By: Michael Sandoval
It was a disappointing way to end the season, with the poor refereeing, the inability to string passes together, and questionable substitutions, they all played a part in the Rapids elimination of the playoffs. The 2-0 score line might lead to you to believe Seattle dominated the game, but it wasn’t that as much as it was Colorado beating themselves.
The first goal is a testament to that as Brad Evans had no pressure on him while he collected the ball, took time to set up, and let loose a volley that beat Clint Irwin to his back post. This came in the 28th minute. Rapids fans would hope this would serve as a wake up call as Colorado had started the game rather poorly. In the 12th minute German Mera had a chance at an easy clearance but let the ball bounce past him. Lamar Neagle was able to get on the end of the lose ball and forced Irwin into a diving save early on. The first half, and much of the game, was filled with lousy passes and poor possession by the Rapids.
The second half didn’t get any better for Colorado as their passing continued to be poor. As the game went on the play got more and more physcal. The center referee of the game called a constantly bad game. Letting what seemed to be a clear foul go, yet blowing his whistle at the softest of touches. Now I understand my team lost so naturally I think the referee blew the game for us, but that is not it at all. The Rapids lost because they couldn’t keep the ball or string any passes together in the attacking third (or anywhere on the pitch for that matter), the beat themselves. The referee just made it that more frustrating to watch. The clearest example I can think of is when Hendry Thomas and DeAndre Yedlin collided Yedlin didn’t even get called for the foul. When Clint Dempsey and Irwin collided in the same manner not only did Irwin get called for a foul, he was given yellow card. It was a bizarre to see a professional referee, in the playoffs, have such a bad game. To be fair the referee did give the Rapids a chance when he awarded Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning a red card after handling the ball outside the box and then pushing Edson Buddle when he reached for the ball. Unfortunately the Rapids were unable to take advantage and let the game slip away in stoppage time as Eddie Johnson was able to double the Seattle lead.
It was a rough night for the Centennial 38 to say the least, with many having questions over a number of things. Why take out Deshorn Brown, your leading goal scorer, instead of Attiba Harris for example. I have faith in Oscar Pareja and understand he knows his team better then I do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he faces some heavy criticism over that call. Never the less, it has been an exciting season to watch and I am proud of what the Rapids accomplished this year. With the amount of injuries they dealt with this year, and how much we relied on young players, it was an amazing feat just to make it to the playoffs. In a Western Conference which as proven to be filled with formidable teams, the Rapids continue to show they can keep up with the best of them.Details
MLS Soccer.com has done a good job of not mentioning the Rapids on their site today. A video was posted, not a single Rapids player was featured in the 15 seconds. An Article titled “Kick Off: Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids kick off MLS postseason tonight”. The Rapids get one sentence in the opening paragraph, and then it goes on to 14 other items around the playoffs.
The boys in burgundy were getting some national attention prior to the playoffs, prior to Dillon Powers ‘concussion, and Vicente Sanchez’ shoulder. They were seen as one of the most feared team to play against. That was before they laid an egg in Vancouver.
No argument that they were a team to be feared until I heard a stat that made things clear; home points compared to away points. At home the Rapids have scored 30 goals, and let in 16. Away they scored 15, and let in 22. Clearly the Rapids have a problem scoring when they are not home. Add that to the already gut wrenching stat that the Rapids have never won in Seattle and you might be able to see why the “experts” are writing off Colorado.
The Rapids are the underdogs, and the more I point out what is against us in stats or superstitions, the worse it gets. I do recall earlier in the season writing about how all season long the boys in burgundy have been beating the odds. A handful of club records have been set this year, be it an individual player, or the entire team, odds have been beaten.
