Saturday, July 31, 2010

Colorado Faces RED HOT Dallas

I really hate the phrase "must-win games" because it makes the games seem even worse when you inevitably lose them, but this game against FC Dallas and the following game against the San Jose Earthquakes are inching dangerously close to must win territory. Colorado is currently tied with San Jose for 4th in the west, San Jose having a game in hand. FC Dallas has been surging with win after win recently, sitting with sole possession of 3rd place. If the Rapids want to make the playoffs, they're going to have to beat those guys tied with and in front of them; especially considering the fact that the two teams at the top of the table - LA and Real Salt Lake - don't look like they'll be dropping any time soon.

Conor Casey will probably play, his horrible looking head injury (did they really have to list it as a SCALP LACERATION? Eeew.) apparently is healing quite nicely. Good thing too, the Rapids offense needs as much help as it can get these days.

Dallas traded Colorado a former first round pick in Left-back Anthony Wallace yesterday, which should make for even more fun intrigue on the game. It starts at 2 PM Mountain Time, a time in which I will have to be at a wedding. My game recap will probably be shorter than usual as well as later than usual as a result.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rapids Trade for Wallace

The Rapids traded a couple of draft picks to future opponent FC Dallas for Left Back Anthony Wallace earlier today. Wallace was Dallas' first pick in the 2007 draft, but hasn't seen the playing time he'd prefer in Dallas recently.

The trade will send the Rapids 4th pick in the 2011 draft as well as a conditional one in 2012.

Colorado has been having offensive issues to be sure, but the defense has been breaking down recently a lot more than they were earlier in the year, Wallace should help provide competition and help to shore up the left side a bit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Short Scouting Report: FC Dallas

FC Dallas is a good example of the old adage "A team need not be fantastic, but only need to get a run going at the right time." In this case, the second half of the season would be that time for FC Dallas. In fact, you could make the argument that the Texans have had the exact opposite season as the Rapids have had.

In their first 10 games, Dallas only managed two wins, including going six straight without a win to start the season. Since that bad stretch in their first ten, FC Dallas has put together a six game unbeaten run. Combine that great stretch with their affinity for getting draws this season and they've put together a surprising 6-2-8 record which is good for third place in the West.

Dallas' secret has been having a great all around team, as opposed to a superstar with supporting cast. They don't have a Juan Pablo Angel-esque superstar to score for them every game, but they certainly don't have the only-a-couple-scorers syndrome that the Rapids have come down with. Dallas has three players with four goals, and a player with three as well. A smattering of their players have put themselves on the scoreboard in the assist column as well, leaving a great overall team with dangerous players everywhere. Can't leave any players open on Dallas' offense or you'll pay.

The Rapids face Dallas at The Dick on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Man U wins 5-1 over the MLS "All Stars"

I put "All Stars" in quote marks because I really think that wasn't the best team of players that could have been put on the field. Bruce Arena decided to stick with what he knew, which was a random smattering of Galaxy players including the one guy I thought shouldn't have been an all star at all, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The same Donovan Ricketts who let in a goal 30 seconds into the game.

No, that wasn't a typo. 30 seconds in the MLS All Stars were already down. It only got worse from there, as Manchester dominated the weak "All Star" group all night long. When Brian Ching scores your only goal and you're supposed to be a showing of the best of the best, something it wrong. Either way, it's only an exhibition match and doesn't decided home field for the finals or anything - hello MLB! - so it's really water under the bridge.

Predictably, America's large smattering of Manchester United bandwagoners has been using this game as fuel for their "MLS is a garbage league" arguments. When confronted by the fact that they lost to a 10 man Kansas City team in a game where the refs were practically wearing red, they were unable to be reached for comment.

It's All Star time!

Today's the day! We get to watch the best of the best in the MLS - according to fan voting and Bruce Arena, anyway - take on Manchester United. Man U just finished an around the USA tour of sorts, taking on a handful of MLS squads, defeating all excepting Kansas City.

