The Colorado Rapids ended up sealing a comfortable 4-0 victory against the unfortunate New York Red Bulls last night. I'll stick my neck out and say this wasn't the best performance by the Rapids and that the final scoreline flattered them. That sounds a little negative when you think of a 4-0 result but, a couple of decisons going the other way, and the outcome could have been very different. Credit to the boys in Burgundy and Blue, though, for exploiting the lack of confidence in the New York team and making sure of the victory in the opening minutes of the second half when the second goal went in. After that, any crumbling resistance the Red Bulls may have had floated away and Nick LaBrocca and Mehdi Ballouchy put the seal on an emphatic victory.
I have to declare an interest at this point. I was covering the game for MLSnet for the Red Bulls so my focus was on them and not so much on the Rapids. I can tell you that there were a lot of dejected players in that New York locker room after the game, not least homecoming king, Bouna Coundoul, making his debut for the Red Bulls, and Juan Pablo Angel. I also have to say here that Angel is a class act both on and off the field. He is very unhappy about the situation he and his team find themselves in but he was gracious with me and a true gent. Not a bad player either. I wished them all well because I felt sorry for that team.
As I said, things could have gone diferently in that first half with chances falling to Angel, Kandji (very good player) and Rojas. But the early goal dented already fragile confidence and the disputed sending off totally changed the game. Another example, I am afraid, of how poor referring can be in this league. Did the guy even stop to think that it might only be a bookable offence? It wasn't the greatest challenge but the referee weakened under pressure from the home dugout and the Bulls were cursed again.
Let me briefly discuss a couple of things about the Rapids unless you think I may be turning into a New York fan. Pablo Mastroeni was back last night to his imperious best after a couple of disappointing games from the captain. He owned Sassano in the midfield and gave the unfortunate Ubiparipovic lots of trouble before the midfielder's sending off. Kosuke Kimura, who came on as a second half sub, was again marvelous and you have to wonder what he has to do to get a regular start. Congrats also to Pat Noonan for his first goal in Colorado uniform and compassion to Julien Baudet who looks to have sustained a broken wrist or arm and will surely be out for some time. One other observation. Terry Cooke, who has not featured in the last two Rapids games, looked a forlorn figure warming up last night. His rival, Jacob Peterson, has now won MoM for the last two games, just to rub things in. The unfortunate Cookie will surely be on his way next week and all true fans will miss him.