Can they break the curse that haunts them in Seattle? If so, they will have to do it without Dillon Powers, and most likely Vicente Sanchez. Without getting a look at the team since Saturday, picking the starting XI is a mystery to me. The fan in me wants some change to the lineup we saw in Vancouver; but as the media guy, who has seen lineups in training that would produce results. But Coach Oscar seems to go with what he has known, so I believe that nothing will have changed. There is an attacking option that Coach Oscar has yet to use; we’ve seen bits and pieces here and there. Only one bit has been seen in a game, but the whole picture has come up in training. Anthony Wallace in the midfield, where Dillon Powers has been, and Martin Rivero out on the wing, say where Vicente Sanchez would normally be? Ponder on that for a bit, but wait that’s not all. Shane O’Neill moves out right. Because he is young, fast, and has a bit of an attacking mind. German Mera has filled Shane’s spot in the center before. I like the Idea of Diego Calderon there, but I would think Coach goes with Mera in the event that should happen.
The most important key to tonight’s match is to know that your season ends if you don’t win. As fans that are left to only hope, remember that the Rapids beat the odds all season long. If anything, that should be the momentum. The Rapids have depth; guys have stepped up when their number was called, and tonight no matter whose number gets called, feel good knowing they will be giving it their all. Tonight begins the playoffs; the almighty quest for the cup.
Predicted Starting XI: Irwin- Wynne, Moor, O’Neill, Klute. Thomas, Sturgis, LaBrocca. Brown, Buddle, Torres.Details
By: Michael Sandoval
While the results didn’t fall our way this week the Rapids still made it into the playoff and will face Seattle Wednesday night for the right to play Portland. The Rapids failed to beat Vancouver and lost their chance to jump to third place, bypassing the wild card game altogether.
A three nothing loss isn’t exactly how you want to end the regular season but the Whitecaps wanted it more in front of the home crowd and pulled off the win. In the 28th minute Edson Buddle had an opportunity to put the Rapids up with his 99th goal when he pounced on a rebound left by David Ousted. Unfortunately the Whitecaps back line was able to clear the ball off the line. In the 42nd minute Marvell Wynne committed a foul inside the box which resulted in a penalty kick converted by Camilio who was chasing for the chance to win the Golden Boot.
The second half began with the Whitecaps leading and in the 74 minute Camilio doubled the lead making him even with Mike Magee for the right to the Boot. After turning Drew Moor inside out with some great ball control Camilio calmly slotted the ball past Clint Irwin. In the 84th minute Camilio scored his 22nd goal to take the Golden Boot for himself. The goal came after a good ball from Russell Teibert.
While the result wasn’t what Colorado was looking for, they will head home determined to fix their mistakes and get ready for the wild card game on Wednesday in Seattle. After being beaten badly last time the two teams met I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sounders go into that match with a chip on their shouldersDetails
One topic of conversation around Rapids camp is why would MLS schedule makers split up the final weekend over two days? Granted, a few months before the season started no one was able to predict what teams were going to do what. Unless you’re a Rapids fan, and your team has had its playoff hopes come down to the final weekend almost every year. After Saturdays Portland Timbers win over a worthless Chivas USA, the Rapids now only have five scenarios for the playoffs.
Best case, the boys in burgundy can finish 3rd, and host Real Salt Lake (yeah that’s comforting) for the Western Conference Semifinal with a win in Vancouver and a tie between LA and Seattle. Worse case, finish 5th and visit LA for a knockout match. For that to happen the Rapids have to lose or tie today, and Seattle beats LA.
The spectrum is too close; both of those are very possible. What is out of the hands of the Rapids should not be in their focus or thoughts at all today. The Rapids and it’s fans cannot rely on Seattle or LA, and be warned the Rapids starting XI won’t be the same.
Even though both Dillon Powers and Vicente Sanchez traveled to Vancouver, I believe the move was made in case they have to turn around and play on Thursday or Wednesday. With it being official that the Rapids are in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach Oscar left the two on the bench today. There is a chance we could see some guys on the pitch we haven’t seen much of this year.
With Martin Rivero’s contract in negotiations, this could be a good chance for him to step up, if given the chance due to Vicente’s absence. Anthony Wallace has been given looks in the midfield as of late, and don’t be surprised if we see him on Sunday. Coach Oscar has relied a lot on Nick LaBrocca for midfield situations where he needs an active attacking midfielder and despite what I think, he may just fall back to using him today.