The whole "MLS vs. Good Teams From Around The World" idea has been around several years, with the MLS all stars surprisingly winning most of the match-ups, against big clubs like Celtic FC and Chelsea. The only one they've dropped was against Everton last year, a game lost in penalty kicks of all things.

For a more home-oriented rooting interest you can tune in to see Rapids defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz be his usual awesome self, assuming he gets any playing time. Either way, should be an entertaining match-up. Go MLS!

You can see the game at 6:30 MT on ESPN2.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Looks like Conor Casey will be OK

Per the Rapids' twitter account.

Conor Casey suffered a really bad looking head injury in the 92nd minute of the game against the Sounders, bleeding heavily out a large gash near the top of his head. Him being OK for Saturday is a big relief considering how important that game is to the Rapids' playoff hopes.

If he had hair it probably would have looked even worse!

Rapids U-17 team loses to DC United, 2-1

Good to see the youth is going the way of the big boys team. (Sarcasm yay!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Potent Quotable 7/25/10

When you have "6" defenders out there and you give up 2 goals in 20 mins, somethings not working. #RapidsSoccer

- God, Country, Soccer's twitter.

It's time for Rapids Mad Libs! (also Seattle Wins 2-1)

Today, the Colorado Rapids took on TEAM at STADIUM. The Rapids started out slowly, only getting NUMBER LOWER THAN FIVE shots on goal throughout the first half. TEAM on the other hand came out incredibly strong, scoring the first goal a mere MINUTE into the game.

The Rapids equalized when RAPIDS PLAYER scored a goal that made the otehr team just look silly, but couldn't get on the board after that, as the offense remained stagnant from that point on. In the MINUTE AFTER 60th/nd/rd minute, RAPIDS BENCH PLAYER subbed on, giving the Rapids a sudden offensive spark that was unseen in the first half. The Rapids got shot after shot, culminating in the worst miss of RAPIDS PLAYER's career, as he had the entire defense beat and METHOD OF MISSING THE NET rather than burying it. Despite the SYNONYM FOR "A LOT" of shots at the goal in the end, the Rapids couldn't finish any of them and wound up on the wrong end of the result once again.

Sound familiar? Yeah. I might just use this for every game recap from now on!

Oh yeah, and Seattle won 2-1 on a pair of goals from their star Zakuani. Omar Cummings managed probably the best Rapids shot this season on his goal... and Casey got severely slammed in the face at the end, his head was bleeding everywhere. Not good on pretty much all accounts, this one.

One final note - what happened to using the 4-4-2? All we heard all week was people talking about the switch to the 4-4-2 and how much offense it was going to nab the Rapids and they came out in that same old offense-less 4-5-1 after all. The hell happened there?

Man of the Match: Omar Cummings. Had a beautiful goal and a couple of other great chances, he was the only player showing much of anything today.

Goat of the Match: Matt Pickens. I love the guy, but the first goal was his bad as he dove by one that smacked the post and hit him in the back, ricocheting in. He didn't look very strong in net on the second goal either.

Colorado heads up Northwest to take on Seattle

This next three game stretch is the most important set of games for the Rapids all season. In succession they take on the Seattle Sounders, the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas, three Western conference rivals as well as three teams very close to the Rapids in the standings. Three losses and we're almost guaranteed to be looking at another season of no playoffs. Three wins and the playoffs are pretty much in the bag. Anything in between is debatable, but the point is points. The Rapids need them and they need them now. They'll have to start with Seattle.

The Rapids met the Sounders earlier this season, way back in May. Conor Casey netted the only goal of the game to get the 1-0 shutout in front of a sellout crowd at The Dick, but the stakes are a bit higher this time around. The Rapids are currently in a tie for 4th place - and a playoff berth - with San Jose with 23 points , holding a slight lead in goal differential as the only separation between the two. Not far behind are the Sounders and the Houston Dynamo, tied for 5th place with 19 points a piece.

