When your star players are away on international duty, you need the ones left behind to step up to the plate. Omar Cummings did it big time when Conor Casey was away in Chicago and South Africa. Now that Omar and Colin Clark are away for the Gold Cup, Kosuke Kimura chimed in with an energetic performance that won the game on Saturday for the Colorado Rapids. Long before the right-back lashed one into the top of the net in the 79th minute, he had been in top form during the game, contributing to the attack consistently and saving the defense when needed. Kimura, fast becoming a fan favorite, is a coaches', teammates' and supporters' delight. He tries his heart out, he never complains, he loves this game and he is as modest as he is hard working. "My aim is to be aggressive all the time," he said after the game. "I knew a goal was coming; I just didn't know I was going to score." All the media was, rightly, focusing on Kimura after the game. But it would be easy to overlook the significant play of others. The midfield of Mehdi Ballouchy, Nick LaBrocca and Pablo Mastroeni were rightly picked out by coach Gary Smith after the game for their unsung work in the unusual 4-3-3 formation employed Saturday. I swear LaBrocca ran about 10k just in that second half.
Coach Smith acknowledged the vital nature of this win, coming as it did after the team's worst performance of the season against Chicago and before a tricky trip away to DC United on July 18th. "We are a side that are lacking a couple of players that make a big diference for us," Smith said about the absence of Clark and Cummings. "The most important thing was to get three points today." Thankfully, Cummings will be back to play in the DC United game as Jamaica crashed out of the Gold Cup. Clark will remain with the US team and so will miss that game. In the meantime, fans can be thankful that the rest of the squad continue to perform well, the blip against Chicago the exception rather than the rule.