Jose Mari is my new favorite Rapids player. No, not because he gave Colorado three points they would have most assuredly lost without his incredible goals. And no, not because his nickname works with one of my all-time favorite Ray Hudson quotes. It's because of what he did all day Saturday that he had yet to do this season. What's that you ask? Perfectly settle into his role with the Rapids.
Colorado had their fair share of trouble against the Whitecaps this past weekend. For me, it was easily the worst game they've played thus far. The defense wasn't communicating well, they had ZERO width in a game where a speedy winger or a healthy Chris Klute would have gobbled up open space like Cookie Monster at an Otis Spunkmeyer factory, and most of the midfield looked like they were playing a new formation for the first time (because they were). But other than Clint Irwin, who always works right, the only other thing that worked perfectly was Jose Mari as a traditional No. 6.
I said before that once Jose Mari settle into the league and his new club, he could be phenomenal. It seems he's proven me right. I was (and still am) not a fan of the 4-4-2 diamond the Rapids played Saturday, but the way Jose Mari fit as the lone holding midfielder makes me want to see it again. Take a look at Mari's distribution and shot stats from the Whitecaps game HERE.
I mean, are you kidding me? What more could you ask for from your holding mid? His passing influence was all over the field, and he broke up a number of plays from Vancouver when they came through the middle. You won't find better stats from Kyle Beckerman, Diego Chara, or Osvaldo Alonso this week. Now, imagine if Mari played this well in a diamond 4-4-2 where the midfielders around him were slightly more comfortable in their roles; perhaps play a little wider?
That being said, I still want to see the Rapids in their traditional 4-2-3-1 next week against Toronto. I don't believe Jose Mari's influence is limited when playing along side a box-to-box midfielder, as long as he, and whoever plays along side him, know their roles. That had been a problem in the first two games with Mari and LaBrocca: who's the 6 and who's the 8? It seems "El Matador" emphatically answered that question last weekend, and, hopefully, he'll have opposing teams seeing red every week.