A View From The South Stands: Defense Wins Championships

SANDY, UT - APRIL 7: Alvaro Saborio #15 of Real Salt Lake is pushed in the back as Drew Moor #3 of Colorado Rapids heads the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game April 7, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Growing up, defense was my favorite position to play in soccer (I played defense for 10 years). But watching the Rapids defense this year, I have been sorely disappointed. Except for Drew Moor, every defender on the team I would rate as sub par this year.

Kosuke Kimura, one of my favorite players (interesting side note some friends of mine made their sons’ middle name Kosuke), has been uncharacteristically average this year. While we are usually able to see his speed and athleticism help him track down defenders and keep them pinned to the side; he seems too concerned about dribbling the ball forward and moving up the field leaving his area free to attacks from our opponents.

Marvell Wynne is a stellar defender, but with his continual injuries (not blaming him for getting hurt at all here) our defense has taken a huge step back. Also, is Wynne injury prone? He has missed time last year and is missing extended time this year as well. For all of his positives, and there are a lot, his injuries are adding up and that is a huge negative.

Drew Moor is probably the most consistent thing we have going on the Rapids. He never misses a game, works his tail off, and is a true leader. My biggest gripe with him would be that I don’t see him communicating with his defenders as much as he should. He rightfully deserves to be the Rapids captain right now, but he needs to let his voice be heard out on the pitch.

Those are really the three mainstays on the Rapids Defensive line. With Anthony Wallace out AGAIN due to injury, and it looks like the Luis Zapata experiment has been a failure, we have had to rely on a former Rapid turned journeymen to solidify the left side of our defense. I was a little skeptical when I saw that the Rapids signed Hunter Freeman and after his brief first appearance my worries were not relieved. However, watching Freeman play these last few games I have come away with a totally different attitude. Freeman’s tenacity on the pitch has paid dividends for the Rapids. He has solidified the left back position with his hustle and never-give-up attitude. His play in the Sporting Kansas City game is proof of that.

Tyrone Marshall and Scott Palguta are such big questions that having them on the team right now may be more trouble than it’s worth. Marshall gave us some great minutes last years when we really needed it but he is at best right now a sub. It is not his fault though that he has been thrust into the starting lineup due to injury.

Scott Palguta has become a joke. He is the Mark Madsen of the Rapids (anyone get the reference?). He has no presence on the pitch, he has no voice, and the only thing that he adds is a head in the box on corner kicks.

The Rapids lack of depth on Defense is a scary prospect for the rest of the season. The front office needs to do something now to get better back on defense or we will most likely see another season of just barely getting into the playoffs and being done in the first round.

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