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Archive for April, 2011

COLORADO SOCCER: Injury Overshadows Game

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor close down on Sounders attack

Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor close down on Sounders attack

Written by: Ian Campbell – Pictures courtesy Karl Gehring/Denver Post

Well that was quick. In the third minute of Friday’s game against Seattle, Brian Mullan put the Rapids down a man with a reckless challenge on Steve Zakuani. Zakuani was stretchered off with his leg in an air cast, so it seemed fairly serious. Because the stadium didn’t show any replays, we could only assume it was gruesome, and Youtube was able to confirm that later in the evening. I wouldn’t recommend looking up the video if you have a weak stomach. Zakuani underwent emergency surgery in Denver for a broken fibula/tibia and should recover, though the timeline and extent are still unknown. Mullan is expected to receive a suspension for the challenge, but the extent is still unknown.

Unfortunately, the Rapids took an eternity to recover from the initial shock of going down a man in the opening minutes. The entire first half was dominated by Seattle, and the Sounders were able to strike in the 19th on a finish by Fredy Montero. The play found Tyrone Marshall lost in no man’s land, forcing Marvell Wynne to cover two players in the middle of the field, and as he stepped in to Mauro Rosales, Montero was left wide open. With a first-time placement shot from the top of 18-yard box, Montero was able to put the ball between Matt Pickens’ legs for the game’s only goal. Pickens could have done much better with this chance to keep the game tied at 0-0.

A worried look on coach Smith's face after a three game plunge

A worried look on coach Smith's face after a three game plunge

The second half started with more of the same for Colorado as they struggled to create scoring chances while still splitting possession with the Sounders. Colorado’s ability to move the ball in the second half never seemed to be affected by playing a man down, which was a far cry from the first half so Gary Smith deserves a tip of the hat for his halftime chalk-talk. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the subs started coming on in the 65th minute that the game started to get even remotely interesting. Pablo Mastroeni was taken out in favor of Wells Thompson, Tyrone Marshall was replaced by Anthony Wallace, and Jamie Smith was removed for Sanna Nyassi all in the span of 5 minutes. Mastroeni’s extended injury break left him a bit short on fitness, so it was natural to see Thompson come on, though still disheartening to see the captain leave right before the final push for a result.

Omar Cummings trying to spark the offense

Omar Cummings trying to spark the offense

In the end, the best chances were created by Kosuke Kimura combining with Sanna Nyassi on the right side, yielding a few shots on goal and a few deflections for corners. The shots were generally comfortable saves for Kasey Keller and nothing seemed to really bother the Seattle defense.   In the end, the Rapids were not able to overcome Mullan’s red card and couldn’t atone for the defensive collapse. Luckily for fans, we can erase the memory of this disappointment with a home game against the Chicago Fire on April 30th. Chicago is in 8th place in the Eastern Conference after 6 games, so they might just be what the doctor ordered to get Colorado back on track and stop the skid.

Please see all game photo’s at the Denver Post Website: http://photos.denverpost.com/mediacenter/2011/04/colorado-rapids-vs-seattle-sounders-april-22-2011/#name%20here

COLORADO SOCCER: Rapids Lose in Extra Time

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Rocky MOuntain Cup Kicked off with a bang last week

Rocky MOuntain Cup Kicked off with a bang last week

Written by: Ian Campbell

There was only one thing running through my head when RSL earned a free kick from 25 yards out in added time, “Oh shit, please don’t do what I think you’re going to do.” And thus it was pre-destined that RSL would score and deny the Rapids a point on the road against one of the strongest teams in the MLS. It’s a cruel world sometimes, having fought all night long through the wind to seemingly earn a draw, and having that point snatched away with literally seconds left in the match. The last three times the Rapids have faced RSL, they have conceded goals in added time to either lose or tie. When is this going to change? This goal was even more of a punch in the gut because it looks like Espindola (goalscorer) was at least a yard offside when the ball was struck and the linesman missed it. It was reminiscent of the feeling right after the penalty kick was awarded to RSL last year to tie the game at Dicks. It just sucks, no one likes it, but the result stands.

Not to say that this game was not a massive improvement over the 3-0 loss to Dallas. Gary Smith moved Jamie Smith into the midfield to replace the largely ineffective Joseph Nane and gave Tyrone Marshall his first start. Wells Thompson also started in place of Sanna Nyassi, but otherwise the lineup was the same as against FC Dallas. Either out of embarrassment from Friday’s loss or due to Smith’s changes (or both?) the Rapids came out looking much better. Possession was much stronger through the midfield and RSL had a much more difficult time producing chances than Dallas. After facing the wind in the first half, I was confident that the Rapids would be able to produce more chances running with the wind in the second.

Rapids Goalkeeper Matt Pickens rises above all to punch the ball

Rapids Goalkeeper Matt Pickens rises above all

With Gary Smith’s introduction of Quincy Amarikwa in the 63rd minute, I was glad to see a positive change and the appearance that we were going for the win instead of trying to hold on to the draw. Of course, as a premonition of the luck that the Rapids would have later in the night, Amarikwa went down minutes after his introduction and was replaced by Sanna Nyassi, the Rapids having already added all their healthy regular forwards. And in the 85th minute, Jamie Smith can up a bit lame and was replaced by Andre Akpan, giving him his first chance of the season to run with the first team. And still, at this point it was 0-0 and Rapids supporters could be forgiven for thinking a tie would be a positive result. Of course, this wasn’t meant to be and RSL scored to send the Rapids home with nothing for their troubles but more injuries and a “moral victory.”

Pablo was still missed in this game; his presence has an undeniable effect on the rest of the team. And I find myself missing the consistent finishing of Conor Casey. Conor is able to put the ball on net almost every time he is given an opportunity. I just haven’t seen that from Caleb Folan and Quincy Amarikwa so far. Certainly, Folan has the touch but after two scoreless games up top it is time for a change. I remember hearing one of the commentators say something like “Colorado has scored once every 44 minutes in action this year and RSL has scored once every 39 minutes, so we can expect some goals this game,” causing immediate laughter from me. Yes, we scored a fair number of goals against some weaker opponents, but we were shut out against Dallas and looked largely ineffective. And of course, the commentator’s curse struck the Rapids and we were held without a goal and had only a few real scoring chances in the game.

Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola scores the gamewinner in extra time

Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola scores the gamewinner in extra time

Colorado is fortunate to have a long break between games. The back-to-back losses will eat away at them and drive them forward to better things when they come out against Seattle on April 22nd. And the extra time should allow some of the players to make comebacks from injuries, allowing Gary Smith more freedom to build a lineup of design, not necessity. I fully expect the Rapids to blow Seattle out in front of the home crowd at the Dick. See you all there!

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