So yeah, this game is pretty important. Nobody is quite sure who will start at midfield in the Rapids new 4-4-2 look, although I've thrown in my guess. As long as the Rapids can net a few goals and keep their mistakes to a minimum - how about LESS than one this time, boys? - they can come away with a win against an underperforming Sounders team. God forbid the 4-4-2 can't net any goals though. In that case we're sunk.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jamie Smith is apparently the most popular person ever

According to this poll, anyway.

Personally I already said why I don't think Lopez should get the start and it's really between Smith and Thompson... but Colin Clark? Seriously? Come on, guys.

Rapids U-17 team beats San Jose 3-2

Wouldn't that be a shame if they won the SUM U-17 Cup the first year it wasn't in their stadium?

Not really, it'd still be cool to know that our youth is good enough to beat everyone else's.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Short Scouting Report: Seattle Sounders

To say that this season has been a disappointment to the fans of the Seattle Sounders would be an understatement of unknowable size (we're talking godzilla size here, man). After making the semi-finals of the MLS Cup Finals and having a very respectable 12-7-11 record in their inaugural season, they've had a fairly blah sophomore year.

While still in the playoff hunt, the Sounders are stuck in 6th place of the Western conference with a 5-8-4 record and 19 points, with two more games played than the two teams above them, Colorado and San Jose. Their next two games are incredibly important, being against those two teams. If Seattle loses both their playoff chances will take a tremendous blow. An unfortunate bout of injury has struck Seattle this season; check out this injury report for Sundays game.

Despite their struggles this season, they do have a fantastic squad with big pieces like goalkeeper Kasey Keller and striker Fredy Montero. If they can add a couple more pieces, stop the injury bug from biting and get a bit more luck on their side, the Sounders could be looking at their first MLS Cup sooner rather than later.

The Sounders do have a trip to the semi-finals of the US Open Cup coming up, giving them a shot to defend their title from last year. That's right, Seattle in their first year wound up with more trophies than the Rapids have ever won. Makes ya feel good, eh?

Who will be the fourth midfielder for the Rapids this Sunday?

Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart asked me recently to give him my thoughts on who would be starting for the Rapids this Sunday against Seattle, and in what formation. Obviously Gary Smith has made it clear he wants to switch it up to the 4-4-2 that netted the Rapids their goal late in the game against the Wizards, but the line-up threw me a bit. Who will be starting?

The forwards were easy, Casey and Cummings. The defense was also fairly easy, with Earls, Moor, Wynne and Kimura being the obvious selections. Palguta could easily take Earls' position as he did last game, but I happen to be a fan of Earls and think Palguta had a forgettable outing against KC so I gave Danny the nod. The real question lies in the four men we'll see in the midfield.

Back in the 5-4-1 formation that the Rapids had been using so far this season, Omar Cummings was used often as a midfielder on the wing. Most likely he will be moving up to the second forward position along with Conor Casey, removing him from the conversation. Now, the way I see it there are three midfielders who have almost no chance of being left out of the starting line-up. The captain Pablo Mastroeni, all star Jeff Larentowicz and the third-leading goal scorer on the team, - along with being tied for having the most assists - Mehdi Ballouchy. There's a few people I think could start in the left midfield spot - the one I left open on my roster - including and mostly limited to:

Claudio Lopez - I would love to see Lopez starting. He has been a fantastic presence for the Rapids offense since returning from injury every time he has stepped onto the field. Unfortunately, I see his role on the team being a role-playing substitute for the most part so I doubt he will start this one.

Wells Thompson - Good wide midfielder, can do it all, even showed a little goal-scoring ability earlier this season when he netted two against KC in an open cup qualifier.

Colin Clark - Had a horrible game against KC, but at the very least was trying to get some offensive spark going. Might start if Smith believes in giving second chances. (heheh)

Jamie Smith - Underrated midfield presence, in my opinion. Very good with the ball at his feet, can make plays happen as well. Rarely shoots himself, which leads to some assists but no goals. Might fit well with the two men forward philosophy.

