Saturday, September 11, 2010

Game Day Linkdump

A weekly list of things to read before game time.

The Mad Genius of Gary Smith - He's like a footy scientist

MLS Power Rankings week 23 - Despite passing Seattle in the standings, the Rapids are still 7th in the rankings

Denver Bid Meets With FIFA
- I doubt Denver will get the world cup, but that would be flippin' awesome regardless.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Defense is Looking Formidable... Again

The reason that the Rapids were able to keep themselves afloat earlier in the season wasn't the now new-found offense that the Rapids are currently enjoying, but one of the most stalwart defenses in the league. It's starting to look like after a bit of a hiatus, the defense might be back in business going into the late season stretch.

Drew Moor has been a solid rock at the heart of the defense all season long, along with Marvell Wynne. Both are fairly new to the team, with Wynne being added this season and Moor being brought in from Dallas for Ugo Ihemelu late in the 2009 season. Moor has yet to miss a game this season and has played all over the line when needed, showing amazing versatility while not losing any of his style even while being stopgapped around the back. Wynne has played at center and left as well, working out even better than Moor in some circumstances.

Julien Baudet's horrible start to August has been put behind him and in the past couple of games he has looked much better. New kid Anthony Wallace shut down Chivas USA in his first ever start, showing why Gary Smith brought him in for depth. Kosuke Kimura has been great ever since coming back from injury. Even Danny Earls and Scott Palguta have impressed in their short spurts from the bench in case of injury or fatigue. In short, everyone on the back line is getting hot at a good time.

The middle of the 4-4-2 that Gary Smith has been playing has been a double salvo of amazing defensive midfielders to bolster the defense. Jeff Larentowicz was good enough to grab an all-star berth this season and team captain Pablo Mastroeni hasn't lost a step in his old age and is looking primed to give himself the lead in the category of most games played as a Rapid of all time. You don't accomplish all of that by playing mediocre!

In their last three home games, the Rapids defense has given up a total of zero goals against. In the last five games counting ones on the road, they've only given up a total four. Depending on Marvell Wynne's health going into the next game, the Rapids might have the strongest line up on defense that they've had all season long. Even if Wynne is absent the Rapids defense will certainly be formidable.

They will be facing a hell of a test tomorrow as they face Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel - quite possibly the best gang of forwards in the entire league - when the Rapids take on New York in the big apple.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Short Scouting Report: New York Red Bulls

Few teams have been as busy as the New York Red Bulls have been this season when it comes to adding players, specifically players of the Designated variety.

Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez have been thrown into the mix in New York to add to the already potent squad featuring strong players like Juan Pablo Angel and former Rapids keeper Bouna Coundoul. This experiment has worked like a charm, with the Red Bulls tearing up the Eastern conference since then and managing to latch on to second place. They are one of only two teams in the East with a positive Goal Differential with a +3 on their side. They only have two losses in their last seven games and only four since that July 4th game mentioned above.

Last time the Rapids met New York it was in hurricane conditions at The Dick on July 4th, before the Bulls had added all their new superstars. It'll be a whole new look RB's on Saturday in the eyes of Coloradans.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Check for a bit of history on Saturday

Not the kind of history like Colorado finally bringing home its first piece of silverware not called the Rocky Mountain Cup - although they can't seem to win that either any more - but just a couple of interesting historical tidbits that you might see happen if the Rapids can snag a goal or two or even three on Saturday as the Rapids suit up for a game against the Red Bulls in New York;

*Conor Casey's score against Chivas put him only one goal away from getting 39 as a Rapid, which would tie him for the most goals ever scored by a Rapids player with Paul Bravo. Two more goals and he'll break the impressive record.

*Omar Cummings will set his own new regular season record for goals scored by himself with one more tally at some point in the season.

*A start or even an appearance against New York - and it's pretty much unthinkable that he doesn't get the start! - will give Pablo Mastroeni the all time leadership in most games played by a Colorado Rapid, passing Chris Henderson.

Hopefully we see all three of those historical events come to pass, if only because that would guarantee we've put two goals on New York!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cummings wins MLS Player of the week

Via the Rapids facebook page. Omar Cummings has been voted the MLS player of the week by the North American Soccer Reporters.

Cummings had two goals scored in the Rapids previous game against Chivas, and also caused the other goal via a ripped shot that was put in on the rebound by Conor Casey. Cummings becomes Colorado's first player of the week since way back in June of 2009 when Conor Casey won it. Cummings last got the honor of being player of the week in May of that year, this is his second time winning it overall.

Naturally when questioned on his win, he gave some credit to those magical shoes that he switched into during halftime of the game; “My touches were bad and off a little bit. So going into the second half, I thought why not change my shoes, change my attitude and be more aggressive - take some shots and try to score some goals.”

Congratulations, Omar!

The Dynamo weren't feeling helpful tonight

Houston managed to get 16 shots on San Jose tonight and still couldn't score more than a goal on San Jose, falling 2-1 to the Quakes. This unfortunately gives the Quakes three humongous points to tie them with Seattle for fifth place in the West.

