Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rapids Seek 40 Points Against Familiar Opponents

Same opponents, different day. The Colorado Rapids face another vital game tonight against the San Jose Earthquakes, a team they played in California only this past Friday, somehow escaping with a crucial point thanks to Conor Casey's 95th minute penalty.
That vital point after such a tough game will no doubt boost the Rapids as they seek to secure three points against the basement team in the Western Conference and reach the long-discussed 40 point watershed. Kansas on Saturday will look a much nicer place to travel to if the Rapids do get to the 40 point mark tonight.
The Quakes are also without a long list of first-choice players, particularly offensively.
But, home advantage and current league positions notwithstanding, this will be no pushover. Gary Smith was highly respectful of the performance of the San Jose team on Friday, describing the game as a very tough physical battle that was largely won by San Jose, particularly in the opening phase of the game. The Quakes should still be smarting from the result, viewing it as a game that should have been won, and they will have a lot of pride to fight for. Let us also remember that San Jose, in one of their first games last season as a new team, came to DSG Park and won 2-0.
It's also going to be a cold one (will Omar be wearing his gloves?). Autumn chill has set in in Denver these past few days. It will also be wet, making life difficult with regard to the fast-flowing football the Rapids would like to play tonight.
However, let's not forget the record of San Jose away from home. No wins and only two draws on the road all season. Most importantly, the Rapids are a better team this season than last, not least in their perseverance. Gary Smith may have been praising San Jose for last weekend but he didn't forget to praise his team. "To come out of there with a point was testament to a lot of determination and energy," he said at training Monday.
The Rapids will be fielding the strongest team they can tonight. There is no question of resting any tired bodies at this stage of the season. Very importantly, they will welcome back Pablo Mastroeni after his suspension. I would see Mehdi Ballouchy partnering Mastroeni in the center of midfield with the excellent Nick LaBrocca moving out wide and Jacob Peterson on the right hand side. The striking duo picks itself and the back four is likely to see Kimura coming back into right back with Moor and Baudet in the center and Harvey on the left. Preston Burpo will continue in goal as Matt Pickens continues rehab on his knee.
It won't be easy but I do see the Rapids carrying this one off and carrying that momentum into Kansas at the weekend. But, then again, I never make predictions. Kick off is at 7.30pm MT.

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