It's been an evening since the big game. We've all slept off our jovial drunkenness, or at the very least attempted to. There's confetti and streamers in our hair and on our walls, I assume we'll clean it off later. We've ordered our new Rapids Championship gear - a kit with a star, a shirt with the cup, a scarf with "Champion" on it, Burgundy or not - and we've begun our lives again. Some of us have the day off and are at our homes or with our friends, some of us have gone back to work after an eventful Sunday, some of us are in school but we as Rapids fans can all cling now to our one thing in common.
Today, we've all woken up champions.
Since the 'game recap' last night hardly was at all, here's a collection of thoughts and whatnot from the game last night.
* Dallas is a damn good squad and they showed it last night. In so many of the pre-game reports by various other writers I saw that the general idea was if the game was going quickly back and forth it was probably to a Dallas advantage considering their style of play. They were able to force quick play and keep the Rapids on the counter-attack for some pretty serious stretches there during the game, using their style of play to perfection. If there is a team I'm rooting for to upset the Rapids championship repeat run next season, it's the Hoops. They play some very nice football.
* The referee Toledo was flat out awful. He lost control of this game incredibly quickly, missing a possible PK for both teams and calling touches on all sides that nobody could think were fouls. Conor Casey and several other players probably could have been sent off had the ref been handing out yellows like he probably should have as the game escalated in violence early. He called the end of time as Colorado were setting up for a corner kick, something I don't think I've EVER seen happen in a game, MLS or not. Both squads worth of players, for their part, seemed to deal with the referee professionally enough excepting a few egregious scenarios. Even then, I probably would have punched the damn ref in some of those scenarios so I guess the players were more professional than myself.
* I cannot believe that so many writers, fans et al. are calling Casey's goal a "lucky goal". It was the same sort of goal that Casey always scores - a hard fought, ugly goal he got from working his heart out in the box. Credit to Jamie Smith for a nice pass to set it up, but do you really think Omar Cummings or Brian Mullan in that situation would have had the sight and strength to so quickly snap the ball into the net from that position on the rebound? To call George John's own goal from Kandji a good goal would obviously be silly, but I won't be shaken in my resolve that the Casey goal - while not "pretty" - was brilliant.
* That said, I agree with Big D Soccer's assessment that "Casey Conor" (lol ESPN) should not have won the MVP award. Matt Pickens had some borderline brilliant stops during this game and easily could have picked up the man of the match award himself there. I suppose goals always trump saves in the minds of many football fans.
* Credit must go to Gary Smith for once again making what may have been an unpopular move at the time that wound up paying dividends. I know that I personally along with many others were going mad waiting for Smith to finally use one of his substitutes. But credit Gary for believing in his squad to take it to extra time, bringing in his most energetic player in Wells Thompson and saving Mac Kandji for the bitter end, the best move of the night considering Kandji's immediate impact. Had he wasted a substitute earlier in the match during the more middling moments for Colorado as we were screaming requests for, perhaps they still score the goal but the team as a whole are too tired to hold off the late Dallas attack. Gary Smith is a brilliant tactician.
* I'm rather concerned about Brian Mullan going forward. He looked very tired and ineffective out there, as though the weight of the season and the 90 minutes he had been putting in per game finally caught up to him. I've said before how incredible it is that he has been able to keep his speed and demeanor despite his age, but it looks like the last legs of his career truly have started. I do hope they keep him next year, but perhaps a high draft pick or a trade should be used for another high caliber right midfielder just in case his age has finally caught up to him.
* Why does Omar Cummings stink to the heavens so highly against Dallas? This is the third straight game against them now that he has been not just invisible on the pitch but noticeably out of his game. He was looking for the pass so many times when he should have shot, over-running the ball as he did right before Dallas scored their lone goal and all around playing like he was uninterested. Perhaps it was the leg injury that was keeping his game down but it is a disturbing trend against Dallas to see him put in underwhelming performances time and time again.