The Rapids are still in fourth place but the rest of the West is gonna have to start losing some games if the Rapids want to keep up with that tough rest of the month coming up.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cummings getting into good late season form

Last week after his awesome two goal, one assist game against the Dynamo I wrote about Conor Casey and how his late season form would need to be similar to his form last season if the Rapids were to make waves in the playoff race. What I didn't consider was his counterpart, Omar Cummings. After Omar's fantastic two goal game yesterday at the Dick against Chivas USA it's begun to look like one of the most feared striker duos last season in the league might be back to their feared status.

Omar had been having a bit of a slow year up until around the San Jose game a couple of weeks ago, where it was his shot that was bobbled by Busch leading to the own goal. His finishing had been a bit questionable, showing only brief glimpses of his ability like his fabulous curling shot in Seattle. Being a wide midfielder in Gary Smith's original 4-5-1 formation wasn't helping him either.

Since the switch to the 4-4-2 and particularly since the San Jose game, his confidence especially at home has been through the roof. He now has three goals in the last two games, bumping his total up to eight total on the season, threatening to overtake Conor Casey as the team leader if he can get another two goals to beat Conor's nine.

Earlier in the year we were lamenting the fact that the big striker duo up front were the only ones on the team who could score, but weren't scoring much at all. Now both are on fire during the stretch run, on course to score well over ten a piece. Andre Akpan and Quincy Amarikwa might have to wait to get some more playing time.

Omar just better keep those new shoes handy, them things are magical!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Potent Quotable 9/4/10

"We want ten! We want ten!"

- The gang on the supporters terrace after scoring the third goal, hoping for seven more.

The Rapids run over some goats on the Highway, 3-0

Chivas never stood a chance. Colorado put in their third straight brilliant game at the Dick, winning another one 3-0 after last week's dismantling of Houston by the same score.

The first half passed uneventfully, with both teams looking a bit tired. The Rapids kept possession most of the half and got most of the shots as well. Matt Pickens - starting after all - made a fantastic acrobatic leaping save three minutes into the half but was largely untested after that throughout the game.

Omar Cummings changed shoes during half time, citing his bad play in the first half and hoping the new boots would improve his game. Boy did they ever; Omar wound up with two goals and another shot that Conor Casey stuffed in for the first goal of the game. Omar's two goals came in the 68th and 80th minutes as he simply destroyed the hapless Chivas defense both times combined with some clinical finishing.

After waiting for several weeks, Anthony Wallace finally got his first start as a Rapid made the most of it, playing brilliantly at left back in place of Marvell Wynne. I've been waiting for him to get his chance since the Rapids picked him up because of his first round pedigree and the talent he's flashed, and if he can keep it up against teams better than Chivas I think he's got a real shot at being a future star and every day starter on the Rapids defense. Andre Akpan also got his first Rapids action late in the game.

Conor Casey and Omar Cummings have now combined for six goals in the last two games, showing everyone again why they were known as one of the most feared striking duos in all of the league last season. What a time for them to regain their form, as Colorado goes into New York next weekend to face an incredibly potent Red Bulls team. Even drawing them will be a feat.

Man of the Match: Omar Cumming's shoes. Hey, I'm not giving ALL the credit to Omar. Those magical shoes must be kept safe! Lock them away with Gary Smith's magical tie! Honorable mention goes to Anthony Wallace, who replaced Marvell Wynne without a hitch.

Goat of the Match: Mehdi Ballouchy. His shooting was bad and he seemed to fall down whenever the ball got near him in the first half. Other than that he was still pretty darn good, as everyone is in a 3-0 victory!

Chivas' Baby Goats come to town

Last place Chivas USA are coming to Commerce City to try and salvage a few more points in their lost season. On the other hand, beating Chivas is incredibly important for the Rapids playoff hopes, still stuck in the logjam between 4th and 6th place in the West. The standings currently have the Pids sitting in 5th place, one point behind Seattle and two above San Jose.

Colorado is coming off of their best start of the season, a huge 3-0 victory over Houston featuring star striker Conor Casey regaining his form from last season with two assists and a goal. Chivas' fairly weak defense is ripe for the gashing with Omar Cummings' speed and Casey's re-new-found finishing. This game could just as easily be a trap game as it could a 4-0 blowout over the goats. Colorado have still only lost one game at home this season.

Starting defender Marvell Wynne has a very good chance of sitting this game out with, Matt Pickens is questionable for this game as well with the back spasms that were plaguing him during the game against Houston. Danny Earls or Anthony Wallace will probably start in the absence of Wynne at left-back, Scott Palguta could start as well if he was planning to start at center back. Ian Joyce will stand in if Pickens is absent.

Chivas' eleven losses are tied for the third most in the league, and they have only managed to get four draws as well, with a six game losing streak thrown in there in the middle of the season. Chivas lost their first game of the season to the Rapids, 1-0 at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Game Day Linkdump

A weekly list of things to read before game time.

Dynamo Implode Against Rapids - I'm only posting this because of how hilariously angry the guys at Dynamo Theory are, especially because Pablo only got a Yellow on that violent collision where Lovel Palmer KICKED HIM IN THE FACE.

