RAPIDS WIN
What, thats not enough for you?
Benjamin Kowalsky
Aug 29th 2010

I could never have predicted what happened last night. The statistics bore out a win, but nowhere near by a 3-Nil margin. It was more than we could have ever asked for.

Though, to be fair, I should have looked at disciplinary action stats as well. Especially in the case of Houston. Ill make sure to do that in the future.

You saw it. We saw it. Everyone on FSC saw it. Rapids got their first 3-0 win over Houston. Looking at the numbers, its plain as day to see how the Rapids did it. Rapids were able to create more chances, and finished those chances much better than they ever had all season.

One of the things that was said to me by a gentleman in the audience was "THE MYTH OF WIDTH". Its the sort of play that we were used to seeing last year, and saw a bit of this year until Colins absence forced us to do otherwise: where our outside midfielders streak down the sides and try to cross the ball inside the box from a far out wide position.

This works extremely well (given normal circumstances and defenses following standard defensive procedure) to spread the defense out and create some gaps where we can play the ball through. If you havent noticed, this hasnt been working like we hoped. Defenses havent been fooled and they pack in the space and catch up to the guy on the side to stop the cross.

So Smith tried something a little different tonight. Instead of flying out wide, Medhi and Jaime made cutting diagonal runs directly to the middle. Its not rocket science. Its almost silly to think we havent been doing it that much.

Look at Jaimes first goal (of his MLS career, by the way), its a very well timed pass from Conor, but Jaime is in a perfect position in the middle. And he releases from his defender at just the right time to catch the ball. Thats the sort of precision timing that the Rapids have been missing.

Play it through the middle. Why wasnt it just so obvious to us before? Weve got great options as outside backs, so if we need someone to either make a big run up the sides (as Kosuke was doing) or chase down a stray midfielder (as Danny was doing) we have those options available. And thats good. Because our outside Mids will be cutting to the middle. Where theyve got Pablo and Jeff behind them to keep the ball up and going our way.

Now, of course, two of our goals came when Dymano had already gone down a man (Palmers several, and I counted several, fouls on Pablo were inexcusable) but that first goal within 2 minutes from a guy who has been relatively quiet all season... that was the highlight of the game, for me.

Its not going to get Goal of the Week. But it was a brilliant play.

Speaking of things I noticed: Did anyone else see The Beast making a kissy face toward the benches? It looked like he was making it at the Houston bench. A little intimidation?

The Conor Casey Rant Section

No talk about this match would be complete without talking about Conor Caseys stellar performance tonight. This doesnt put to rest my criticism of him. In fact, this almost makes it more severe. Conor is a brilliant player. He can be a brilliant player. But I think this particular performance can be attributed to one thing:

competition

Casey is, or should be, well aware that people like Yoann Arquin and Andre Akpan are after his starting spot. Akpan scored a Hat Trick, Davy Armstrong (who is also a forward as well as a midfielder) and Quincy Amarikwa both netted goals. Granted: this was just scrimmage. But you know how Gary Smith is. Gary does not reward pure talent. He rewards hard work with playing time. If Akpan shows that he is the harder worker who can produce goals for us, then Smith will start him. Simple as that.

I cannot understate the importance of possibly bringing in Yoann Arquin. He and Akpan add competition to Caseys formerly unchallenged starting spot as our "big forward" whereas young Quincy created competition for our "speedy forward" spot. Omar has had competition all season. Conor, not so much. Akpan was loaned out to get more playing time. And he looks hungry for some pro-minutes. Young Arquin is the key, though. Gary Smith has let Conor know, in no uncertain terms, that he isnt guaranteed anything. He has to show out now. Especially now. When he and Omar are so crucial.

As I said in my novella on "Whats Wrong with the Rapids?" : Gary Smith is the best Manager the Rapids have ever had. While some things are questionable, in no way do I doubt that he knows how to get the best performances out of his people. He may not always get them, but he knows how.

I also have the same tie as he wore this evening. Truth.

A Couple of Words on Houston, wherein I begin to swear a lot.

Theres a great amount of respect between Gary Smith and Dom Kinnear. They have similar philosophies. If you look at the Dynamo and the Rapids, they reflect those philosophies: hard work, athleticism, with a focus on developing good players as opposed to just buying good players... I mean, that seems to be the case with these two guys.

That being said, I couldnt have imagined players on a pitch who disliked each other more than the Rapids disliked the Dynamo and vice versa.

Where the Dynamo were cynical, the Rapids were clinical. Kinnear seriously needs to give a talk to his men about the kind of play they put out there on the field. What Palmer did to Pablo is absolutely fucking unacceptable. The fact that Pablo got a Yellow Card for "Unsporting Behavior" is a fucking joke. A fucking disgrace of Drogba-eque proportions . I thought I saw Gary leave the touchline to have a word with the ref. He shouldnt have done that in retrospect, you can get thrown out for shit like that, but I can understand that.

Its like being robbed by someone, and then on their way to jail you call them an asshole and get a citation. Thats money out of Pablos pocket, right there. Thankfully he didnt get another yellow for screaming at the ref in the second half. Oh man. I was about to lose my shit. Ballack Style. But teams like Houston make people crazy like that. You see a lot of the fouls, bot not nearly all of what happens on the pitch.

Houston didnt even come up to the dressing room with the Rapids at the half. Should tell you something about the atmosphere out there.

Anyway, Houston look to be out of the playoff picture this year. As do Chivas. If we can down them just like we did with the Dynamo, we should have no problems taking one of those two spots. Our competition in the West is coming at us from FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders, and San Jose. Galaxy and RSL are as good as in. Nothing is for certain, but I have a good feeling that were going to see Galaxy, RSL, and FC Dallas in the playoffs in the West. That Fourth spot, though...could be any one of us.

Rapids just need to keep up winning, and winning big at home.

Push for the Cup, baby. Push for the Cup!!!

Because, hey, why not the Rapids?

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