What is it about opening game at DSG Park and Terry Cooke? Last year, he outshone his more illustrious countryman and former teammate, a certain David Beckham, as the Colorado Rapids dismantled the LA Galaxy 4-0. Yesterday, against Kansas City, he came on as a substitute in the second half, scored with his first touch of the ball from a brilliant free kick and proceeded to turn the match upside down. "The game was lit up by Terry," coach Gary Smith said after the game. "He gave us a more creative edge and he upped the ante. The ball for Colin Clark (which led to the winning goal) was absolutely wonderful." It truly was. With his back to the goal, Cooke found Clark with a beautiful ball. Clark did well to beat the Kansas City defense and passed to Omar Cummings who hit it first time into the corner. That was a candidate for MLS Goal of the week for sure. The goal capped a busy ten minutes in a hitherto lifeless game which sprung into action as Cooke took the field. Smith said the decision to send Cooke on had already been made and was not determined by the fact that the Rapids had a free kick just outside the penalty box. Nevertheless, Cooke came on, promptly stepped back a couple of yards and stroked it majestically into the top left hand corner. "I asked Mehdi (Ballouchy) if he wanted it because I didn't feel warmed up enough but he was asking me if I wanted it," Cooke said. "Luckily, I hit it sweet and it went in the top corner." That is an understatement. I don't know of hardly anybody else in the MLS, let alone the Rapids, apart from Beckham, who could have come on and done that. It was a great moment which was then topped off by Cooke's pass to Clark and the Cummings goal ten minutes later to win the game. In between, Kansas had scored a well taken goal on a mistake by captain for the night, Cory Gibbs.
The win was tight. Cooke's performance hid a lot of glaring gaps, particularly in the first half. Smith said he was far more disappointed in the overall performance yesterday than in the defeat against Chivas last week and conceded that one or two players "needed a kick up the backside" after the first 45 minutes. "We are a decent all round team," Smith said. "But are we going to keep a clean sheet? It doesn't look like it at the moment. We are not clinical in our finishing and we are not creative enough." The Rapids looked vulnerable on most Kansas attacks with a very flat back four and there was very little creative spark until the entrance of Cooke. It is going to be a probem replacing Christian Gomez despite all his inconsistency. Ballouchy has a lot to prove and Nick LaBrocca, who did play one lovely pass to Clark towards the end of the first half, is more defensive minded. Maybe Smith will find a more complete role for Cooke to add that creative genius in the midfield?