Ideally the Rapids need to win. A win will ensure them 4th place, possibly 3rd. Then we wait for the results of the LA v Seattle game which will determine whether or not the Rapids host RSL, LA, or Seattle. A tie or loss to Vancouver will only make the road to the cup much more difficult. Be assured the coaching staff is already thinking ahead, so some players may get some rest, but that doesn’t mean they are not focused on 3 points.
Predicted starting XI – Irwin, Wynne, Moor, O’Neill, Klute. Thomas, Sturgis, Wallace. Rivero, Torres, Brown.Details
By: Michael Sandoval
With the last two games of the regular season against a team who was right behind you in the standings it’s safe to say the playoffs have already started for Colorado. Before the game on Saturday the Rapids were sitting at 48 points while the Whitecaps sat at 45. A win by the Whitecaps would have put them level on points and give them a tie for the fifth and final playoff spot in the west. However, Colorado took care of business on their home turf and walked away with all three points after a beautiful strike from Gabriel Torres.
After Deshorn Brown missed a chance opening the scoring off a breakaway, the Whitecaps took the lead in the 32nd minute off a wonder strike from Kekuta Manneh. The 18 year old collected the ball about 25 yards from the goal, saw no one was stepping up to him, and let go a gorgeous shot which found the top corner. Eight minute later, the Rapids caught a break as the referee awarded them a penalty kick after Drew Moor was pulled down inside the box. Torres took the PK and slotted it past a diving David Ousted to even the gam up at one goal apiece.
The second half what a heart pounding ordeal for the sellout crowd watching at Dick Sporting Goods Park. Colorado was able to take their first lead of the game in the 51st minute. Brown, making up for his earlier miss, was able to run onto a Clint Irwin goal kick which somehow found a way to bounce over everyone’s head. Once he was free Brown was able to chip the bouncing ball over the goal keeper Ousted for the lead. Unfortunately this lead would not hold for long and in the 74th minute the Whitecaps got a penalty kick of their own as Shane O’Neill’s sliding challenge took out Jordan Harvey while he was streaking toward net. Irwin did pick the right side but Camilo Sanvezzo’s shot was hard and low, giving Irwin no chance at the save. For a few minutes it looked bleak for Rapids fan throughout the stadium but the Panamanian striker had his fill of disappoint this week and made sure he, nor his team, would feel that sting this game. Torres was played the ball right outside the corner of the eighteen yard box, made a quick cut, and let loose a cannon. The ball had a tremendous amount of curve on it and bent its way into the top corner, bouncing off both the upright and the post before settling into the net.
With this win, and a scoreless draw from San Jose, the Rapids are all but certain a playoff spot. The one scenario that would see them out of the playoffs consists of the Earthquakes winning 12-0 in their last game…like that will ever happen. However, on the other side, the Rapids could finish as high as first place in the west with the right results. They sit at 51 points as does Seattle. The LA Galaxy sit at third with 52, FSL in second with 53, and Portland in first (who saw that coming?) with 54. Unlike most soccer competitions, the number of wins is the tie breaker in the MLS (that’s why Seattle sit at fourth since they have 15 wins and we have 14) not goal differential. The Galaxy and the Sounders play each other this week so with a win the Rapids would leap frog over one of those two teams and at least take fourth place, guaranteeing them a home playoff game. Now, if the Galaxy and the Sounders tie, plus a Rapids win, Colorado could take third and by pass the wild card game all together (Rapids 54, Galaxy 53, Sounders 52). Wednesday night, FLS play the Goats and say Chivas can pull off the upset and win, with the results I mentioned above, the Rapids could take second (Rapids 54, FLS 53). With all the results I stated above, and the Timbers also losing to the Goats on Saturday, the Rapids would take first. Both teams would have 54 points, but the Rapids would have the tie breaker with 15 wins to their 13. Now I understand this is all a long shot, but it makes every game in the last week of regular season worth something. Not very often to you see a season come down to the last game and have so many teams being affected by it. The Rapids finish off their regular season in Vancouver where a result could turn things really magical in Colorado. I would like to end this post-game with a congratulations to the players, coaches, and staff of our beloved club for getting to 51 points in a season, a new club record. Way to stay competitive in the brutal western conference.Details
There was a chant we sang in Kansas City while rooting on the US Men’s National team that I feel we should use today. All it takes is one person to lead, and a few others to follow, and before you know it 18K strong will chant 6 simple words – I believe that we will win. To do this chant all you need to know is; I. I believe. I believe that. I believe that we. I believe that we will win. With 18K strong chanting it, and believing it, it’s hard to think that the eleven guys on the pitch would not be motivated just a little bit more to put the ball in the net.