Personally, I penciled in Wells Thompson to my starting XI for Dave. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the names on that list starting on Sunday though.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rapids can get Sal Zizzo... with a bit of luck

The Rapids go into a mini draft with every other team in the MLS today to get fairly talented winger Sal Zizzo. Sal played quite a bit for the US Mens under 18 national squad, leading them to the quarterfinals of the 07 FIFA U-20 world cup. He has one cap for the senior squad as well. Any little piece could help the Rapids, so I won't complain if he ends up going to us.

The weighted draft gives the Rapids a 3.43% shot at him. The announcement of who will win his services will be made at MLS.com at 3 PM mountain time today.

EDIT: All right, so Chivas USA won the lottery for him. Number of people surprised the Rapids didn't win... zero.

Vote (read: cheat) for Matt Pickens

I'm starting to get the impression that voters across the MLS fanbases just don't really like the Rapids all that much. After Conor Casey's goal got landslided for goal of the week, the NAPA Auto Parts save of the week campaign has started, with 2 great saves in a row for Pickens in the nominations. Feel free to go there and throw down a couple hundred thousand votes.

Naturally, he's getting creamed with only 3.3% of the vote as of this writing. Can't win 'em all, I guess. Or any in our case, it seems.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Around the MLS 7/20/10

Today featured only Superliga action. If you want actual MLS action, you're going to have to wait until July 24th, until then it's pretty much Superliga and International friendlies.

New England 1 - Morelia 0
New England nabbed a 62nd minute goal from Marko Perovic to win group B of Superliga.

Chicago 1 - Pumas 0
Wilman Conde scored in the 35th minute and Chicago held on for the Superliga win.

Tomorrow there are a bunch of games on, including several Superliga match-ups and a friendly between Manchester United and Philadelphia.

Full Time Move to the 4-4-2?

Interesting article on the Rapids website today, indicating that coach Gary Smith might be switching full time to the 4-4-2 formation that netted the goal - and should have netted two - in the second half of the Kansas City game. 4-5-1 is probably my favorite formation but it obviously hasn't been working for the Rapids, good to hear Smith keeping the changes going to get some offense into the lifeless attack.

Nobody is quite sure who will be the starting four in midfield now, but ColoradoRapidsfan.com has a poll up seeing what we all think.

I'm personally hoping for the "Diamond" formation of 4-1-2-1-2 with our all star midfielder Larentowicz as the Defensive mid, Jamie Smith and captain Pablo Mastroeni on the flanks, and Mehdi Ballouchy as the top attacking midfielder, who can be subbed for Claudio Lopez. Either way, let's see some offense against the Sounders!

Vote (read: cheat) for Conor Casey

For the second time in three weeks, a Rapids player has a nomination for goal of the week.

He is currently getting creamed in the votes though, so if you plan on voting, use one of them illegal spamvotebots that will give him 1000 votes per second, m'kay?

(Note: Don't actually do that.)

Rapids mistake-filled defensive style: Breaking down the mishaps

I've written about how great the Rapids defense has been this season and why it is really the only reason that the Rapids have their 6-4-5 record rather than being down in the Western conferences basement. Looking back at the past few games though, a disturbing trend occurred to me. Starting at the New York game on the 4th in that torrential downpour, the other team has been scoring a goal a game. The trend I've noticed is not just that the number of goals against has been consistant, but the fact that for some reason the defense seems to choose one point every game to completely derp out.

For the layman, I'm saying that the defense commits one god-awful mistake every game that inevitably leads to a goal for them. New York, Toronto and even Kansas City didn't have that problem, so what's up with the Rapids defense and boneheaded errors recently? Taking a closer look at the errors, they don't have much in common. It just seems that the entire defense loses each other for a split second every so often in random ways.

