The Rapids entered the weekend having seen their 9 point lead shrink to 6 after K.C. Wizards dispatched the Chicago Fire mid week. The Wizards would play and finish their game against the New England Revolution before the Rapids would take the field in southern California against the Galaxy. At kick off either that lead will have shrunk further to 3 points or the Rapids would be in the play-offs.
I was of two minds (some might argue that’s two more then usual, but that’s another story) thinking on the one hand, I don’t care how the Rapids reach the play-offs. But what I really wanted was for the Rapids to win. Beat the L.A. Galaxy and their whining coach Bruce Arena. Bruce was complaining earlier in the week how his team hadn’t, in him mind, received the respect and glory he felt they deserved. A Rapids win, in L.A. over the blessed, under appreciated, possessors of all that is good and honorable, and no doubt soon to be crowned (yelled in my best Leonardo Dicaprio voice) King of the World.
Yes, a win would indeed be grand
Keys to the game:
- Can the Rapids contain Edson Buddle ?
- Can the Rapids contain Landon Donovan?
- The ubiquitous, can the Rapids win?
- Can the Rapids walk forward into the play-offs
How did they do against the Keys:
- Buddle scored the first goal on a shot that, when it left his foot appeared to be heading wide but caught Drew Moor’s leg and floated above Matt Pickens into the net. He also was free a couple other times but came up empty.
- Yes, although they did suffer many of his menacing glances and pouting looks
- Yes, YEs,YES and did so by coming from behind for the first time since King Herod hung around Temple where he was coached by John Chaney
- No, they ran into the play-offs.
Player Ratings (1-10, 10 being perfect):
A good game where we’ll see the team rating exceed the player ratings, read on…
Defense - It was mentioned tonight that Anthony Wallace had a groin injury hence he hasn’t played. Coach Smith clearly has lost confidence in Danny Earls so much so he started Well Thompson in his place.
- Pickens – 8 – I wouldn’t say he had any spectacular saves but he was very solid and in total control of the box.
- Moor – 8 – Shook off his leg assist on Buddle’s goal to play his usual solid game.
- Wynne – 8 – Once again scrambled all over the defensive end stopping plays with speed, strength and solid tackles.
- Kimura – 6 – Strong game but faltered badly towards the end with serious lapses in judgement and execution.
- Thompson – 3 – Was picked on all night by anyone and everyone as he was the clear passageway to the Rapids goal. Should have received his second yellow early in the second half after getting beaten (again) and dragging down the player. Note to Coach Smith, I suggest you consider a 3 man back line before you think of this choice again.
Midfield - The midfield didn’t have their best effort as a unit although individually had moments of very solid play.
- Smith – 7 – Was in and out of this game without making a strong impact but did well enough and especially at the end of the game where he did some chasing to keep the Galaxy off balance.
- Pablo – 7 – Didn’t put his usual mark on the game but played strong enough defensively clog things up.
- JL – 7 – No goals from Mr. Offense tonight and actually had a pretty quiet game.
- Mullan – 7 – What the heck, let’s keep rolling sevens. Brian like Smith was good enough but not great, he did keep the game flowing on his side. Maybe got an extra point for dumping Eddie Lewis after Lewis elbowed him on an earlier play.
Forwards -Omar and Casey looked like they did during the first half of 2009. Running apart together and assisting and scoring goals for each other.
- Casey – 8 – Great stretch to finish Omar’s precise pass. Conor also showed excellent vision on many passes to create and open up space for others.
- Omar – 8 – Looked and played like the guy who had double digit assists in 2009 and finished his goal on a tough angle. He also was around the goal must missing a fumbled save and hitting the post on header.
Team Rating – 9 – I believe the team knew they were in the play-offs when the took the field and it probably relaxed them. That was good because giving up the first goal, after 9 minutes knowing the Wizards were 3 points behind may have changed the game in a dramatic way. They were unlucky to give up the first goal but luck swung back when L.A. gifted one of their own. After that and for much of the remainder of the first half, I saw to much of L.A. in the Rapids end. To many times the ball the ball was clanging around inside the Rapids 18. The half ended well as the good guys took the lead. In the second half, the Rapids played better, and L.A., I think felt a bit deflated resulting in much more even play although once again Omar and Conor combined to seal the game.
Final Words – I dub thee game Best Result of the Year. The Rapids burst into the play off picture after 3 years of damn, missed it by this much. Only one game stands between the Rapids and the first leg of the play-offs. That game is against Real Salt Lake next Saturday. A win does three things:
- Continues the momentum
- Returns the Rocky Mountain Cup to Colorado
- Keeps the Supports Shield out of Utah
Next week is not a must win in the traditional sense, but is a very important game. It will be very interesting to see how both coaches play. I see no valid reason to harness the teams. In consecutive weeks, the Rapids have tied and beaten, on the road, two of the better teams in MLS, there is no reason to not go out and play your best and keep rolling into the play-offs. Beside, the Rapids have something to prove to the fans at Dicks Sporting Goods park.