap of the game.  By Monday you've probably watched it or seen enough of the highlights to make my recap redundant. Instead I'll just give my general observations of the game as a whole as well and revisiting my strategic consideration from my preview.  Let me know if you like the new model or want the recap back.

So my general observation of this game is that Vancouver was generally the better team but didn't dominate us.  They generally had the better chances and the stats back that up, with 7 shots on target to Colorado's 3 (and 2 of those were the goals).  Surprisingly to me Colorado actually had more possession but it felt like the Whitecaps did more with the ball when they had it, at least when it was 11 on 11.

My strategic consideration was how well the remixed back 4 did.  It wasn't as mixed as I expected, with Burch able to start, but Vancouver still got far too many good looks at the goal with only some great defensing form Irwin saving the game.

Other Observations:
  • Great to see Irwin back in net, and he showed why he's the starter with a couple of big saves, including one huge one when Moor was starting down a 3 on 1 right after we gave up the goal.  Without Clint we don't win.
  • There wasn't a whole lot of off the ball movement from either team in the first half.  That led to a bit of a disjointed mess.
  • The Vancouver goal was a bit of poor play from the Rapids but a lot of good play from Vancouver.  Its not often that both Drew Moor and Shane O'Neill will be beat on headers on the same play, but Kenny Miller certainly took advantage of some poor positioning from O'Neill and Mattocks is just faster than Moor (and most other defenders in the league).
  • Jose Mari's first goal should clearly win Goal of the Week and is a candidate for Goal of the Year.  ESPNFC picked it as the goal of the weekend from all the leagues they cover.  His 2nd goal was picked 10th on the weekend.
  • We now have goals that didn't start as PKs!
  • His bullfighting goal celebration has already gotten him the nickname El Matador from the fans, though El Torero is probably a more accurate name.
  • Of course the elephant (or perhaps bull) in the room is the red card to Laba.  I agree with some Vancouver fans who are complaining that a foul wasn't called on LaBrocca, many refs would have called it.  It wasn't so obvious that a play on was wrong though.  That doesn't excuse Laba's decision to grab a live ball while already on a yellow though.  If he had grabbed it as he went down as we see quite often I think he would have gotten away with it.  instead he waited  a beat until he knew he wasn't getting a call and LaBrocca was already approaching the ball to go on the counter.  That makes it a yellow as he broke up a Rapids attack.  If the ref had it to do over with 20/20 hindsight I bet he calls LaBrocca for the foul to avoid that situation, but once Laba put him in that spot he had to pull the yellow.
  • Oh, and there was a yellow on Laba in the 54th minute and then a second yellow for the hand ball in the 77th minute.  It was not two yellows for the same incident in the 77th minute as Fleming and Balboa kept repeating all the way through the post game.  Somebody off camera/mic really should have gotten them that info at some point in the final 20+ minutes of coverage.
  • Of course their inability to tell that Jose Mari's second goal actually went in is another indicator that KSE really needs to give the Rapids enough money to send Richard and Marcelo to away games.  When they don't have any better view than we do at home it makes them hard to really enhance the broadcast. 
  • Piermayr was quiet and solid in his first start for the Rapids, which is the kind of result you want from a new defender.
  • Torres had a great overhead kick that put Brown in for a shot that he missed by that much (tm Maxwell Smart).  Had Brown finished it Torres' assit might have made it a Goal of the Year candidate.
  • It feels like both Torres and Brown are this close to putting it all-together and going on a tear, hopefully they get over that hump soon.
  • Charles Eloundou!  I liked his energy and effort off the bench.  I'd start him before I started Hill again, who was largely invisible.
  • 4 points in our first 2 road games is almost a quarter of the points we got in 17 road games last year.  Nothing to complain about there.
Man of the Match: Jose Mari.  This really should be split between Irwin and Jose Mari, but you can't not give it to somebody who scores two goals of the quality he did.  That's a quick way to becoming a fan favorite.  Ole!

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