The Colorado Rapids began 2011 with a statement win over the Portland Timbers, and had a similar statement on Saturday as they beat the Columbus Crew 2-0. The statement this time wasn't as much of a 'we weren't the flukes you think we were' statement as it was a 'we still know what we're doing' statement for a team that has a whole bundle of "what if"s about their season.
Colorado started fairly weak against a Crew team that were clearly of a lesser quality, but looked like they had more to play for. As expected, there are still some kinks in the new system and they needed a full half to catch their sea legs, but it paid off for them in the end. The Crew played a chippy game with a referee more than happy to give out fouls to both teams, though their actual chances at goal were less frequent than Colorado's.
An awful mistake by keeper Andy Gruenebaum - playing in place of William Hesmer - showed why he is the backup and gifted Kosuke Kimura a chance to feed Drew Moor in the 44th minute for the first goal of the season. After that late goal to finish the first half, the Rapids never looked back and proceeded to take control of the second half with high quality possession football.
It took a while for the Rapids to score another goal, but they were the better team in the second half, keeping the possession to themselves, avoiding as many fouls as the first frame, and putting together far better offensive maneuvers, which led to a bunch of corner kicks and chances.
Late sub Quincy Amarikwa of all people wound up sealing the deal in the 88th minute as he let rip a lovely shot from the top of the box that nestled perfectly into the high corner of the net. Perhaps the speculation about Amarikwa being much improved under the new system is all true? There would certainly be no complaints from over here. Remember, this was also a somewhat injured team for the Rapids, and also missing Martin Rivero. The potential is even higher than they showed against Columbus.
That's it guys, first kick is over and the Rapids have three wonderful points to start the 2012 campaign. For the Crew fans look on things, you can check out Massive Report.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Drew Moor. Brilliant defense as usual and a great header. Kosuke Kimura was brilliant as well with two assists.
GOAT OF THE MATCH - Omar Cummings. The game would have been 5-0 if Cummings had any accuracy.