Chalk Talk - Was the midfield really that bad?

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 25:Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls celebrates his goal with teamates Wilman Conde #2 and Markus Holgersson #5 against the Colorado Rapids at Red Bull Arena on March 25, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

As with last year, Burgundy Wave is going to use the wonderful Chalk Board feature from OptaSports to dissect the play of a player or two from the Colorado Rapids after every game. Follow along on the chalkboard for the Colorado Rapids vs. New York Red Bulls.

Statistically, you could barely tell that the game against New York on Sunday was so terrible a performance from Colorado. New York out shot the Rapids, but not by much. Possession was just about even, New York was fouling far more often than the Rapids were and the passing actually wasn't that bad at 82% accuracy.

What was the defining characteristic of the game? Simply the fact that Colorado handed New York a couple of chances on a silver platter that no good team could or would ever miss, especially with Thierry Henry on their side. The numbers tell a slightly different narrative than we were expecting, with the midfield being... well, honestly not all that bad.

The straight up numbers for a guy like Ross LaBauex really aren't all that terrible, looking back at them. In fact, the entire midfield looks a lot better on the paper than it seemed to in the game itself. Jaime Castrillon was playing the pivot - him being the most solid member of that midfield with Wells Thompson and LaBauex - and completed 43 passes to nine unsuccessful ones, not a bad clip.

Ross had decent numbers, with a 23/6 difference in passing. Unfortunately, one of those passes - and you can see it as the only red dot in a stream of green ones near the bottom of the pitch - was the game changer that gave Henry their first freebie. One mistake destroyed what was otherwise a decent if not good game from the replacement guy taking Pablo Mastroeni's spot.

Wells Thompson was invisible for most of the game, but it was a good kind of invisible with sharp passing overall and only four lost possessions from tackles. Heck, Wells might have had the best overall game in the midfield but not by much. If you're looking for someone who had a mediocre game, you should look for Brian Mullan who was playing the striker position.

The straight up numbers tell a slightly different story than I personally thought they would, and certainly don't seem to follow through with the 'Red Bulls dominate' story line that MLS was linking the Chalkboard with on their official website. Perhaps they didn't think anyone would actually read it? It was a game that cut with early mistakes and had the team playing catch up all game long, which under the circumstances led to a decent enough performance as they tried to push back but failed.

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