New York v Colorado, 7/4/10:
The Play: Juan Pablo Angel, NY's incredibly dangerous forward and DP, is set in front of the net on a corner kick late in the first half. The ball comes in well from the corner and lands right on the foot of Angel. Also, nobody is actually marking Angel. He has a good 3-5 seconds of holding onto the ball - probably thinking "Holy $#&*, am I really this open?!" - before striking the easiest goal of his career into the back of the net from only a couple of yards out.

The Mistake: Nobody was marking Angel. NOBODY. He is the most dangerous striker on the Red Bulls roster and somehow none of the several men in the box thought to cover him before the corner was taken. Mistake part two occured when he got the ball. Matt Pickens could have charged him, but didn't. Every single member of the defense froze, possibly assuming that he would charge Angel. So no communication and bad set piece team defense led to a stupidly easy goal for NY.

Colorado vs Toronto, 7/10/10
The Play: Early in the second half, Toronto is driving toward the net. Chad Barrett winds up unmarked at the side of the net, punting an easy cross to Fuad Ibrahim, also wide open inside the box. Matt Pickens can only look on as Ibrahim sticks the easiest goal of his career into the Colorado net, the deciding goal of the game.

The Mistake: First of all, a turnover in front of the box by Wells Thompson literally right onto the foot of Barrett started the carnage off. Barrett is unmarked and even unchallenged by anyone until he has already gotten the ball off his foot. Standing between Drew Moor and Danny Earls is Ibrahim, who not only gets the ball with no trouble, but basically steps between them as they both seem a second late on their reaction time, neither one coming close to touching the ball. Again, bad plays at the back and no communication in the box lead to an easy goal.

Kansas City v Colorado, 7/17/10
The Play: Davy Arnaud sneaks through the entire Rapids defense, getting a breakaway and easily beating Matt Pickens on the one on one play.

The Mistake: The entire Rapids defense decided to set up an offside trap on the play in case Arnaud or another attacker decided to try and break through. Unfortunately they all - especially Scott Palguta - were about 3 steps too far up the field and nobody appeared to see Arnaud running through as the ball was hit. There were zero people anywhere near him as he sped through the line as a result, which made the offside trap incredibly easy to exploit for KC, and exploit they did. Pickens appeared shocked that he made it through so easily and as a result charged way too late, the ball was already halfway to the goal by the time he reached Arnaud's feet.

Don't get me wrong, the offense is most certainly to blame for the current lack of fire in the Rapids play. You have to wonder though, if just one man is in position to make the play on any of those bad mishaps, do the Rapids still lose or draw all three of those games? Is it just luck? Are the defenders just not playing with their heads in the game 100% of the time? Do the coaches not cover defensive positioning or something as much as they should be?

Worth a thought.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jeff Larentowicz is an All-Star!

Well color me surprised. I wasn't expecting any Rapids to make the team at all, but Jeff Larentowicz was announced just minutes ago as a back-up midfielder and I actually did a double-take when he showed up on the screen.

Jeff has quietly had a very productive and solid year as a defensive midfielder for Colorado, nabbing a goal on 18 shots so far this season as well as playing even more minutes than players like Conor Casey and the captain Pablo Mastroeni. He is certainly part of that fantastic Rapids defense this season, and goes through just about every game without having random mental errors like the rest of the defense seems to be occasionally prone to. (More on that tomorrow)

My favorite choice to be a back-up on the team was keeper Matt Pickens, who is also quietly putting together quite a year between the pipes for the Rapids. He unfortunately was by-passed as Real Salt Lake tender Nick Rimando made the team instead.

Congratulations to Jeff, knock Man U dead for us!

Monday Linkdump: Because there's nothing to do today but read

All Star Gaffer Arena Set Delicate Balancing Act - Apparently Bruce doesn't want his LA team getting tired so he might not play all four players that were voted into the starting XI. Ooh, poor baby.

Puebla Rout 10 Man Pachuca


Goats Salvage Point vs. Dynamo - A pair of recaps of the SuperLiga action yesterday.

