My pregame ritual normally starts with me stalking the Colorado Rapids' Twitter account an hour before kickoff for the starting lineup. Lo and behold there it was:
Wut... I know many of us here at Burgundy Wave were calling for younger players to get playing time, but not at the expense of benching our CAPTAIN Drew Moor and our starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin. Another gripe with the lineup is that Sam Cronin has gotten the start yet again, though I am firmly in the Jared Watts as a DM camp. Other than those two issues with the starting lineup I find it quite nice to see Dominique Badji, Marlon Hairston, Dillon Powers, and Axel Sjöberg on the field at the same time.
Another positive to this lineup is that Pablo has finally stopped playing with six plus strictly defensive players. We finally have two aggressive-minded fullbacks in the lineup. Part of the reason why a 4-2-3-1 can be so dangerous is the overlapping fullbacks. They provide width while the left and right midfielders push forward and into the box. Let's see if that is what Pablo Mastroeni is expecting of his fullbacks. NOW ON TO THE GAME! (I really hope this doesn't become depressing)
Minute 0: I have my old fashioned ready. Sporting Kansas City takes the kickoff. Also the Rapids are wearing their yellow kits. I like the yellow kits. We also have Sporting's announcers on MLS Live.
Minute 1: There is a definite disconnect still between the defensive and attacking Rapids. Hairston concedes a corner which is kinda expected for a player still learning his new position.
Minute 3: Nice quick counter by the Rapids. Badji has a good cross across the box, but Luis Solignac airs the ball over the net. Chromecast fails for the first time.
Minute 11: Why is Solignac playing so deep and Figueroa playing so forward? Also, Pablo's game plan has become apparent and has already been stated by the announcer. We're parking the bus already and hoping to score on the counter. FML.
Minute 13: Hairston gets burned by Dom Dwyer on the outside of the box, but with so many Rapids players in the box Dwyer's cross comes to nothing. Chromecast fails for the second time.
Minute 19: Excellent recovery by Hairston; he has shown a lot of poise so far. This was followed by a good cross to Doyle who avoids the offside trap to get a shot on goal. Game has slowed down considerably with Sporting content to pass in the backfield to avoid a turnover to the parked Rapids. Chromecast fails the third time.
Minute 25: Terrible free kick by Sporting hit straight towards Zac MacMath. A bad turnover in midfield results to a Sporting chance that MacMath quickly scoops up. MacMath seems to be playing for the starting spot next year.
Minute 27: There is absolutely no pressure on Sporting's back line when they have the ball. Maybe I'm asking too much for the Rapids to even remotely press the ball...
Minute 29: Again, WHY IS SOLGINAC PLAYING SO FAR BACK? He just jogs into the attack when Figueroa and Hairston have already been involved for a few seconds.
Minute 31: I have come to my own conclusion that parking the bus does not work for the Rapids. Too many of our players like being involved with the ball. They are eager to go on attack and are out of position if the ball is turned over right away. Several of the chances Sporting has had are because of that.
Minute 34: You cannot give the ball away that close to your goal. This is what a high press can do! Though the quick counter by the Rapids afterward is what can happen if the other team breaks it.
Minute 37: More bus parking comments by the announcers. Chromecast fails a fourth time. I'm beginning to think some higher power does not want me to watch this game.
Minute 40: So many fouls; we need more technical defensive midfielders, like Marcelo Sarvas.
Minute 43: I'm alright with Sporting taking all these shots from outside the 18. More comments about bunker ball from the announcers.
End of First Half:
Well the only highlight of this half were that the Rapkids were playing quite well vs the Vapids on the field. Parking the bus is getting on my nerves, when you play that way from the start it becomes a detriment to the team. I want to see Cronin subbed off for Juan Ramirez, Vicente Sanchez, or Gabriel Torres. I am also starting to lose interest in the game. There is only so much bunker ball that I can take in one sitting. Also more comments by the Sporting announcers about the Rapids "killing the mood" and playing boring soccer. I see our reputation precedes us...
Beginning of Second Half:
Minute 55: I have missed the first ten minutes of the second half because Chromecast has failed a fifth time. Apparently Sporting had come out and put some pressure on the Rapids until now.
Minute 60: I don't see any players warming up for a sub yet for the Rapids. I would really like to see more active and game-changing subs from the Rapids here. Chromecast fails a sixth time.
Minute 63: Announcers say that Sporting has only had one shot out of their 10 on target. This is a good thing, limiting shots on target prevents goals. Why can't they do this when Irwin is in the net?
Minute 66: So many corners for Sporting, but I would rather have a corner than a decent shot on goal.
Minute 69: Still no subs... Clock is ticking... Though these announcers have been pretty good. Some of my favorite opposing team announcers that I have heard so far. Also Rapids commit more fouls than anybody else in the league with 14 per game.
Minute 70: MacMath uses the force to push that ball over the net.
Minute 73: More Jedi magic from MacMath. Are all of the Rapids goalkeepers Jedi? Finally a sub by the Rapids! But it is a like for like with Ramirez coming on for Badji. Why would we sub off one of our better performing players this game?
Minute 77: POWERS WITH THE CHIP OVER THE GOALKEEPER! THAT IS WHY HE IS AND SHOULD BE THE FACE OF THE FRANCHISE.
Minute 79: Dive by Ramirez. I don't know if that is the correct call. Still, Ramirez should have continued with the ball than try and win a free kick.
Minute 80: Squeaky bum time as the Rapids play bunker ball for 10+ minutes and allow Sporting to run all over them (I really hope this isn't the case).
Minute 82: Sarvas comes on for Powers... Another terrible substitution from the bench. Now Cronin gets a second yellow. Cronin definitely should have been subbed off rather than Powers especially since he was on a yellow. I would never allow that type of liability to stay on the field. I'm preparing myself for a loss now and my drink is empty. Oh no.
Minute 85: What in the hell am I watching. The Rapids just scored twice, with the second goal coming when they are down a man. I am now speechless. Good goal from Sarvas though.
Minute 88: Ramirez should have passed to Doyle there. I understand that the free kick will drain more time from the clock though.
Minute 90: Four minutes of stoppage time. We are now four minutes from our first win in six games. This is not a drill.
End of Second Half:
The Rapids have won the game, though I would attribute this win completely due to the players trying to prove they deserve a spot on the team. Yes, parking the bus prevented Sporting from scoring any goals, but it also prevented the Rapids from threatening the goalkeeper most of the night. There were many close chances, but luck turned for the Rapids this game as well. We need to stop the über-defensive tactics and start playing more aggressively.
Well that was an interesting game. At least we won another trophy. Apparently in rivalry games we are champions with both the Rocky Mountain Cup and Midwestia Belt in our possession. I'm going to call it a night. Hope you enjoyed this look into the mind of The Backseat Manager during a game.