Keys Going In:
The last game before the break. The Rapids have an opportunity to hit the break with their 4th consecutive win.
- Are they able to replace Pablo without impacting the chemistry they’ve built.
- Can they continue to control the ball and limit Fire chances.
- Finish, Finish, Finish
I wondered if Coach Smith would keep the same formation and insert Ross LaBauex in Pablo’s spot. That would be risky as Ross had not started an MLS game but it may be more risky adjust to losing Pablo and changing the formation between Saturday and Wednesday.
How did they do against the Keys:
- GS decided to keep the shape and formation and used Ross in Pablo’s spot.
- The Rapids possession was broken up by solid midfield defensive play by the Fire combined with the Rapids failure to exploit the wings. Further, the Rapids gave up another set piece goal with a poor wall performance and the defense completely fell apart in first half stoppage time to give up the second goal.
- Omar hit the post, Casey messed up a great pass in front of the goal with a mis hit volley. Once again, the Rapids created enough chances, just failed to finish
Player Ratings (1-10, 10 being perfect):
Defense - Not one of the teams better efforts. Hampered no doubt by Baudet’s injury in the 5th minute. A poor foul by Moor led to the Fire’s first goal and on of Earls many over reactions, along with a missed mark, accounted for the second.
- Pickens – 8 – Played a great game, maybe his best as a Rapid. Didn’t get a nine only because he punched away balls, allowing more possession and chances for the Fire instead of catching the ball and giving the Rapids a chance to regain possession and shape.
- Moor – 7 – His foul led to the free kick goal. Other then that, played a pretty good match. Did well to move the ball out of the back without rushing.
- Baudet – NR – Has a couple weeks to recover, I hope the injury isn’t serious.
- Wynne – 8 – Very solid game by Marvell. Rarely got beat and broke up lots of plays and, as usual, covered a lot of ground defending and attacking.
- Earls – 5 – Not a good game for Danny. Got beat a lot by lunging and poor tackling decisions deep in the defensive end. Did well to move forward and could have had an assist on a great feed to Casey. But defense is his main job and he gets a 5.
- Palguta – 7 – I’m not sure if Pappa was his man on the second goal, but other then that, played well in his most extensive time on the field this year.
Midfield - Couldn’t solve the Fires midfield defense and appeared reluctant to use the wings. They were able to control play a bit more in the second half but I can’t help but wonder if that was more due to Chicago letting up a bit with the lead.
- Clark – 4 – Got his second start in a row but was not a factor in the game. His crossing was inconsistent, at best and rarely tried to challenge the Fire defense. We may see Smith in his spot after the break.
- LaBauex – 6 – I thought he looked calm and confident. Distributed and defended well. Coach Smith may not have seen it the same way and replaced him with Thompson to start the second half. We shall agree to disagree
- JL – 7 – Did reasonably well to control, defensively, the midfield. The fire attacked down the wings so wasn’t tested that much.
- Mehdi – 6 – His quick reaction (have I ever used that phrase with Mehdi?) when a Fire player tripped created the first goal. He also had a great pass to Omar in the second half which Omar put off the post. In between was between very ineffective and not so effective. I’m letting those two plays keep his rating above 5.
- Thompson – 5 – Showed hustle between the 18′s but didn’t never did much to create chances.
- Smith – NR – Another great pass. A nice cut to open himself up then looked up (Colin, did you notice that) to spot Conor. I’m not sure he had more then 2 other touches so no rating.
Forwards -Note – I keep putting Omar in as a forward even though he plays more of a outside mid. I do so because he gets forward much more then the other midfielders. Conor scored last week and this week, Omar scored this week off an assist from Conor. Could they be getting back in form?
- Casey – 7 – Conor, while missing a couple of solid chances again, played an overall solid game. He made some nice passes, not just on Omar’s goal, but some nice touch passes throughout the game. Received the ball pretty well again, much like last week. Oh yeah, scored in the 91st minute.
- Omar – 7 – Hit the post again, but more importantly did well on a first touch strike for the Rapids first goal. He also got free for at least one other solid chance. Had a few poor touches but did send a few dangerous crosses into the box.
Team Rating – 7 – A solid performance against a solid opponent on the road. Coming back to gain a point in extra time.
Final Words – Reading the Rapids BigSoccer forum I see discontent with the Rapids formation. Many would like to see Omar up top with Casey. I’ve written a lot about how that hasn’t worked this year. Here is a comment I made from the Rapids BigSoccer forum last night.
The Rapids started the year getting totally outplayed by Chivas but managed to win really ugly. Then against the Fire, they tied ugly, again losing the possession game. Not long after they switched the formation and have one of the best records in MLS, one of their best starts ever, consistently controlling play like I’ve haven’t seen since multi-color-hair-guy. and people are bitching about the formation. They haven’t scored a ton of goals but not because the formation sucks and they aren’t getting chances. It’s because the players failed to finish.
A 4-4-2 with Pablo and JL in the midfield will fail. Neither has the ability to move the ball forward and both tend to fall back and allow the opponent to possess and move the ball into the Rapids end. All you need to do is go back and watch the first three games. The Rapids were 1-1-1 but the win and tie were ugly, especially the Chivas win. Here’s the thing, I also would like to see Omar as a forward, but only if the Rapids can field four midfielder who can possess the ball, attack and defend. They haven’t shown they can do that.