Smith: Not Up to Standards vs. KC
- Gary Smith had a much longer talk with the team after the disappointing 1-1 draw to KC than he usually does.

Thierry Henry Suffers Fools Lightly - Good for a laugh, they actually ask him "So, you just won the World Cup?" in the interview. Welcome to America, Henry!

The Morning Kickoff - Talk about the All Star rosters final selections as well as some of the recent DP additions to the league. Also a bit about Ronaldinho joining the Galaxy, ugh.

Around the MLS 7/19/10

When I said yesterday was a slow day, it didn't hold a candle to today. Even on the international level, there's just nothing going on related to the sport.

Just gotta hope that a couple signings or something happens just so we have something to think about, I guess. Only real highlight of the day is that at 11 PM Mountain time, Bruce Arena will announce that he hasn't put any Rapids on the All Star team's 23 man roster.

Go watch some baseball.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Around the MLS 7/18/10

Slow day today. An international friendly, a Superliga match-up and only one actual match that counted in the standings to speak of.

Celtic FC 2 - Seattle 1
Seattle couldn't handle the perennial Scottish power after losing their keeper to a red card in the first half. Celtic went up 2-0 in the 64th minute with a strike from Patrick McCourt. Seattle struck back two minutes later, but by then it was already too late and the score stayed 2-1 for the rest of the game.

Los Angeles 2 - Washington DC 1
Landon Donovan started the game off with a 34th minute goal and it was just about all LA from there. United's young gun Andy Najar scored a goal to equalize in the 54th minute, but LA's Edson Buddle struck back quickly and LA kept possession for most of the game after that, keeping DC from the draw.

Houston 1 - Chivas USA 1
The Superliga 2010 group stage game started with Houston hoping for a victory to get to the semifinals. Lovel Palmer scored a very quick goal for Houston in the 6th minute, but Chivas kept getting good chances and finally buried one in the 74th minute, holding the draw until the end.

Mark Kiszla is at it again.

Shut up, Kiszla.

Nobody insults Rush and gets away with it around here!

Giggs to Colorado? Now there's an idea!

So apparently Ryan Giggs might be moving to the States to play a little MLS action before he retires from the game for good. (Thanks by the way to Brotherly Game, which is where I found the article.)

Yeah, I know, it's The Sun. Still, Giggs in America is a fun thing to think about. Despite his age he still has the talent to be a good player, especially around these parts.

Personally I would be more than all right if he chose to be a Rapid at the end of his career. And why not? The Rapids don't have any DP's at the moment so even if they get one during the transfer window this season they'll still have an open spot next year for him to rest in. Plus like I said a few days ago, the Rapids could always use the scoring help in their midfield.

Is he old? Yes. But hey, Henry is only 4 years his junior. Beckham is old as well, it didn't stop either of them from coming into the league to play a little ball at the tail end of their careers. As much as I hate the idea of MLS turning into the senior circuit of the EPL, the more older world-wide players show up into the league the more chances that younger guys will follow them there... at least in theory. Either way, Giggs as a Rapid sounds good to me.

Only real problem I can see is the money issue, he might be quite expensive for a player as old as he'll be. Maybe we can lure him with a free Copper Mountain ski pass and a fruit basket?

It's DP madness out there so get us in on it, Smith!

So it's starting to seem like Colorado is the only team that doesn't have any Designated Players on their team after all the DP signings recently. While that's not completely true - Real Salt Lake for instance don't have any - over half of the teams in the league have one and it's becoming the new, hip thing to do. (Do people still say 'hip'?)

So far there have been seven DP's signed by various teams in the league this season, several of them huge names;
* Landon Donovan - LA Galaxy
* Nkufo, BlaiseBlaise Nkufo - Seattle Sounders
* Branko Bošković - DC United
* Mista - Toronto FC

And the three most recent signings from the last couple days;
* Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls
* Omar Bravo - Kansas City Wizards
* Nery Castillo - Chicago Fire

As I said before, some of those are big names. Henry is the most prolific scorer in French national team history, Bravo is one of the best players in Mexico, etc. So why haven't the Rapids gotten in on the out-of-states action here? After watching the last couple of games I think it's obvious that if the Rapids want to avoid a summer swoon and miss the playoffs again after putting all that work in at the start of the year, they're going to need to grab somebody to boost the offense. Juan Pablo Angel has shown what bringing in a big name can do to a club, he's pretty much become the centerpiece of the Red Bulls great offense.

