The COSC Feed - Mar 12th 2012
Rapids Week One Match Report
Paul Merrit
Mar 13th 2012
The COSC Feed - Mar 12th 2012

Holdon tight everyone…. Its arm chair analyst time.  It’s “I’m Doyle Brunsonbecause I guessed the turn watching poker on ESPN” time.  It’s the holiestof the holy cliché soccer blogs.  That’s right kiddos…. It’s the playerrating column.


Weshould begin with the mutual understanding that I have no idea what I’m talkingabout.  I don’t mean that in a hipster self deprecating “OMG I suck sobadly! LOL” fashion either.  My beard has much more to do with lazinessthan it does irony.  At the end of the day I’m just another guy with ascarf, and I want to make sure that I use this space as a conduit for myobservations and not as a lecture hall because I’m certainly not qualified forthat sort of thing.  If you disagree with what I’m saying drop a line ( let it be known.  I’m no expert and all opinions are welcome. Ican’t promise I won’t piss you off.  I know he’s your boy and all that,but seriously... Wells Thompson got kicked out of an invitationaltournament.  Shit will be noted just as much as sunshine.


Nowthat we’ve come to this understanding, let’s talk criteria.  I think footyis a great game because of its diversity, and that diversity shines just asmuch in people’s appreciation of the game as it does on the field. Everyone sees something a little different in a match.  Some folks areimpressed with the physical skill while others find more beauty in thepositioning and tactics.  So when you read a blog and people are tossingnumbers around, how can you know what those numbers mean?  If Altidore plays like mastodon dung and then scores the gamewinner in the 93rd minute is he a 5.2 or an 8.0?  There will beno grades handed out here, just observations noted in a player’s overallperformance during his time out there and whether or not it helped or hurt.




Weekone had us at the Dick squaring off against a Columbus team that had as chaoticof an offseason as we did.  Robbie Rogers, Andres Mendoza, and Emmanuel Ekpo have all moved on, and the front office went all Jim Irsay on club and MLS scoring legend Jeff Cunningham awhile back as well.  None of this hurt my feelings with the exception ofRogers.  That guy doesn’t scare me on the field whatsoever, but him leaving the team and the league for that matter hasdenied me and 500 of my closest buddies an opportunity to compare him, IN SONG,to a certain aspect of the human female reproductive system that should remainnameless in this forum for propriety’s sake.  The truth is I really don’tknow anything about the Crew other than that penalty shootout during the ’10cup run took roughly 15 years off of my life and it seems like they dive alot.  We saw a little bit of diving this week as well, but this team seemsa lot nastier too.  We saw two leaky elbows on 50-50 balls, one of whichmay have cost us our captain for a while, and a pretty live shoving matchbetween Emilio Renteria and Marvell Wynne.  Itold myself I wasn’t going to call out any of the Crew by name because thetruth is they were beaten soundly and didn’t play that well and it should beleft up to their bloggers to explain why.  Renteriaget’s special mention here though because he was especially doucheyin Saturday’s contest.  Stirring up some shit on a relatively harmlessphysical play with Wynne and lingering over Pablo a little too long afterdelivering the Randy Savage elbow (Thanks again for saving us from the Rapture,Macho Man) had me ready to fight the dude.  I can’t imagine what our guyson the field must have felt like.


We’renot here to talk about them anyway though are we?   Let’s talk aboutus.


Firsthalf v second half – For me one of the most interesting momentsof the match was the difference in how we controlled the ball between the firsthalf and the second half.  I thought we were technically sound in thefirst half, delivering crisp passes, defending soundly, and absorbing thelittle bit of pressure the hapless Crew could build in the middle of the fieldwith no real trouble except for a low shot toward the left hand post thatPickens got down on nicely.  However, for as technically sound and sharpas we were, we couldn’t really muster a lot of quality possession and attacksgoing forward for the first 20 minutes of the contest.  Yes I know Omarhad a nice break away and forced a huge save, but that opportunity came off adrunken frat house back pass that should have cost the yellow wankers a goal and thus can’t be attributed to intelligentbuild up.  I see it like this, that first 20 minutes (the entire firsthalf really) was spent feeling out the positioning of the new system and in acouple of slightly frustrating cases “running home to momma” with some searchinghoof jobs up to a holding forward that isn’t there anymore.  This would bebad news if we didn’t come out in the second half and basically dominate thematch… both technically and tactically.


