Updated: May 7
Recapping our first victory of the season
After a slow start to the season the Colorado Rapids bounced back with a 1-0 win on the road, at Rio Tinto, against Vancounver. Capped off by a free kick golazo from the Chilean striker Diego Rubio. Check out every angle below from the Rapids website.
(Video: Colorado Rapids)
Although we still haven't seen a goal from open play there were encouraging signs. For one, we fought through a difficult match to get the three points. Vancouver piled on the pressure especially in the second half. Cavallini is a tough opponent to face and he was essentially shut down due to a great team effort by the Rapids. Once again Auston Trusty stepped up and Danny Wilson was the leader on a solid backline.
With the win over the Whitecaps the Rapids now have two clean sheets on the road. Goalkeeper William Yabrough and striker Diego Rubio were both named to the MLS Team of the Week for their efforts last Sunday.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
As Head Coach Robin Fraser said after the game, "It's good that we had chances, we just need to finish them, have more of a killer instinct. But it's good- won 1-0 away and now it's time to start winning and have this same mentality that we had today in every game."
When looking at player positioning in game, it does look much more like a 352 than a 433 or 4231. Sam Vines and Andre Shinyashiki were essentially parallel on the field and played the wingback spots. I think this is the main reason we see Shinyashiki play more than Lewis- his defensive workrate. Keep an eye on this situation as it could change depending on matchups going forward this season.
Kellyn Acosta slotted back into midfield and gave us the bite that we've been lacking in the center of the park. Although he did excellent at left back and led the league with 8 tackles through the first two matches, the man is needed when it comes to breaking up the opposition's attack. As usual he was all over the field and has retained the form he ended last season with. Once again he led the team in tackles with 4, had 1 key pass, 1 aerial duel won, 1 shot, 2 clearances and a 90% pass accuracy rate. Exactly what you want from a box to box midfielder.
It was a true joy to see the homegrown 21 year old, Sam Vines, return to the starting lineup. His style of play is unique and very helpful to the team in attack and defense. He loves to connect on short passes while building the attack, make long runs in behind, he doesn't dive into tackles and shows great concentration. Early on in the first half he made one of his trademark runs to join the attack. A perfectly timed overlapping run gave him just enough space to put a phenomenal cross into the path of Andre Shinyashiki. Unfortunately Shini wasn't able to score on that occasion, nor was he able to find the back of the net on 4-5 chances in the game. Shini's sub, Jon Lewis, was also very dangerous on the night but likewise couldn't find the back of the net despite having some good chances. Vines finished with 1 tackle, 1 interception, 2 clearances and 2 crosses. He wasn't quite at the top of his game but a solid performance overall. More importantly it allowed the Rapids to play in their preferred formation and to get the most out of this squad.
Looking ahead to our next match at home versus a struggling Minnesota United team
Although they were hot going into the playoffs last year the Loons have started ice cold this season. No wins and three losses. They've created a lot of opportunities ranking 5th in MLS but only rank 20th in shots on target. They don't have that finishing touch. Sound familiar?
But what else has gone wrong? The loss of Kevin Melino to the Crew seems to be a huge hit for them as has the absence of Ike Opara. They don't seem to be finding the space they did last year in midfield, releasing wingers and getting in behind for 1 on 1 situations. Minnesota ranked third-most attempted dribbles last year and they were top nine success rate. This year they're 24th. The DP forward Ramon Abila hasn't really taken flight yet although he has a high quality pedigree. The bad news about all this is that it's mostly fixable and the dominos could start falling at any time. Despite the slow start Reynoso has made 9 key passes which ranks 3rd in MLS.
Midfield Hassani Dotson said this week, "I think we need to come out with extra energy. The results aren't just going to find its way, we have to make it happen ourselves. More intensity on and off the ball, we could be more creative on offense and be a little more resilient on defense as well."
Rapids game plan
As far as the game plan goes for the Rapids, I wouldn't expect any significant changes compared to the lineup we saw against Vancouver. Typically we play a 433 except when Bassett is in - which means a 4231 is employed. Often times the player positioning on the field can end up looking more like a 352. So lots of variation but the key personnel remains the same.
On that note, following the May 6th press conference with Head Coach Robin Fraser it would appear that both Jack Price and Lalas Abubakar are available. When asked if he was concerned Fraser said, "Not really. Lalas has come along. Price has bounced back well from the tackle on Saturday." It's not crystal clear but my best guess is that Jack Price will start while Abubakar will be on the bench again.
One thing the club will want to see more of is goals from Diego Rubio. A well deserved nomination to the MLS Team of the Week could be exactly the confidence boost he needs to hit his stride. More goals from open play is clearly the biggest area the team can improve on. Shot creation and player movement has been excellent. Transition from defense to attack has been as well. Concentration on continuing these trends is key.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
Shutting down Reynoso is not an easy task but the Rapids will be trying not to give him space or time on the ball. I expect Acosta to be given this task in part although the whole team will be aware of his presence in midfield. When the Argentine isn't given opportunities he tends to get frustrated and the Loons don't have an alternative. Close down the passing lanes, don't allow them to get into 1v1 situations. That should be the focus defensively. Don't put yourself into a situation where you have to rely on emergency defending.
We're going STREAMING!!!
The Rapids are 3-3-2 all time vs the Loons (0-2-1 last season). Kickoff is at 8pm MT in Commerce City, Colorado.
Altitude Sports announced that due to a conflict with airing both the Nuggets and Avalanche games, they are streaming this week's game for free. This is wonderful news for fans as most have not been able to watch games on tv due to 2.5 years (I think? can't keep track) of tv negotiations. Direct TV and AT&T Now are the only options that carry Altitude Sports currently. Here's the link below and make sure to share with anyone you can.
Let's make a point here. Tell everyone you know. Even if they aren't into soccer or the Rapids. Spread the word so we can make a point. This is an opportunity to show that we care and we want to watch the Rapids play. Hopefully this stalemate ends soon but enjoy the stream on Saturday. Go Rapids!