A View From The South Stands

April 21, 2012; Commerce City, CO, USA; during the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.The Galaxy defeated the Rapids 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The Rapids blew it Saturday! Yes, yes I know they clawed their way back and pulled a draw with one of the better teams in the MLS, but considering Sporting Kansas City came into Dicks Sporting Goods Park having lost three matches in a row the Rapids were in prime position to get a win.

Being their first home match since April; one would think the Rapids would come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. WRONG! Not only did they not come out firing on all cylinders, but also they stalled out completely letting KC score in the second minute of the game. And that wasn’t the only mental breakdown. The Rapids decided that being down by one goal was just not enough and that Sporting KC needed to score one more time. Teal Bunbury scored his second goal of the game in the fourteenth minute.

The entire first half of the game the Rapids looked uninterested and complacent. The defense is obviously missing a step with Marvel Wynne being out. Tyrone Marshall has been showing his age lately and the first half of this game was more of the same. But Marshall was not the only defensive goat in the first half. Kosuke Kimura’s lack of intensity lead to an early first goal for KC; had Kimura challenged Seth Sinovic at all he probably would not have gotten his cross off that lead to the first goal after barely a minute of play.

The brightest spot for the Rapids D has got to be Hunter Freeman. Freeman is enjoying more and more playing time (getting to play the entire game against KC), and showing a tenacity that has been lacking from the Rapids defenders. I won’t pretend to know what it takes to play defense at the caliber of any professional soccer player, but I will say that the way Freeman and Drew Moor play should be what we expect from every defender on the Rapids. Kosuke seems too interested in driving up the wing, and less interested in challenging the opposing strikers. I have been longing for Gary Smith’s defense all year. While I love Pareja’s offensive game plan it seems to have come at the expense of our defense.

I know, I know the Rapids have sported 4 shutouts this year but that has been more due to Matt Pickens (to borrow a hockey term) standing on his head. Pickens has been making incredibly saves all year long because the Rapids seem less and less focused on what won them the championship two years ago (a stellar defense and timely goals). While Gary Smith’s Rapids weren’t the prettiest team in the MLS; their defensive aggression was something that could always be counted on.

The second half of the game was the definition of a 180 degree turn. The defense became solid, challenge every ball, making timely runs, and clearing the call perfectly. All four defenders shored up their game and turned in a dominating performance. Marshall looked like he had taken anti-aging pills, while Freeman, and Kimura locked down the wings. Moor looked to be more vocal than he was in the first half of the game and he made some key stops and clears along the way as well.

Like I said in the beginning though, the Rapids blew this game. Had they come out in the first half with the intensity and passion that they showed in the second there is no way they would have given up the two goals that they did.
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