Monday, August 4, 2008

Rapids Shoot But Don't Score Enough

Once again, the Colorado Rapids outshot their opposition but there is only one statistic that matters in soccer and that is how many goals you score and how many goals you let in, well two statistics then. Everton scored twice, once at the beginning of the game and once right at the end. Conor Casey got on the scoresheet for the Rapids early in the second half but it proved not to be enough. One of the post-match phrases often used by lower teams in England when they play the big boys is that "we showed them too much respect." That is what happened in the first 20 minutes or so yesterday when the Rapids seemed almost in awe of the various internationals facing them in the blue shirts and consequently let Everton dictate the game. There was no surprise when Mikel Arteta (or Michael Arteta as the stadium announcer insisted on calling the Spaniard) scored after six minutes. If Spain weren't such a damn good national team and so heavily stocked with superstars in the midfield, surely Arteta could find his way into that set-up. He and Cahill make up a fantastic midfield pairing.
It was only when the Rapids woke up and realized that they were facing a jet-lagged, not match fit team with teenagers playing at its heart that they started to fight back. This was particularly clear in Colin Clark's case. Clark was basically anonymous in the first half but played really well in the second 45 minutes, making some great dribbles and creating chances with Terry Cooke and the energetic Herculez Gomez. I kept wishing he would make a fool of Phil Neville at right back just as he had with another international in Frankie Hejduk the previous week but Neville never really let him do that. The Rapids dominated the second half with Clark, Herculez and Cooke gaining the upper hand. Nick LaBrocca also gave the team a lot of energy in that second half after coming on as a substitute for Mehdi Ballouchy.
A good game. It was great fun to interact with a team from England (and to hear the anthem at DSG Park!). I think these games are great for the Rapids' players who can test themselves against international stars who play in one of the biggest leagues in the world. If they can perform well against such a team, they know they can perform on most stages. Granted this is a team with a lack of fully fit players who are only in their preseason but this is still a Premier League team who finished fifth in the league last season. Positives to take into the vital MLS game against Toronto this weekend.

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