I'll go so far as to say that unless the Rapids can pick up another 6-10 goal player they will miss the playoffs. Conor Casey showed yet again in the KC game that he has a great finish, but frustratingly can't seem to utilize it more than once every so often. Omar Cummings is decent but will never be leading an offense to the playoffs. Claudio Lopez is getting older and can't play a full game anymore. Colin Clark seemed to be mentally stuck in that game and played horribly. The Rapids need some fire, and the only way that's happening in my opinion is with a big name DP joining the burgundy and blue very, very soon.

I don't care if you get Danny Butterfield from Crystal Palace, just get somebody!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Potent Quotable: 7/17/10

There's no doubt about it, Kansas were better than us for a good period of the game, you know, and on another day might have been out of sight; but in the end we could have won it.
- Gary Smith postgame



Couldn't have said it better myself, coach.

KC 1 Colorado 1; Settling for one point AGAIN.

The Rapids offense is reminding me of a quote from my favorite sitcom, the Drew Carey Show; "Is pathetisad a word?"

For the first 74 minutes of this game, the Rapids didn't deserve to win it. The offense could only get 3 shots anywhere near goal - none actually ON goal - in the first half of the game, and it took them another 15 minutes of second half play to get their fourth. If it weren't for Matt Pickens stopping the barrage of shots that KC were launching at the goal this game would have been a Wizards-oriented blowout. Fortunately he and the defensive back held their ground as well as they have all year.

KC scored on a blown offside trap by the Rapids defense where Davy Armaud just blew by everybody the second the ball was touched and scored an easy breakaway goal over a sprawling Pickens. After that the defense got more stout and only allowed a couple more easy shots, all of which Pickens was level to.

Similar to last week against Toronto, Claudio Lopez replaced Colin Clark - who had been playing borderline horribly in his first start in a while - and started to get the offense back on track all on his own... again just like last week. The Rapids finally did something when Casey got the ball in the box and had a great individual effort on his part to put the ball into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season. After that it was really all Rapids as they started to keep the ball for long stretches in the final third and get a good number of chances.

Conor Casey unfortunately kept up his old "I'm only allowed to have one good play per game" style of play as he borked a pathetically easy chance after he had beaten both the keeper and every defender on the field, hitting it left-footed into the post. Just another game where blown finishing would up killing the Rapids in the end. It really, really sucks when your team has every chance to steal a game in the final minutes and cannot only because of horrible execution. Make that move for more offense soon, Gary!

Man of the match: Matt Pickens. Several marquee saves, he was the only reason that the Rapids had a chance to make it a draw late in the game after stopping a flurry of great shots all game long.

Goat of the match: Colin Clark. Bad execution all around and no accuracy on his passes, he couldn't make anything happen in the all important left wing spot in Gary Smith's 4-5-1 formation. Until Claudio Lopez took his spot there was literally nothing going on on the offense.

Rapids vs. Wizards preview

This is the third meeting of the year between the Kansas City Wizards and the Colorado Rapids, with the season series at 1-1. On April 13th - which was actually three days after the first game they had played this year - Wells Thompson found the net twice leading the Rapids to a 2-1 win in a US Open Cup Qualifying match-up. Turns out that game really wouldn't matter as the burgundy and blue would wind up getting knocked out of the cup the next game by the New York Red Bulls.

In the game that actually wound up counting for anything on April 10th, KC won on a free kick from Kei Kamara in the 48th minute. At the time, the Wizards were at 2-0-0 and looking forward to a successful season, while the Rapids looked like they were going to stick to business as usual from last season, with a 1-1-1 record.

