Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Easy Rider and a 3-4-1-2 Formation

Maybe this is what Colorado Rapids' coach, Fernando Clavijo, thinks to himself when he's on the seat of his Harley approaching Estes Park. How am I going to get the most out of my big players and what is the best formation to fit the biggest of them all, Christian Gomez? Well, it may just be the 3-4-1-2 scenario, Gomez being the 1. "I don't want to play with one striker if I can avoid it," Clavijo told me at training today. If current indications are to go by, those two strikers, subject to fitness, are probably going to be Tom McManus and Conor Casey. Casey, to large amounts of applause from his teammates, saw some action today in a competitive scrimmage against the University of New Mexico. Coming on for the last 20 minutes or so, the big striker made his presence felt and almost scored a couple of times. The Rapids dominated what I saw of the game (most of it) and ran out easy winners, 4-2. Jacob Peterson was another who looked sharp, scoring twice with one spectacular strike to the top right hand corner from about 20 yards. I think he is beggining to get in the coach's mind a little more and will probably build upon his ten minutes or so against Chicago this weekend.
Many of the big name players had the day off. Pablo Mastroeni, who is set for a long run in the side if he can keep fit, was nowhere to be seen. Terry Cooke and Rafael Gomes were not suited up at all. Cooke, who has been quiet the last two games, admitted to some naivety in the team last weekend. Clavijo expressed what many have been saying this week how badly caught out the defense was when in attacking mode. They simply were not able to get back into position to prevent the inevitable goals. Expect Kosuke Kimura to come back into the line-up this weekend (he better, he's in my fantasy team). Otherwise, it may be a pretty similar line-up to last week. Ugo Ihemelu played a full 90 in the scrimmage (or was it 120? The game seemed to go on for ever), and his speed would be a welcome asset in the heart of defense. I would think he will get some action this weekend. Ciaran O'Brien could see some gametime too.


Allen said...

The Rapids really need to get the defense sorted out.

Nick Thomas said...

They do, you're right Allen. I think his ideal would be to pay three at the back, at least at home, (Kimura/Ihemelu/Burciaga) but I think we are a bit away from that right now.

Allen said...

Obviously I'm just an armchair qb of sorts but I think Burciaga's about as cut off for being in a 3-man backline as Howard Stern is cut out for the priesthood.

Doc said...

I would never trust Burciaga in a 3 man backline. Dropping Gomes back to left back and moving Burciaga into the midfield is another story.

johncos said...

As always, thanks for the insight and update from training Nick. I like the "idea" of McManus and Casey up top. They seem like they might be a complementary pair. I tend to agree with the others about the prospects of three across the back. Even-though I like the play for the most part of the individuals in defense they do seem to be missing a "leader" back there. Without a great organizer back in central defense going with 3 is really scary.

Folks, what have you thought of Herc thus far? Nick had some positive things to say earlier in the week, but to me he has been reminding me of Nico last year... Tones and tones of running, jumping, falling and more running but never impacting the play or creating dangerous moments. What do you think? Too little playing time to judge? Could he be trying too hard or maybe I'm just off base?

Nick Thomas said...

Your comments have me thinking I must ask Fernando next time who his three would actually be at the back because he definitely seems to favor this. Regarding Herculez Gomez, I think he definitely needs more game time. Maybe he is a little overanxious to impose himself when coming off the bench. He needs a longer run because I think he is one of the most talented players in this team and also one with a great heart. Just not sure how he would fit in. Maybe he could play up front with McManus while Casey gets back to fitness? Thanks as always to everyone for your comments and hope you are all going to the game on Sunday.

Joey said...

Herc needs to work on remaining upright, he falls to the ground so easily it's like he's got oil on his boots.

Burciaga makes me nervous sometimes (often) at left back, but I'm not sure Gomes is a legitimate defender as much as a defensive or holding midfielder.

And would you play Burciaga at left mid rather than Colin Clark? Obviously not.

Erpen is just an accident waiting to happen.

And please, no more isolated forwards running around by themselves, we need two up top.

Christian Gomez: Do something already! From the looks of him thus far, I'd still rather have Kyle Beckerman.

BMer916 said...

whats wrong with Keel in the back. i don't think he's the smartest player ever but he sure does play hard, and saves our butts on quite a few occasions. one can only overcome the mistakes of Gray and Erpen for so long.

i like Herc coming off the bench, he's like a spark-plug, and i think he is creating chances, at least he did against the Fire.

i can't wait for Casey to come back, he was so fun to watch last season.

Jason Maxwell said...

I'm leaning towards a traditional 4-4-2. I think a midfield of Gomez - Cooke - Clark - Pablo might be one of the best in the league. I'm not confident going 3 at the back though.

The drawback is that I don't see a place for GOmes in a 4-4-2.

Allen said...

Alright, this is just craziness by me and I fully expect flack but...

what about wingbacks? Burciaga strikes me as the type. Maybe not the speed but the stamina and other skills to get up but still sit back. Kosuke's got the speed for sure and it gets around the issue with height when you've got 3 in the back. What about Cooke? Sheet, who knows. I'd like to see him able to get up more. As much as it's nice for him to get out wide, I'd like to see him pop up in a few other places like Clarke does. I'd like to see get over to the left every now and then to put in a cross that's an in-swinger.

Or about Clarke up top with his speed and ability to run at defenders to help play off someone like Tam or Casey to win the ball?

So maybe 3 in the back, Erpen and Petke/Keel flanking Pablo. Then Kosuke and Burciaga playing wide and up a bit higher but pinching in to help defensively. Then LaBrocca / DiRaimando cleaning up with Gomes helping, Christan roaming, and then Tam and Clarke? Ohhh... that leaves Cooke out.

... just throwing some things out there randomly.

Nick Thomas said...

The only conclusion I can legitimately make is that we have a deep squad. I'm not sure how we can fit everybody in. But I am sure we are going to need all these players as the season continues. Maybe, by the end of it, everyone will see what the ideal starting XI would be. Great comments and great interaction. This is what I want the blog to be all about. Thanks so much to everyone.