Thursday, June 19, 2008

Houston, You May Have a Problem

OK, bit of a corny headline but there is a good opportunity for the Rapids to vent all their frustrations of the past two weeks on the Dynamo this weekend. Coach, Fernando Clavijo, is very confident he will have the squad to roll the Texans over. Back comes a very solid defense with Ugo Ihemelu returning from pseudo international duty with Canada and Facundo Erpen returning from suspension. Jordan Harvey will probably make up the back three with Pablo Mastroeni, released from the national squad after its mauling of Barbados, looking to fill in in front of the defense. Up front will be Tom McManus and probably Omar Cummings as Conor Casey continues to struggle with injury. I would like to see Herculez Gomez given a chance but you have to remember that he is also battling back from major surgery. That leaves a somewhat controversial midfield. Many people are upset that Terry Cooke appears to be sidelined. The second best crosser in the MLS cannot seem to get back into the team. Where mistakes may be made is in equating Jacob Peterson as the equivalent of Terry Cooke. Coach Clavijo explained to me that it is very difficult to play Christian Gomez and Terry Cooke in the same team because of their lack of defensive abilities. Whatever the creative or tactical weaknesses of Peterson or, for that matter, Colin Clark, they will run for you all day and get up and down those lines. Terry Cooke and Christian Gomez are not going to do that. So, who do you build your team around? Terry Cooke is a very good player and offers things that few others can do but he is no Christian Gomez. I hope that there is a way that the two can play in the same starting eleven but it appears some way off for now. Cooke has to find his way back into the team. From what I have observed, for what it's worth, he is still a long way off from that. Don't expect him back in the starting eleven anytime soon. That opening day against LA Galaxy when he and not the other Englishman was gathering all the plaudits must seem some way off for now. For the sake of Terry Cooke and the Rapids, I hope it comes back, I really do.
A quick word on the goalkeeping situation. As you may have heard on the From The Pitch radio show this week, Clavijo is not best pleased with Bouna Coundoul. Bouna has not been in touch with the Rapids during his somewhat wasteful time with the Senegal national team where he has not played a minute on the field. Justin Hughes, Bouna's obvious number two, is getting back to fitness and is highly rated by the organization. Justin is a great team player and a great talent as well as a great bloke all round. Preston Burpo has done well for the Rapids since the trade that saw Kirovski and Gray go to San Jose but he has not brought forward the match-winning save. Don't be surprised, therefore, if Justin Hughes gets some game time even if Bouna is back.
One final thought. We are all Rapids fans. Sometimes, we will get disappointed and frustrated and appear to care more than the players do. We may disagree with selections. But this weekend is a time to get behind our team 100 percent and make sure we give them the support they need to come away with the three points.


Allen said...

Does anyone really think that Jacob's play and tactics in terms of defense are actually better than Cooke's?

And if it's about not having Gomez and Cooke on the field at the same time :
a) Why didn't Cooke start last week during Gomez's mystery benching?
b) Why didn't Clavijo anticipate this from day one of aquiring GOmez and do something to trade Cooke for the type of midfielder he needs?
c) Wasn't the previous word from Clavijo that Cooke needs to mix things up more? Now it's Cooke defense isn't good enough when Gomez is out there? If the problem is defense than why not a 4-4-2? Surely Clavijo, who said Beckerman was traded because he didn't need 2 DMs, isn't dead set on playing 2 DMs.

Nick Thomas said...

Allen, thanks as always for your comments. I think it is up to Cooke to prove he can be as good defensively as Peterson. Nobody is saying Peterson is the finished article and he does still have a lot to prove. But it is a fact that he runs far more than Cooke ever will, especially when it comes to defending/tracking back. Maybe Clavijo did anticipate the fact that it would be difficult for Cooke and Gomez to play together but I don't think he is ruling it out. I think he wants Cooke to play but it is down to the heart of the player in the end and whether he wants to do it or not. Nobody can provide that for him. Clavijo would play 4-4-2 in certain circumstances and this makes it easier for Cooke to play with Gomez whether his defense abilities are up to it or not. I will get Cooke's side of the story soon but, at the end of the day, it is the player who needs to step up and not blame everyone else.