Friday, May 15, 2009

Team in Reasonable Shape as New England Awaits

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. Annual work conference for three days this week, coincidentally here in Denver. There was a lot of work and a lot of drinking. It meant I couldn't get up to training to check on how things are going after a week off last weekend for the Colorado Rapids. What I can offer are some thoughts fom Gary Smith both on new boy, Rob Valentino, and where the team is after a tough opening stretch of games. Smith said he would have been happy with the current position of the team if that had been offered to him at the start of the season. And he didn't just mean where they are in the league. "If I could have had a picture of where the team is in terms of points, physical state, form and consistency, I would have taken this at the start of the season," he said. With the tough opening of all those games on the road, Smith said his team is one that is in "reasonable shape" in terms of finding the form needed to make the playoffs. He is particularly happy with the improved defensive ability of the team. "I have been more pleased with what we have been able to achieve in terms of clean sheets and being frugal," he said. Tomorrow at New England, injuries and form aside, will be a further big test of that defensive strength. The game kicks off at 5.30pm Denver time.
One player unlikely to be traveling, unless there are any last minute major injuries, is new signing, Rob Valentino. The former New England player was due to be training with his new teammates this week in Colorado but, with first choice players like Cory Gibbs and Ty Harden appearing to be back on the mend, there is not much room left on that bus. The week off has given players like Gibbs a great opportunity to get back to fitness and it would seem he will play some part in the game tomorrow. Smith sees Valentino as a player with great potential but one that is unlikely to be called on that much this season. What he wants is a "little bit of a conveyor belt" of central defenders coming through. He certainly seems to have that now as he concentrates on defense and getting a new striker, his midfield core apparently pretty settled. Tomorrow's game will be hosted by GB Fish and Chips on South Broadway. See you there.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Nick...was wondering if we lost you!

Here's one for you - Omar started off this season very strongly but seems to have tapered off a bit the last 2-3 matches. With Smith seeking a new striker this summer, is Omar at risk of losing his starting spot beside Casey? Personally, I think Omar has just hit a rough patch and will push through for his best season yet but I wonder if his small drop in form has added pressure to Gary to find another striker soon.

Nick Thomas said...

Josh, I think the need for a striker would be the same even if Omar or Casey were in consistently top form. The Rapids desperately need a top notch striker to not only back up but challenge both Conor and Omar. Right now, the two don't have that challenge because Schunk and Richardson are not at that level for many reasons. Gary Smith will want to get a guy in who will expect to be playing in every game.