Papi may speak quietly whenaddressing the supporters, but dude is a GENERAL –Oscar spent a lot of the match stalking the technical area, screaming at theofficials, and even threw in a wild hand gesture or two!  It waspleasantly surprising for me to see Oscar so involved on the touchline.  Idon’t really know a lot about the guy and quite honestly didn’t know what toexpect.  Based on this observation however, I would say the tacticalimprovements and better possession in the second half were a result of aninvolved manager making some adjustments.


MattPickens – Down here in the Springs Mr. Pickens is rarely referredto by his government name.  Dude has great reflexes, but he has also beenthe author of some of the most embarrassing and bizarre chapters in MLS goalkeeping history… and that’s just in the last 3 years or so.  It’s weird…the guy is never just okay or serviceable, and he’s certainly never just anafterthought.  That’s why we call him “Trick or Treat Matty Pickens”.  Love him or hate himthough, Trick or Treat was brilliant Saturday night.  He had two top shelfreflex saves and came out nicely on a between ball at the top of the box withWynne racing back under duress.  We’ve come to expect the reflex saves,but a proper decision under pressure?  Now that’s a step in the right direction!


DrewMoor… My man of the match – True class on set pieces all night bothoffensively and defensively and more than one clutch clearing header during theCrew’s few spurts of offense earns Mr. Moor MOTM honors for me.  A healthyDrew Moor is a formidable player.


Kosuke Kimura –Truth be told MOTM honors could have gone here as well.  Given the wayKimura’s season ended last year he turned in a truly amazing performanceSaturday night, assisting on both goals and involving himself in the attackconstantly.  The true beauty of his performance though was hisenergy.  Dude ran hard all night, constantly taking on players and chasingopportunities with a hunger and urgency normally reserved for Black Friday doorbusting housewives or competitive eaters.  His energy and athleticism hasalways impressed me.  As a matter of fact, a few too many London Pridesand a shot of something that tasted like Bushmillsmixed with Red Bull at the opening season event led to an unfortunate incidentwhere I stalked Kosuke down upstairs and slurred tohim how inspiring I thought he was.  I wasn’t NEARLY as drunk at the matchSaturday as I was on that occasion and I thought his energy was as good as it’sever been, especially considering this his first MLS match coming back off ofthat ankle problem.


MarvellWynne – Marvell’s explosive speed and jaw dropping athleticismwere on full display Saturday night and he bailed us out big time on a coupleof sneaky through balls down the “sweet spot” between the top corners of thepenalty box and the keeper.  His rotations were sound and showed goodunderstanding, and I can’t even recall him having one of his normal face palminducing headers where he hammers a ball headed out for a harmless throw inback out to a thankful midfielder with the wrong color shirt on.  The takeaway here of course is the athleticism.  We have to have him healthy forthis offense to work because his speed and leaping ability will erase a lot ofmistakes as the year goes on.  I’m not really one of those old school punditswho feels the need to go on in length about disciplineand mindset and shit like that, but I will say that I felt his yellow against Renteria was undeserved.  Marvell goes in hard and alittle late on the sideline and dumps Renteria out ofbounds.  Renteria  thenjumps up and runs at him with his hands out in a push/superman punch typeposition (think JWOW versus random bar skank for an accurate mental image), and Wynne doesn’t back up.  In the MLS thisis called a “fight” and both players are carded.  In reality, this iscalled one guy losing his shit for no reason and another guy not backing downbut somehow getting carded for actions beyond the scope of his control.


LuisZapata – poise, controlled play, decent positioning, and a coupleof useful forays into the attack.  Mr. Zapata turned in a very niceperformance as our new LB.  His anticipation and smooth passing kept thepressure on Saturday night in a couple of instances that would have resulted ina hoof job to the opposing keeper or a ball rolling all the way back to Pickenslast year.  Zapata also had a nice clearing header in the first half,steering a menacing driven cross from the left side out of play before it couldget into that “who knows?” area between the near post and the keeper.  Nicedebut.


PabloMastroeni A typical roving and sharpperformance from our captain featuring at least one stretched and vitalclearance in our penalty box as well as some classy and creative one touch playwith Castrillon to free Omar for a great look atgoal.  Pablo played great offensive and defensive footy and linked up withCastrillon as if the two had been playing togetherfor years.  He also managed to keep his notoriously combustible demeanorunder control during some physical moments throughout the match when the Crewlooked more interested in working on Judo throws and elbows than they did inplaying footy.  Now we just need to see what’s up with his head.  Ifit’s another concussion… who knows?


