A View From the South Stands: Mid-Season Review

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JULY 4: Post game fireworks entertain the crowd at Dick's Sporting Goods Park July 4, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Colorado Rapids played the Vancouver Whitecaps FC earlier and lost the game 1-0. Because of extremely dry and hot conditions across Colorado many cities had decided to cancel municipal fireworks shows and had outlawed any personal ones as well. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

What a rollercoaster season so far huh? In my first article I wrote about the first quarter of the season for our Burgundy Boys; now on to the second quarter. With our boys loss to Vancouver on July 4th we officially hit the halfway point of the season.

Since May 16th the Rapids are 2-4-1 (not including Open Cup games) with nine goals scored and allowing ten. In the Rapids two wins they scored a total of six goals, and in their four losses, they scored just one total goal. Also, in their two wins our boys gave up just two goals; while in the four losses they gave up six. In three of the losses matches, we lost by just one goal.

Those numbers tell a lot of the story from this up and down season, but it doesn’t show the whole story. May 16th our boys were without our top two strikers (Omar Cummings and Conor Casey), our center back (Marvell Wynne), and our left midfielder (Jamie Smith). Injuries are an easy excuse that most teams go to when they are under achieving, but when almost half of your starting lineup is out for extended periods of time there is going to be some struggles.

The biggest thing that has hampered the Rapids this season is lack of depth and experience. Our boys had no one that could fill in and give the quality of play of a Marvell Wynne, or had the chemistry of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey. And while Jaime Castrillon has had some spectacular goals he hasn’t been able to give the quality playing time that we are used to from Jamie Smith and Pablo Mastroeni.

We here at Burgundy Wave have written a lot about the lack of depth at center back. Scott Palguta and Tyrone Marshall have proven to be woefully ineffective in relief of Wynne. Both have shown that they cannot play 90 minutes, (as many of you know, Palguta is the Rapids running joke), and as our only subs at center back they are a glaring weakness.

With all new forwards for the greater part of the season so far (due to injuries to Cummings and Casey) there was bound to be missing chemistry. Cummings and Casey have played together for five years and have great chemistry together. With Caleb Folan and Macoumba Kandji being jettisoned this year that means that the only strikers we had on our roster that had played any time together were Andre Akpan and Quincy Amarikwa. It is going to take time for that chemistry to re-develop between Casey, Cummings, and new strikers Kamani Hill, Tony Cascio, and Edu.

While Pablo is still suffering from concussion like symptoms, the Rapids have gotten Jamie Smith back, which is a huge bonus for this team. Like I said before, Jaime Castrillon has provided some key goals for the Rapids, but unless he is in the box and someone is feeding him the ball he is pretty much invisible. With Smith coming back we are likely to see more shots from distance and better play from the wing. Smith is a better ball handler than Castrillon and is someone that is able to create opportunities for others rather than needing others to create them for him. Might I also add; he has a spectacular cross, and oh yes, he has heart.

I’ll continue with another big positive in getting Smith back is his ability to take shots from outside the 18. A prime example of this was seen on Wednesday when he came into the game. Within the first few minutes Smith took a ball and blasted a shot fromabout 25 yards out. That aggressiveness has been sorely lacking from the Rapids midfield this season.

Yes, there have been struggles and a lot of frustration so far this season, but with our boys finally getting healthy and Oscar Pareja getting the guys he feels are best for the team we can hopefully start to see the team we thought we were going to see from the start.

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