Greetings from a sunny Chicago. I should be looking out on Lake Michigan basking in a great win for the Rapids but a crazy last 20 minutes put paid to that. The team is a few blocks away no doubt also musing on the one that got away. I shouldn't think there is much happy conversation over the scrambled eggs this morning.
A poor penalty decision (where have we read that before?) changed the whole nature of this game. Kosuke Kimura made what looked like a perfectly good challenge on Cuauhtemoc Blanco but the referee, with the trigger happy nature of most officials in this league, saw fit to award a penalty. Blanco put it away and the Rapids, despite their best efforts, went into self-destruct mode.
No point in going on too much about how the Rapids should have done better in that last quarter because nobody knows that better than the players and the coach and they will be hurting this morning. They will know that the difference between a team with playoff hopes versus a team realistically challenging for the MLS Championship is in being sure to win in situations like yesterday. 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go against a team depleted by injuries, suspension and internal dissent has to mean victory but it didn't. Now, they approach a tough game at home to Houston with a different mentality. Instead of the confidence engendered by a victory on the road against Chicago, they will go into Sunday's game knowing that a win is vital for morale as the postseason gets ever closer. They will regroup in Colorado this week, recover from this kick in the guts (but not today), prepare and eventually enter Sunday's game in a better frame of mind than they find themselves this morning. It's the nature of the human mind to do so and pro athletes need that as much as anyone.
A few positives to end up on:
Omar Cummings - wonder strike for the second goal and ability to shake hands with the officials at the end of the game despite the turmoil of the final 20 minutes.
Kosuke Kimura - must be a shoe-in at right back for the rest of the season. Another energetic game in both attack and defense. Blameless for the penalty.
Matt Pickens - played a great game in goal and cannot be blamed for any of the goals.
Jordan Harvey - some great defense right at the end with an apparently game-saving goalline clearance at the death before the final goal. Consistent as always.
That's not to be negative about any of the other players - it's just that those players stood out yesterday, for me anyway. Next week will be different players making the outstanding contributions, that's how it goes. Onwards and upwards. I'll post some other random thoughts and observations later about my time in Chicago (some interesting observations thanks to the generous hosting by a great supporter section here in Chicago).