My how things change!

The Rapids currently sit at 6-4-4 and are establishing themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the league, especially now that Kosuke Kimura has returned to the squad. Offensively they're getting a boost with Claudio Lopez back as well and are looking toward a successful playoff run. The Wizards are now 4-8-3, stuck at fifth place in the Eastern conference and with very little chance of coming back to storm the league at the halfway point of the season.

The Rapids should have little trouble defeating the Wizards at The Dick, hopefully this game will spark some fight into the stalling offense as well since KC has the fourth worst Goal Differential in the league, a paltry -7. That combined with the stalwart defense the Rapids have put together since they and KC first met should give them more than a fighting chance to take this one. Mehdi Ballouchy is also back - if we never play in Canada again it will be too soon - which should give them a boost.

Time to start another unbeaten streak! Go Rapids!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Conor Casey didn't bring home the ESPY, The Rapids didn't send up an All Star.

The ESPY awards have come and passed, and there is still no silverware to the Rapids' names, even of the stupid ESPN award variety. Conor Casey was nominated for the Best MLS Player award after scoring 16 goals last season in less appearances than any other goal-scorer nominated, but he wound up a runner-up to Landon Donovan.

To be fair, I'm pretty sure this award belonged to Donovan the second he scored that amazing goal against Algeria to win Group D for the USA in the World Cup. It's only supposed to be for MLS achievements and I think that Casey's resume last year was equal to if not slightly above Donovan's but hey - these are ESPN viewers we're talking about here. I suspect a few of them just voted for Donovan because it was the only name they recognized.

In other "things we voted for" news, there are no Rapids players on the Starting XI for the MLS All Star team. Not incredibly surprising, considering Casey has not been himself this season - 6 goals but half of them on PK's is not all that impressive for an "offensive superstar" like himself - and there are better goalkeepers than Matt Pickens out there as well. Pickens is the one I was personally spam-voting for after his impressive year so far. Former Rapid Kyle Beckerman did make the starting XI, so good on him.

The rest of the 23 man roster for the all star team will be announced on Monday, although I doubt we'll see much burgandy and blue on there.

I'm sure the Rapids players will get over it quickly when they bring home the MLS Cup!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Henry is a Red Bull, who will be a Rapid?

The transfer window for MLS opened today, the only news so far being big name Thierry Henry coming to the Red Bulls. With the former Arsenal and Barcelona striker in the MLS, it leaves a ton of possibilities open for the rest of the league as to collecting players from overseas. Henry may be at the tail end of his career but he is sure to provide a spark to the men in red in New York even if he plays only a little better than he did for the French national team this last world cup. He does have the most goals scored in French history, after all!

The Rapids quite obviously are lacking goal-scoring. Coach Gary Smith has said that he's looking for some more 'umph' to the offense and that he is more than willing to pick up a new member of the team to do so. And it's hard to see why he wants more creativity on the offense, the Rapids have only scored 16 goals on the season in their 14 games, three of them coming off the PK.

The Rapids have had a stifling defense so far this year, giving up only 13 goals in 14 games, or 0.93 goals a game this season with the help of a strong back line and some inspired work by their keeper Matt Pickens. Considering how up and down the offense has been, that's a very, very good thing. So one can assume that if a move is made for the Rapids it won't be on the defense. Cummings and Casey make for a very good front line - when they're both forward, anyway - despite a bit of a lack of finishing touch. If a move is made it will most likely come in the midfield.

So who is available world-wide that the Rapids could use in the midfield? They already have decent creativity and depth there with Mehdi Ballouchy, Claudio Lopez et al. If they're going to find a man to climb the ladder and be an instant starter and instant contributor he'll have to be something special.

But as I asked - who will it be?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Raft the Burgundy Wave with me!

Welcome to Burgundy Wave, a blog dedicated to talking about Colorado's representatives of the beautiful game, the Colorado Rapids.