Not to mention that this is another year where the fate of the clubs presence in the playoffs comes down to the final game or two. At least it’s not against Real Salt Lake, but the odds still do not play to the Rapids favor. Rookie of the year candidate Dillon Powers is likely to miss this game due to lingering symptoms from a concussion. Both Gaby Torres and Deshorn Brown missed half the week due to international duty and their involvement in today’s match is only known to Oscar Pereja. Coach Oscar did comment “they are young” when asked if it was an issue with them missing a few days of training.
So with the uncertainties in the lineup, the next man up system will have us scrambling to see who will fill the key spots on the pitch. Nick LaBrocca seems to be Coach Oscar’s pick for next man up to fill the Dillon Powers role. Another option, one I was impressed with was Anthony Wallace, either Wally or Nick will get the start, but Martin Rivero should still be in the first team eighteen. Rivero may be the second option on the wing; Atiba Harris is still nursing an ankle injury. Buddle will start if Torres does not. Although it’s just an opinion, I see Buddle performing better at the end of the match when defenses are tired.
Believing that we will win also comes with knowing that we NEED to win. San Jose (47pts) sits below the Rapids (48pts) in sixth place. LA and Seattle have 51 points, meaning that even with the win we won’t be going up the table. The win will only keep us one point ahead of San Jose, and put us in a tie with Seattle or LA, depending on how they play. As far as how or where we can place scenarios, none of that matters if the Rapids can’t pick up a win today. We can question The Don, and MLS schedule makers later, but today we must focus and believe we will win.
Tonight’s match is sold out, it’s fan appreciation night, and the boys in burgundy are itching for a big result. Let’s bring the cheer, be the atmosphere, show our boys what the playoffs are like around here.
Predicted Starting XI: Irwin- Wynne, Moor, O’Neill, Klute. Thomas, Sturgis, LaBrocca. Sanchez, Torres, Brown.
By: Michael Sandoval
It has to be said, that was a boring game to watch. After coming off a spectacular thrashing of Seattle, Rapids fans were excited to see some mid week action in a game which could have sealed a playoff spot for us with a win and some help from around the league. However, Colorado got caught up in San Jose’s style of boom ball and never controlled the pace of the game. To make matter worse the Vancouver Whitecaps put a beat down on the Sounders and moved even closer to the Rapids and that final playoff spot.
The Earthquakes came out with that old English style of football which the Rapids use to play back when Gary Smith was the head coach. While the style can be effective (2010 champs baby!) it is not the most attractive style of soccer to watch. This game was a testament to that. Alan Gordon got off a few good headers in the first half, beating the offsides trap on several occasions. While most of his efforts sailed wide one did clink off the post in the 9th minute when he beat his mark, Drew Moor, off a corner kick. The Rapids best chance off the game came in the 19th minute when Edson Buddle managed to drive in a cross which found Vicente Sanchez. Sanchez was able to keep the header down but sent it just wide of Jon Busch’s net. The half ended with both teams tied at zero with neither goalkeeper really being tested.
Early in the second half Shane O’Neil made a rare mistake which allowed Chris Wondolowski into the Rapids eighteen with practically no resistance. Fortunately, Wondolowski was unable to get a clean shot off and hit the ball straight into Clint Irwin who stood his ground well. In the 64th minute it was Moor who came up big with not just one, but two great saves. Wondo gathered a cross inside the eighteen with just Irwin to beat. He slotted the ball past Irwin put Moor was able to make a sliding save on the goal line. The rebound fell right to Gordon whose shot was also saved by Moor while still on the ground. Minutes later Wondo got another chance to score off a San Jose free kick. The Earthquakes took the kick quicker than the Rapids were expecting and the cross found Wondolowksi unmarked who forced Irwin to an amazing diving save which could very well be a contender for Save of the Week. Unfortunately on the ensuing corner Wondo did finally manage to beat Irwin when he was able to push off his mark and easily directed the ball into the back of the net.
