DC United 0-1 Colorado Rapids
The Rapids break History in a scrappy match against a more confident but no less problematic DC United
Benjamin Kowalsky
May 19th 2010

The Rapids broke history last night by beating DC United at RFK Stadium for the first time in 11 years

The Rapids also broke last years record for wins away from the DSG. Not quite enough to prove that this season is different than last year, but the proof isnt in the numbers. Its more in the intagibles, but well get to that in a second

Kind of a scrappy match as far as matches go, huh guys?

A now beardless Matt Pickens (RIP Travis) put it best when in his post game interview he said "I think we played better when we lost."

Granted I think Ive taken that quotation out of context, but Im going to let it stand. That match was really scrappy. Thankfully, the referree was a bit more experienced and tended to err on the side of letting the game go rather than blowing his whistle every time someone fell down. It was that sort of lassaiz faire attitude which led to the Rapids netting their only goal of the night.

As I predicted, DC United took their scrappy play that the used last week against Kansas City and tried to use it against the Rapids, possibly sensing that theyd really hit upon something. The pitch at RFK was nearly a wrestling match at some points, but early on, I think DC United realized theyd lost the midfield battle. So they started launching the ball over the middle to get it to the forward tandem of Cristman and Allsop. If that looks familiar to you, it was something the Rapids were often accused of doing last season.

Taking Route 1 and launching a ball over the middle isnt necesarily a bad thing, sometimes its all you can do, but I think we all agree that it doesnt make for a match for the footballing connosieur. Just saying.

It was just that physical battle whence the goal of the night emerged. Wells Thompson went in with a hard challenge to keep the ball in Rapids possession, then the ball fell to Casey who shoved aside a pouncing United defender and fed the ball to Ballouchy, who used a bit of fancy footwork, nutmeggd his defender, and froze Bill Hamid in his tracks. Hamid collapsed helplessly like a puppet with his strings cut and just watched the ball hit the bottom right corner of the net.

Is the Rapids breakout offensive player this year going to be Mehdi Ballouchy? Really?

Wouldnt be a terrible thing. Some of us (like myself) have been waiting for Ballouchy to step up and get into form for some time. Hes shooting more, and hes distributing well. I think this change weve seen in Mehdi is part of the overall change in direction and shape of the team. The current formation puts a lot of the offensive onus on Mehdi to be the center-forward playmaker. Thus far, hes been able to earn a spot each week, but consistency is the key. Hes still inconsistent, but hes showing that hes willing to work it out and step up more than last season. More on than off.

Good thing, too. Because Conor and Omar are just not having a good run of form recently. Omar is simply unlucky with some of his shots. Its usually his shots that turn into "save of the night". Something about when his foot touches the ball turns otherwise timid goalkeepers into Superman. Casey is simply inexcusable. If he wanted to prove BB wrong about leaving him off the roster for the World Cup... he didnt.

I dont want to focus too much on Conor Casey except to say this: someones got to talk to him about his lackluster playing. And by "talk" I mean "shake him violently until barfing happens." He is the Rapids number 9 and hes not acting like it. He looks bored, not intense, not aggressive. I feel as though hes not earning his spot but hes getting it anyway because..well... hes the number 9. After the game with DC I thought that Gary should just not have him start. Teach him a lesson. Make him compete harder for a starting spot.

Like Wells Thompson. I liked him better as a sub, to be honest. Its an enviable problem to have: to either start Colin Clark or Wells Thompson. However, Im liking Wells less and less as a starter and more of as a guy who comes in a little after the half to give the team a boost. Of the two, Colin looks more clinical on the ball and a bit more careful in his choices.

The midfield battle was won by Pablo and Jeff, as it usually is. DC United came in playing tough, very physical football. Which actually suits Pablo and Jeff just fine. So they were in their element to the point where DC just gave up and, as I said before, started launching the ball over the middle to bypass the Rapids wall.

Speaking of a wall. The Rapids defense is slowly looking like one of the best in the league, what with Houston looking like they gladly reliquished that title against RSL midweek (dear sweet Soccer Gods, I would be so embarassed to be Dom Kinnear after that match). At first it was a bit awkward, as Marvell Wynne was getting used to being at his natural role as RB after playing as starting CB for the Rapids for the past few matches. Otherwise, the defense did what they were supposed to do, and caught DC United at almost every turn. The only good chance that DC had was a chance at an Omar Cummings own goal.

The Rapids played a tough, physical game against a more confident DC United. But in the end, the same problems that have plagued DC since the start to their worst season in their 15 year history could not merely be overcome by a suddent rush of confidence. Though the good form of the past few games was not present in the game against DC, its clear that the Rapids are determined to change their stars this year. And its that determination, combined with their physical dominance, that gave them the match.

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