Adidas and MLS Extend Partnership
- Hope you like those boring three-stripe-on-the-arm-every-one-is-the-same kits that the MLS uses for it's clubs, you'll probably be seeing them until 2018.

From The Pitch with Marcelo Balboa - Some lads from No Fan Alone talk Rapids with Balboa.

Rapids Century Mark Goals
- Cummings scored the 600th goal in Rapids history last Saturday. Here's the story of the other '00's that have been scored.

Usain Bolt: Future Manchester United Player? - wat

Charity Golf Classic a Big Success - Yay golf!

Bob Kraft Welcomes Stan Kroenke to MLS/NFL Owners Fraternity, Spanks Him Vigorously - Title speaks for itself on this one.

McBride retires - Give the old man a round of applause.

Friday, September 3, 2010

God save us: Wynne doubtful for tomorrow

Marvell Wynne was one of only three players who had played every minute of every game for the Rapids going into last week. Matt Pickens lost that streak last week as he was left off of the starting line up with back spasms. Marvell Wynne started, but left about halfway through the game, favoring his hamstring on the sideline. At the time it seemed inconsequential but it might have knocked the Rapids' best defender right out of this weeks game.

Wynne has been the most shut down defender on the Rapids squad during his first season in Colorado, playing out of his mind while starting every game. A huge chunk of the defensive mastery that got the Rapids their quick start this season can be placed on his shoulders. His hamstring injury may be keeping him out of the line up this week, according to Gary Smith;

“Marvel is a doubt for the weekend, he’s not done an awful lot this week, and the likelihood is that he may not be involved.”

Am I the only one who notices that they always butcher spelling on quotes at the Rapids website?

Assuming that Drew Moor stays in the center of the defense instead of going left like he has done in recent weeks, Wynne's most likely replacements are the still-in-waiting Anthony Wallace and his replacement on the left side from last week, Danny Earls. While neither will be able to hold the fort as awesomely as Wynne has so far this season, hopefully the Rapids newfound offense will be able to gash the weak Chivas defense for enough goals that it won't matter.

In other words, how about a repeat of last weekend, gang?!

Rugby Stars Love Our Altitude

Big shot English rugby star Danny Cipriani has been joining the Rapids as a guest at training sessions recently. Don't get excited and start to assume that Danny will be changing over to football and playing for a big name club like the Rapids, shunning the game of rugby forever more. No, he's really just here to play in the altitude.

“He wanted to take advantage of training at altitude and to engage in competitive sessions with our club as we prepare for the last part of our season.” That was Gary Smith on the whole thing, being surprisingly straight-forward about him only being here for our height.

Ain't that always the way love goes?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Short Scouting Report: Chivas USA

Well if ever there was a game that the Rapids should win, it's this one at home against our old friends the Goats from Los Angeles, otherwise known as the Clippers of MLS. All right, so they don't have anything close to the sordid, sad history that the Clippers have, and in fact they even made the playoffs every season since their putrid inception year. This season has been a bit of a downer for any fans of the Goats that aren't bandwagoning the Galaxy by now, though.

Chivas has only been able to peddle together 21 points at this point of the season, the lowest in the West beating Houston by a point; hilariously they'd actually be in 5th place in the East with that point total. Stay bad, Eastern conference! Anyway, their 11 losses is tied for 3rd worst in MLS, which included a particularly horrible and almost impossible to believe six game losing streak earlier in the year. Not even a draw between them, just straight losses in a row.

The Goats battled the Rapids earlier this season in their first game at the Home Depot Center. Colorado prevailed, 1-0. They're most recently coming off a loss to Seattle, 3-1.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Forward: September

It's September! Time for the leaves to start falling, the heat to start dying, and hopefully also time for the Rapids to start putting together a nice little string of wins to get themselves into the playoffs. Let's look ahead at this month and see what games we'll be watching - or avoiding, depending on how bad they start doing.

There are three home games and two away games to look forward to this month. Unfortunately, the two road games are some of the hardest games that the Rapids have left on the docket for the year.

Sept. 4th, vs. Chivas USA - A very winnable game at The Dick for the Rapids. The Rapids won their first meeting in the first game of the season, 1-0. Chivas is in last place in the West.

Sept. 11th, @ New York - This one is going to sting. The Red Bulls have improved markedly since the last meeting of these two teams what with all the new DP's that the Red Bulls have signed. They drew 1-1 in a torrential downpour on the 4th of July.

Sept. 18th, vs. New England - Another game against some easier opposition, drooping into 6th place in the East. The Rapids won 2-1 in

Sept. 25th, @ Salt Lake - Big rivalry game here in Salt Lake. Winning in Salt Lake is hard as it is, but this team is good. First meeting between the Rocky Mountain Cup rivals this season.

Sept. 29th, vs. Philly - They really should defeat this very weak Union team at home. Hell, they should have beat them in Philly. The two last drew 1-1.

My personal prediction for how this month will go is 2-1-2. The loss will come against New York, they'll beat Philly and Chivas and draw with New England and Salt Lake.