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Home » Colorado Rapids, Rocky Mountain Cup

RSL owns the Rocky Mountains

October 24, 2009 | 11:04 pm 8
By George Tanner

Fox Soccer Channel really know its soccer. I love the cable network, and I love the broadcasting duo of Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan, who worked Saturday’s 3-0 Real Salt Lake victory over the Colorado Rapids.

And although they don’t work every Rapids game, the offered keen insight into the team and its playoff fortunes throughout Saturday night’s telecast from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

When Real Salt Lake owned a 2-0 lead in the first half, Max was already calling it a win. Sullivan also called the result a done deal in the first half, as did Mark Rogondino at halftime. It’s painful to say, but at no point after Robbie Findley scored his second goal of the match did it seem as if the Rapids had the goods to make it a contest. Fighting for their playoff lives, they had no punch.

And the FSC crew could see that.

Sullivan also pointed out that someone in the Colorado midfield needed to pick up his game when the team faced a two-goal deficit in this, the season finale. He was absolutely right. The problem for the Rapids, however, was … who?

Since Colin Clark injured his knee on Aug. 11, the Rapids are 4-6-4 and have scored 19 goals in 14 games. Jacob Peterson and Jamie Smith also have suffered knee injuries and have missed time on the midfield flanks for Colorado.

Those losses forced Kosuke Kimura and Jordan Harvey to move forward into the midfield from the defense, the only area of the pitch where the Rapids have real depth. But that leaves Pat Noonan as the sole offensive midfield option on the bench. So if a Rapids midfielder was being counted on for a burst of offensive inspiration, who would it be?

In the second half, Sullivan said that, going into the playoffs, you want to be a team that shows it can play convincing soccer. The Rapids have not done that in weeks. Since the last time the team was on FSC (Sept. 5) the team is 0-3-4 and has scored six goals in those seven matches. Three of those were penalty kicks.

Next, Bretos noted near the end of the match that Colorado, based on this result, does not have the look of a playoff team. Maybe that was an easy one. What was your first clue, Max? Findley’s two first-half goals? Yura Movsisyan’s dagger in the 85th? The frustration on the faces of the players, helpless to shape their own fate? The observation was a soft one, but Bretos hit it out of the park.

Finally, Sullivan pointed out that RSL owns the mountain region of Major League Soccer. Again, painfully, they do.

Even though the Rapids beat them convincingly in May and Omar Cummings conjured a goal from nowhere for a road tie in June, Saturday’s 3-0 RSL victory came when it counted the most. It was the second straight season that RSL has beaten the Rapids in the regular-season finale with the playoffs on the line. Salt Lake gets to keep the Rocky Mountain Cup and shows once again that it holds the upper hand in this rivalry.

All that wisdom in a few short observations about the Rapids. FSC is a joy to watch.

This game, however, was not.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Findley.

ARE THE RAPIDS ELIMINATED? For Colorado to advance to the postseason the team needs New England to lose today against Columbus.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN CUP The trophy stays in Utah for another season, but it was nice to see C10 member Tina Nuechterlein in her Rapids gear on the telly.

ATTENDANCE MATTERS: Officially, the attendance was 18,675, but I saw a lot of red seats at Rio Tinto Stadium. Could the Rapids have drawn a better crowd? No.

RAPIDS STARTERS: Preston Burpo, Jordan Harvey, Cory Gibbs, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, Mehdi Ballouchy, Pablo Mastroeni, Kosuke Kimura, Nick LaBrocca, Omar Cummings, Conor Casey.

REAL STARTERS: Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley, Fabian Espindola.

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8 Comments »

  • J Cieraszynski said:

    Its sad to say that I will be rooting for Columbus tomorrow, but hey what do I have left? I guess I should be used to this since I am a Cubs fan and a Rockies fan. Besides the complete absence of an aggressive midfield (Sorry, Medhi can kick, but he’s not that aggressive, and LaBrocca is not up to it), why wasn’t Pickens playing? Is he still hurt?
    At this point all I can hope for is for NE to lose so that we can at least say we made the playoffs. There’s always next year. … Wait isnt that the saying for Chicago? :)

  • George Tanner (author) said:

    hang in there, J. A team that enters the playoffs with few expectations can be a dangerous team. Can be. Now the Rapids just have to root for Columbus so they can get there. …

  • J Cieraszynski said:

    That’s true. What do we have to lose, right? Go Crew!

  • J Cieraszynski said:

    Hello again.
    I just saw this quote from Gary Smith on the Rapids website from a story posted by Jeremy Horton. (Jeremy Horton is a contributor to MLSnet.com)

    “We need better players,” said Smith. “What was very clear tonight was that some of the guys in that changing room are not good enough.”

    Not to put too fine of a point on it, who do you think he is talking about?

    Thanks

  • George Tanner (author) said:

    My first guess would be Ballouchy. Although he’s a rarity on the team in that he add some offensive spark in the middle of the field (whereas most of the O comes from the flanks), he was not good last night. His turnover led to Andy Williams’ long lead pass to Robbie Findley on the second goal. It was awful. So my first guess would be Ballouchy. I see real talent when I watch him, but I don’t see enough guts. If he and Beckerman had a horrible love child (would it look like Sideshow Bob?), it would be a great soccer player if it had Kyle’s leadership, defensive awareness and toughness and Ballouchy’s touch, ball sense and creativity.

  • J Cieraszynski said:

    Well, now for the “next year” saying….NE should be congratulated on its win.
    With regard to Ballouchy, I have to agree. Even though I didn’t get to see the CO RSL game (maybe thats good right?) I did see
    Ballouchy in some home games in person and the killer instinct is not there. Just imagine if more of the Rapids players had Kosuke’s drive, or Peterson’s spirit. Hopefully, next year we will see more of it. Otherwise, I wonder of Colorado will keep its team. I know its a stretch to say that, but why is ole Sam buying so much of the Arsenal?

  • mikeg said:

    gah. this is a hard team to love. Its always next year for Rapids fans, until RSL shove our faces in the mud and take our lunch money again, when it counts. Gary Smith doesn’t have a clue without 442, he built a team that could do that very well and nothing else. Would have been nice to have a Terry Cooke on the bench as well for that 442 instead of defenders stacked like firewood, or a Christian Gomez with Pablo and Nick either side him in a 433, or 351. Or anything other than whatever it was that just dragged itself off the field to the dustbin of history.

    Nice website here, frequent visitor, new commenter. Probably wont be back til next rapids season though, I need the break. Cheers.

  • Bonji said:

    It is time for the Rapids to dump Mehdi so they can make room for a midfielder who helps the team, not hurts it. The final tally is in, RSL won the trade of Mehdi for Beckerman, hands down. Dump Mehdi, find some more depth on the wings and a better backup striker than Diz and we’re a solid team again.

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