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Chalk Talk - Tony Cascio Impresses


As with last year, Burgundy Wave is going to use the wonderful Chalk Board feature from OptaSports to dissect the play of a player or two from the Colorado Rapids after every game. Follow along on the chalkboard for the Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union.

The Colorado Rapids did not have a very impressive game all told against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, but managed to pull out a 2-1 win at PPL Park. Just a look at the stats shows that it wasn't a great day for Colorado; the shots were 20-9, they had a 65% passing accuracy and they were down 55-45 in possession. There were some bright spots though, especially the back four and the play of rookie Tony Cascio.

Looking at last week, there was marked improvement from the rookie. He passed more often and more successfully (11 successful passes last week, 17 this week with no raise in unsuccessful passes) and just plain old spent more time around the ball. He attempted more dribbles, he attempted more headers and of course, he ended up getting a great shot that turned into a goal after playing strong on the ball against a weak center back in Chris Albright.

Heck, all you have to do is compare the two heat maps to see how Cascio was roaming far more around the field, a necessity in the high winger/striker role that he was playing in the new 4-3-3.

Cascio still has issues, obviously. He's still not quite used to the speed of MLS play which is why he has lost possession from being tackled so often in his first few games. He also spent most of his time around the middle area of the park, a bit too far down as it tended to isolate Omar Cummings up in the high position, which left Omar far too often looking to beat two or three defenders at a time. Those are both fixable issues though, especially if Cascio continues to grow.

It's good that he's getting involved in a lot more plays though (47 his first game, 60 his second) because up in his position he needs to provide good passing around the pitch and set up whoever his central striker is if he doesn't shoot it himself.