Colorado was never able to find any real offense throughout the match and never force Busch into any real saves. Oscar Pareja, who was interviewed after the game, said he was “sad for soccer.” A truer statement could not have been made for this lack luster game. While San Jose did eke out a result it was far from pretty. I know at the tail of the season it doesn’t matter how you win just that you win because this is a result oriented business, but if no one’s watches the games, there will be no game to play. San Jose’s current philosophy may get them to the playoffs (I highly doubt it) but they won’t get a lot of respect around the league for the way they do it. Just ask those who won the 2010 MLS Cup. After that season no one really gave the Rapids the respect champions deserve and just one season after leading them to the Cup, Gary Smith was let go. With only two games left, both against close trailing Vancouver, the Rapids need to finish the regular season strong in order to make the playoffs. The Whitecaps are only three points behind so to lose both games would guarantee the Rapids season will be over on October 27th.Details
Who wants to get revenge for the last time the Rapids played San Jose, and clinch a playoff berth at the same time? That’s right, we can do both tonight. The last match against San Jose was at home, and we saw our boys in burgundy go down a man before a third of the match was completed. The result was 2-1 San Jose, and though our boys hung on as best they could, the squad looks a bit different today, and the focus has changed.
Although the Rapids will be without the services of Deshorn Brown, and Gaby Torres due to international duty, they will have Vicente Sanchez, and Shane O’Neill who also wasn’t available the last time we played San Jose. It’s no secret both those players presence on the pitch does a lot of good for the Rapids. Vicente’s ability to be everywhere, and his natural playmaking ability has been a big spark in the atmosphere on the field, everyone’s giving it 110%. With Shane O’Neill, it is more behind the scenes, after all the Rapids have only lost once when he has started a match. Not to mention his consistency and positioning are crucial part of that solid back four. He is solid just about anywhere on the pitch, and the more chances he gets, the more we get to see it.
Now, with Deshorn, and Gabby out of the lineup for tonight’s match, we can expect to see the return of Atiba Harris, and Edson Buddle. Edson has had a good history against San Jose, and we can hope he will get himself closer to that 100th goal. Dillon Powers was a late addition to the injury list and is listed out for tonight’s match. The next man up here should be Martin Rivero. San Jose is without Steven Lenhart because of a suspension. Victor Bernardez and Marvin Chavez are out on international duty, so the Quakes will be playing with a few fresh faces too.
San Jose is itching for the last playoff spot sitting in sixth place with 44 points, and the Rapids in a tie with LA for 4th with 48 points. The battle has begun for the playoff run; putting an X next to the Rapids name in the standings would be great. Revenge for the last match would be the cherry on the cake.
Predicted Starting XI Irwin- Wynne, Moor, O’Neill, Klute. Thomas, Sturgis, Rivero. Harris, Buddle, Sanchez.Details
By: Michael Sandoval
With four games left in the regular season, and sitting in the last playoff spot, Colorado knew that collecting all three points in this home fixture was vital. I thought there were only two ways this game could go. First, we fight hard, handle the pressure well, and pull off the narrow victory winning by a goal. The second, we buckle under the pressure and let one of the top teams in the best pull further away. Never did I think the Sounders would be on the plane home with their tails between their legs after a 5-1 thrashing. If the Rapids weren’t getting enough credit in the league before this game, they definitely have it now.
It took Colorado just 14 seconds, not minutes, 14 seconds to take the lead. That is the fastest goal in Rapids history and second fastest in MLS history. With the opening kickoff Drew Moor found Gaby Torres, who played Deshorn Brown inside the eighteen. Brown simply placed the ball far post, beating Seattle’s keeper Michael Gspurning. The second goal came ten minutes later when Vicente Sánchez found Dillon Powers with a quickly taken corner. In the 31st minute Brown double his tally when he sprinted to a break away after being sent in and beating out fellow rookie DeAndre Yedlin. The first half fireworks did not end there as Drew Moor got a fortunate bounce off a corner which put the Rapids up 4-0.
