During preseason, when Anthony Wallace made his first few appearances with the Rapids following two straight years of injury setback after injury setback, he did not look good. He was slow, timid and struggled to stick with marks. A lot of fans took that to mean he had regressed and was now an awful choice. As the proprietor of the #FreeWally campaign two years ago, I wasn't quite so sure, instead insisting that he was probably still getting his sea legs under him.
Since then, we've seen Wally moved to left midfield instead of left back -- the emergence of Chris Klute certainly didn't hurt Colorado's case of not playing him, either -- and he had gotten 27 minutes of unremarkable substitute appearances total prior to the San Jose match on Saturday.
Something must have clicked in practice or somewhere else for Wallace, being Oscar Pareja gave him a second chance on Saturday. Late in the game, as the Rapids were trying desperately to find a goal or two to match their fantastic play, Pareja pulled Klute out of the game for Wallace. Yes, that meant Wallace was all of a sudden playing left back for the Colorado Rapids for the first time since August 6th, 2011.
To the surprise of pretty much everyone, Wally was masterful. He had only a few bad touches on the ball all evening, looked more technically sound than he ever did under Gary Smith, and came very close to snagging an assist a couple of times as well. It was the Wallace that the Rapids were hoping they would get when they originally traded for him from FC Dallas back in 2010.
Certainly, it was only a half-hour performance, and the game situation was far different from what one would normally see -- dominating a match while down a man isn't exactly an oft-written storyline -- but I liked the progression. Maybe Wallace starts to scratch his way onto that team sheet a bit more often with a performance like that under his belt.