Friday, April 24, 2009

LA Again? Rapids Return to Familiar Surroundings

The Colorado Rapids have a welcome game at home tomorrow night, their first in almost a month after a tough road trip that included games against Houston and Columbus. The team has emerged from the trip in pretty good condition. They certainly lived with both Columbus and Houston and, with a bit more confidence, could have come home unbeaten from all three road games which included the 3-2 victory against tomorrow's opponents, LA Galaxy. The image of Pat Onstad first saving Conor Casey's penalty and then the follow-up from Terry Cooke may still haunt a part of the players' brains but they will know that they have nothing to fear from an LA side at home as a result of their strong performances away. It won't be easy, as many people might suspect, but I would say that, whereas the past Rapids may have squandered such opportunities, the current team is far less likely to.
The Rapids will clearly take the game to LA. Head coach, Gary Smith, is expecting his full backs, wide players and midfield to all contribute to greater creativity than may have been on offer in recent games. Note the emphasis on wide players. It would not be a great surprise to see Terry Cooke or a now fit Jacob Peterson to start. "Jake is fit and another nice option and then there is Terry and Mehdi (Ballouchy) who can offer the creativity," Smith said. "We need to make full use of the pitch and the large surface." Read of that what you will. Smith is not a man to reveal his starting line-ups. Suffice it to say that it wouldn't be a shock to see two of those three starting and maybe Nick LaBrocca dropping to the bench. The defense will very likely be unchanged and Omar Cummings is fit to go after an injury scare this week so his partnership with Casey will continue.

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