Ah, it all seemed to be coming together for the Rapids during their game against the Crew. They continued a fine run of form, looked good in the process and, most importantly, started getting some of their big names back. A few days after the game, we're down another man with Edson Buddle being handed a single-game suspension after a fairly stupid challenge that earned him a yellow card. (Drew Moor being punched in the face, by the way, did not merit a card or a suspension. lolMLS and all that.)
It's unfortunate to lose Buddle, because he is quickly proving to be a valuable asset to the Rapids offense. It's not just his goal scoring, though two goals in two games is just what the doctor had ordered for this team, but also the steadiness he provides up front. When we called him a 'cheaper Conor Casey', we meant it, and he's showing us why. He keeps the possession steady with great hold up play and good touches when he's laying it off to a partner, just what you want to see from him. Thanks to his return against Toronto and Columbus, the Rapids got six points.
Against a San Jose team that likes to
kill people in boss the midfield, they're going to need all the possession help they can get. Martin Rivero being back will be a boon in that regard, Dillon Powers is awesome, and Nathan Sturgis looks like he was a very smart signing after a Hendry Thomas-esque performance against the Crew. In the back, they aren't bad off either, with two very good possession fullbacks in Brian Mullan and Chris Klute.
That leaves the forward spots, where we have a lot of speed and a lot of finesse, but not many guys who can hold the ball up like Buddle can.
Atiba Harris has shown occasional flashes of being able to play a possession game at the top, but he's far too erratic and prone to unfortunate decision making. Danny Mwanga is... well, Danny Mwanga is something, but that thing is not 'good at hold up play'. Kevin Harbottle and Tony Cascio aren't particularly suited for the role either. Who's left?
More like Who's That? (BroooOoOOooOOOoOoOoOOOooOOwn)
Deshorn Brown was pegged as a center forward before the season started, and he's not disappointed in that regard yet. He's big, he's fast and he's not all that bad with the ball at his feet. One thing he hasn't shown us yet, though, is an ability to play hold up ball. It's not that he has tried to do so and failed, it's just that I don't think he's been asked to try yet.
Can he do it? I'm sure he can, we've seen his strength and his craftiness a few times this season. The game against the Quakes will be a litmus test for him in that regard, as I doubt we're going to see a return to the 4-3-3 right away, and until we've got three forwards helping each other in the final third with Rivero right behind them, hold up play will be the easiest way to get goals created. I loved the formation that Pareja pulled out against the Crew, by the way. A 4-1-3-2, was it?
The real question is, will Brown start? If he does, I can't think of anyone I'd rather have holding the ball up. And as we've seen the past few games, holding the ball up can help you put balls in the back of the net.