JeffLarentowicz– Quite honestly, the depth issues last year forced the Ginger Ninja into arole that he’s not equipped to  handle. Dude’s just not wired to rove around, control the middle defensively,transition play into the attacking third AND take on the scoring load.  Heperformed admirably last year in this role, leading the team in scoring andpicking up a few Caps along the way, but Saturday night was a striking exampleof what the G.N. can do when he’s playing his natural defensive midposition.  It took him a few shaky minutes in the first half to settleback into his normal spot, and I was actually starting to have some Steve Zakuani flashbacks in the first half when things got testyin the middle and his tackles were finding more shins than soccer balls. After halftime though the Ninja came out and put his stamp on the match,disrupting the middle of the field play that represented the Crew’s bestchances in the first half and smoothly distributing the ball to our midfieldwith the class we’ve come to expect from the redhead.  He lookedcomfortable and effective playing in front of the back four where hebelongs.  I guess what I’m getting at here is you can open a can of soupwith a hammer, but you’re going to get a lot better results if you use a can opener. Last night Larentowicz got back to hammering nailsand was able to leave the can opening to those better equipped, and the resultsspeak for themselves.


JamieCastrillon– YES!!! WE HAVE AN ATTACKING CM!  I could write a whole other columnabout Jamie’s footwork, decision making, and sheer class going forward in hisdebut Saturday night, but the highlight package will do that for you.  Hiscombination play with Omar was intelligent and useful, and his decision makinghelped us get the best out of every run forward.  Dude just never forcedanything and took the easy pass when it made sense to keep the ball.  Great work.


TonyCascio– You may have heard this somewhere before, but Rome wasn’t built in aday.  Cascio had a “welcome to the MLS” typeperformance Saturday night, getting pushed around a bit and never reallyfinding a way to get involved in the quick one touch orchestration uptop.  We’ll give him a pass on this one and just say welcome to the teamTony!


OmarCummings – Omar wasactive and fast, and could have easily been the center piece of an articleabout his return to form and a 3-0 rout Saturday night, but instead he’s anafterthought because the finishing was just not there.  Omar was set up ona silver platter by our midfield (as well as the Crew’s) on more than oneoccasion and just couldn’t find pay dirt.  Dude does look healthy andcomfortable though, so I would expect better in the weeks to come.

Brian MullanMullan up top with the kid and Omar was a surpriseto me when I saw the lineup sheet, and though he was active and played welltracking back under some heat in the first half I feel like he also got lost inthe combination play up top and couldn’t influence the match in the attackingthird.  Changing positions will do that to you I suppose.  I do likehim on the corners though.  We didn’t have nearly as many of those whippednear post line drives to no one in particular that served as the poster boy forour set pieces last year.


AndreAkpan– Came on late for Omar as a substitution that had more to do with timeremaining than it ever could have with tactics.


WellsThompson – Came on forPablo, managed to not give up a goal or get kicked out of the match.  A++!


QuincyAmarikwa (!!!) – The Goat Assassin’s wonder strikewas the icing on the cake, if you haven’t seen it yet, minimize this swill andgo check it out.

The dead fish is hands down the mostannoying celebration in FIFA ’12 because it takes like 45 minutes to get thecut scene over and done with so you can get back to the task at hand. This goal though was truly dead fish - worthy though and I’m glad we got to seeit on our end.  Swing by the terraces next time Quincy… we’ll treat youright!


**mounting soapbox**


A word to the terraces aboutofficiating -- Hilario Grajedacalled an okay match for me.  He let some stuff go on both ends and probablycould have handed out a few more cards and been a little more stern on all theshoulder pulling that the Crew players were getting away with it, but all inall it was serviceable officiating with no real howlers to speak of.  Thatbeing said, I think we (the terraces) could be a little more level headed aboutsuch things.  Everything looks like a flop or a bad tackle when you loveyour team and you’ve been drinking all day.  I think it would serve us allwell to keep that in mind going forward and adjust the pissing and moaningaccordingly.


**dismounting soapbox**


Until next time Bobbies!


Paul… or @goat1803 for all youTwitter types.


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