Bulldog Match Preview: Colorado Rapids v LA Galaxy
Benjamin takes a look ahead of the game against Los Angeles
Benjamin Kowalsky
May 5th 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

There are very few teams that dont have a reason to be shaking in their boots about LA right now. Colorado is one such team. And thats just based on history.

I understand that the Galaxy are a different team this year. But thats a silly thing to say, because every team is a different team this year. Look at the Red Bulls. Now look at DC United. Now quickly look back at the Red Bulls. I try not to look at DC United too long. They make me feel more hopelss than an Arsenal fan when they see Fabianski between the pipes.

So what should I say is going to happen this match?

Firstly, if the Galaxy are planning on coming away with points they needed to make this match their top priority this week. Seattle hasnt been performing up to par this year. They havent been connecting as well as they used to, while Colorado is looking like something fierce. Gary Smith has had two years to make this team his own, and were seeing the results of that now with our play against both New England and (arguably) San Jose. The Galaxy needed to treat this match as the big one of the week, and well see how that plays out in the match.

Secondly, the Rapids need to treat this game as their big early-season test, which they need to pass. New England was like a quiz. We were not favored to win that match. Similarly, we are not favored to win this match either. Sorry to say it, but thats what Im hearing. Now, do I believe that we can and probably will win this match? Yes. There is one thing the Rapids MUST do in order to win.

Win the Midfield.

Marvell Wynne is great. Drew Moor is great. In fact, our entire defense is great. But the truth remains: they cannot shut down Edson Buddle. Not that they shouldnt even try. They should be at the top of their game and keyed on him at all times. But hes going to find some way in, even if Marvell and Drew or Baudet are at their absolute best. However, that doesnt mean its hopeless.

We have to win the midfield battle, and this is going to ultimately come down to Jeff and Pablo against Landycakes--the midfield maestro of the Galaxy. If Landycakes cant play the ball forward to Buddle, the Galaxy then lose their primary means of attack and will have to find another way in. This way, Rapids force Galaxy to play differently than they normally do.

Winning the Midfield also puts pressure on the Galaxy to play Rapids-style football. And at home, thats exactly the kind of football we want to be playing.

The improvements that Id like to see from last week is obviously down to finishing. Keeping the Galaxy from playing the ball up, and keeping the ball out of their feet is great, but its not going to win the game. Omar needs to get his form and confidence back. Casey needs to step it up more than hes ever stepped it up before.

Mehdi, Wells, and Colin all need work in that area as well. Theyre much better at keeping the ball, great at passing, and great at running into good areas, but then... something stops. Thats hopefully something well see improved this match.

So if I had to guess at a formation, here it would be:

Casey

Colin        Mehdi        Omar

Pablo        Jeff

Danny                        Marvell

Drew        Beast

Pickens

Looks a little silly, but thats what I see. I keep seeing Marvell out at RB. This week especially. Kos just looked tired at the weekend match against San Jose... So I see him not getting the start this week. Pushing Wynne out to RB means the Beast would fill in the Center. I also see the Left and Right Back playing slightly more up the field than Drew and Julien. Last week we saw Danny and Kos way up the field, pressing the attack, I look for that to happen again. Gary Smith is going to want to keep LA on their heels. Hes also going to want to win the physical battle with Edson Buddle.

Im not saying we are going to win the defensive battle with Buddle, but its not saying we shouldnt WANT to win it.

Pablo and Jeff have been solid. They need to continue being a wall against LA. This match is going to be won or lost in the Midfield.

I hope to see everyone at the Bulldog tonight. ill be there around 6pm so that we can get started with a few pints, a few songs, and then... off to the match!

Equally, I also recommend the NCC and Class Sixs tailgate parties in the parking lot of DSG. Great group of folks who give a great free tailgate to all fans of the Rapids. Theres also going to be some live music as well, I hear, in the Cantina.

Anyway, Ill see you at the match!

Country Roads, take me home...

--
Cheers!

Addendum:
I realize that I said "get a new coach", and I wanted to clarify: in no way should the Rapids (ever) get rid of Gary Smith. Hes a brilliant coach overall. He believes in his team. What I am saying is that we need an additional offensive coach who can fine tune our finishing. I dont think Gary and his current staff can manage this problem as is.

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