The second forty-five did not see as much action as the Sounders spirits, and seven game unbeaten streak, had already been crushed. Eddie Johnson did manage to get Seattle on the board in the 63rd minute but there was never a hint at any sort of comeback. Clint Irwin showed his class once again coming up with impressive saves the few times the Sounders managed to gather any attacking pressure. Torres finished off an amazing game with a fantastic finish in the 91st minute. On an odd man rush Torres was played the ball just outside the eighteen, the Panamanian striker took a heavy touch and let loose a cannon which found the far post. His first goal in a Rapids uniform, and boy was it pretty.
Colorado has a short turnaround as they play San Jose Wednesday night in a match which could seal their playoff fate with a win. A lost however, would put the Rapids in a tough spot for the final weeks of the regular season. They will have to do this without Torres and Brown who have both been called up for World Cup Qualifiers (Panama/Jamaica). Brown getting his first call up by the senior team.Details
Statically speaking, our boys in burgundy are up against it today. Teams coming off a bye week typically struggle to find their legs and form when returning to the field of play. The last two games after bye weeks the Rapids lost, away. Against Seattle, in whom we take on at home today, the Rapids have only won once, and tied twice for an overall head to head record of 1-8-2. Seattle by the way is on an unbeaten wave, of 8 games.
On a positive note, the Rapids have not lost a league game at home. We are the 12th man. With one more positive note, aside from statics, training at Rapids camp has been different. As mentioned last week in Keep calm and focused on Seattle, I mentioned the focus on the training field and a few differences between this bye week, and others previously.
Hendry Thomas got one extra day off to visit family in Miami, but everyone else was back on the training field at the beginning of last week. Overall training was intense and focused. They had worked on positioning training; they focused on Eddie Johnson and the midfield play of the Rave Green jerseys, to reaction training for the goalies. At times Coach Oscar would stop the run of play to re position guys, demonstrate, or to re-iterate the purpose to the drill and the goals going into this match.
This is also not one of those college football situations where a small crappy institution spends all offseason focusing on one big game hoping to get some notice, but they are on NBCSports today, and everyone is going to be watching. The Rapids did not spend two weeks focusing on just Seattle, they spent two weeks tweaking, and fine tuning things we have yet to see.
For instance, the 4-3-1-2/4-3-3 formation we’ve all known was coming. No matter what formation gets put on the lineup sheet, it will not be the same for 90 minutes, or even 45. It’s taken a few new players and two seasons for the coaching staff to put together a fluid formation of players who will get results. Every single player’s position will change within the situation, Vicente Sanchez will be playing a center forward role at times, but then will also flank out wide. Expect to See Gaby Torres and Deshorn Brown to be the two offensive players to join playmaking Vicente in the attacking third. This is where the formation will change at times. Brown and Sanchez will be wings at times, when needed, but when Vicente is dictating play in the center, Brown and Torres will be the two targets up front. Dillon Powers will back Vicente’s play, while Sturgis and Thomas control the middle of the field.
As for the starting XI, the back five remains the same. Clint Irwin in goal, Marvell Wynne out right, Drew Moor and Shane O’Neill in the center, and Chris Klute on the left. In the middle, Hendry Thomas, Nathan Sturgis, and Dillon Powers. The attacking forwards should be Vicente Sanchez, Deshorn brown and Gaby Torres.
I also expect to see 2/3 of the bench stacked with attacking players. The keys to this match will be the opening fifteen, it’s important to start off strong. The next key is adjusting, who to put on in the second half to add flare and spark if needed. That or to hold off a lead, regardless, adjusting to the second half is key.
Seattle is looking at the Supporters Shield, and Colorado is looking at beating them to stay in the playoff field. Today’s match will be about focus, and control – whichever team is focused solely on today, will be the victors at the end of the game.Details