The Colorado Rapids penchant for gift-wrapping goals for Sporting Kansas City continued Tuesday night. Similar to what unfolded when Sporting visited Dicks last month, Kansas City pounced on a couple Rapids defensive miscues and advanced to the Open Cup quarterfinals.
Not that it was a breeze. Despite lacking key players due to injury, the Rapids looked sharp for stretches of the game, especially early in the second half when they seized the tempo and zipped through the midfield. But Sporting's 79th-minute goal doomed any hopes for another Colorado comeback against the Powder Blues.
Adding misery to another premature Open Cup exit was the yielding of easy goals to Aurelien Collin (Pickens took the own goal but Collin made it happen) and Teal Bunbury. The thuggish duo crashed and elbowed into Rapids at every opportunity, with Collin receiving a well-deserved yellow for smashing into Edu.
Both teams went with a 4-3-3, but the Rapids offensive trio of Wells Thompson, Tony Cascio (replaced at half by Kamani Hill) and Edu proved anemic, mustering only six shots (three on frame) by late in the second half. Colorado didn't earn a corner kick until the 77th minute. This would have been a different game had Conor Casey and Omar Cummings been in the lineup.
Without further Edu … er, adieu … here's our ratings:
0 - Awful, horrible, why is he even on the field!?
1-3 - Poor. Why is he starting?
4-6 - Decent. Played a reasonable game, but could have done much more.
7-9 - Great game! Did nearly everything right with few mistakes
10 - Perfect game.
Matt Pickens — 7
Pickens played his usual solid game and can't be blamed for either goal. He made a brilliant diving save on Collin's initial shot only to have the ball ricochet off the post and deflect off his back into net.
Hunter Freeman — 5
On the plus side, Freeman played a gritty game and surged into the offensive zone more than usual. On the down side, he had a giveaway at midfield that almost turned into a Kansas City goal and weakly challenged Graham Zusi's cross that resulted in Sporting's second goal.
Tyrone Marshall — 4
Once again, Kansas City ate Marshall's lunch on a first-half set piece. Collin slipped into the center of the box between Marshall and Scott Palguta for the unmolested header to the far post. Let's hope Marvell Wynne (hamstring) can return to lineup by the summer solstice.
Scott Palguta — 3.5
Palguta got a rare start in central defense and played decent, with the exception of losing track of Collin on the first goal. Early in the game, the central duo of Palguta-Marshall also inexplicably allowed a long Matt Besler throw-in to land at Chance Myers's feet in front of goal. By pure luck, Myers wasn't able to control it and the ball bounced harmlessly over the crossbar.
Kosuke Kimura — 3.5
Kimura had his hands full trying to contain the much larger C.J. Sapong. He had an early mixup with Marshall in the box that may have proved costly had Marshall not cleared the ball. Failed to clear with his head the Zusi 79th-minute cross into the box. The ball subsequently fell to Bunbury's foot in front of net for the second goal.
Jaime Castrillon — 3.5
Castrillon remains a weak link in the midfield. He disappeared for large stretches and let chances to make an impact go wanting. He torpedoed a great breakaway chance in the second half by running offside to receive Edu's pass. Likewise, he should have done much better with a point-blank shot off an excellent cross by Martin Rivero.
Martin Rivero — 7
One of the best Rapids players on the night. Rivero should have notched several assists with nicely taken free kicks, crosses and through balls, but the finishes weren't there. Rivero was largely responsible for the improved Rapids' tempo in the second half. Still, he seems more effective in the diamond midfield availed by a 4-4-2 rather than the 4-3-3.
Jeff Larentowicz — 6.5
Sturdy and burly as ever in the defensive midfield. Larentowicz never fails to calm things down and rev the engine of Rapids possession when play turns ragged. He bore the brunt of Sporting's physical tactics and would have broke free for a 58th-minute strike if not for a tackle from behind (no whistle).
Tony Cascio — 4.5
As the season wears on, the rookie's form has tailed off a bit. Perhaps he's getting used to the grind of the professional schedule. Aside from a couple forays into the box — notably one where he beat three Sporting defenders before uncorking a shot that went wide — he didn't look as dangerous as earlier in the season. Perhaps a signal of his fatigue, he went off at halftime.
Edu — 4
Sniper misfire in the Brazilian's first start. Even when he's come off the bench, Edu hasn't looked especially dangerous, and this game did little to change that view.
Wells Thompson — 4
Thompson was his usual self running all over the field — even helping frequently in defense — but did little to add oomph to the anemic Colorado attack. He was on the receiving end of a nice Rivero flick over the Sporting back line, but was unable to convert on one of the Rapids' better first-half opportunities.
Kamani Hill (46) on for Cascio — 4
Hill didn't look quite as sharp as he has in other games, but still added flashes of speed and technical skill that the opposition has to respect. His header could have been better off a nice Rivero free-kick service into the box.
Andre Akpan (75) on for Thompson — 3
Nothing of any significance out of Akpan in limited minutes. Came into the game minutes before Rapids lost all momentum on the second Kansas City goal.
Ross LaBauex (85) on for Castrillon — N/A