Another home match and it was not a win for the Colorado Rapids on a cold and stormy Friday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Despite having 65% of the possession and pinning the San Jose Earthquakes in their defensive end for most of the second half, the Rapids only managed a late stoppage time goal.
The attack was abysmal against a team that was putting everyone behind the ball. It improved a little when Vicente Sanchez came on but really didn't change until Charles Eloundou came on in the 74'. That is when the runs and trouble for the San Jose backline started. In the first half, the Rapids were getting forward with the ball, but when they would get to the final third, the support wasn't there. The attacker can not do much when it is 1 v 3 of 2 v 6. They need numbers in the box and the Rapids weren't getting it.
Going back to the first half, as a defender you can't turn off and that is what Lucas Pittinari did while covering Chris Wondolowski in the box. The first time was on the corner when Wondo scored. Lucas was with him up until the kick was made and then left him. He didn't learn on the next corner. Luckily Wondo only scored once. It is not a deep, dark secret that you don't leave Wondo uncovered in the box.
Here is how I saw the match.
Clint Irwin (7): Irwin was rarely troubled all night. He was schooled by Wondo, but that goal wasn't his fault. He was just trying to make himself big, but Wondo was able to touch it by him and then shoot. He had a couple big saves in the fouth minute to keep the Earthquakes off-the-board. He also caused some trouble for Adam Jahn as he was trying to seal the victory. Otherwise, the rest of the match was quiet for him.
James Riley (7): Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Riley was able to put the weak punch by David Bingham back across the goal and around some big heads to equalize at the 90+3 mark. But early in the second half, Riley failed to close Cordell Cato down and it led to a shot on target for the Earthquake defender. The Rapids have failed to close down on the break several times this season and it hurt them. Luckily it didn't hurt them in this match.
Drew Moor (5): Moor returned to the lineup after feeling something in his surgically repaired knee. I think it was kinda surprising with the rain soaked field to see him in the lineup, but Drew played well. He took the yellow card, but in Moor's defense it came from a bad back pass by Sjoberg. In the 87' Moor almost heads a chance to tie the match but Bingham gets a hand to it and deflects it past him.
Axel Sjoberg (6): At the end of the match the Rapids had a new forward. Sjoberg was seen up front rather than anchoring the back line. He had some good opportunities throughout the second half that could have easily been a goal. I think he was a little unlucky though. He is moving a lot more on the set pieces in the box and was finding ways to get open and to the ball.
Michael Harrington (5): It was a solid night from Harrington. Something you want from your right back. He did put in some good crosses. Harrington is becoming the iron man for the Colorado Rapids and is settled in at starting one of the back positions. This is the experience and talent the Rapids needed.
Lucas Pittinari (3): I think I summed Pittinari's match all up in the intro. Lucas had a bad night on the pitch. He just can not leave the player he is marking in the box. And if it is Wondolowski, he better be glued to him until Irwin has the ball, it is out for a goal kick, or the other side of midfield. Leaving Wondolowski is a no-no.
Sam Cronin (2): Only worse than Pittinari was the performance of Sam Cronin. He was rarely involved in the match. When he was proactive he was running towards the back line who had the ball and would pass it right back. When he got the ball in a more forward position, there were many bad passes. It just wasn't a good night for Sam which makes you wonder why no Serna or O'Neill in this position?
Gabriel Torres (6): Torres had another active night. He is playing well on the wing or on top. I think he may be thinking too much sometimes. As the first half ended, he had some good interplay with Dillon Powers. When Powers passed to Torres, he was slow to shoot and it allowed Bingham to get a good angle. When Torres made a great pass to Powers a couple minutes later, Powers first touch betrayed him. Torres also had some good movement with Sanchez when Torres laid the ball off to him and Sanchez forced a good save from Bingham.
Dillon Powers (6): Powers was moving all of the pitch. He was central and then he was wide. There was no consistency. He needs to stay central and distribute the ball or be there for the cross. When he was there, he set up some great opportunities and had a couple opportunities to score himself. He made a great pass to Eloundou who then deposited the ball into the south stands. He did make one major error. When Irwin through the ball out to him, he let it go by him and roll out of bounds. Powers needed to get a touch on that.
Juan Ramirez (5): One thing Ramirez will learn is that you can move the ball faster by passing it rather than trying to dribble through a double or triple team. There were several times when he tried to do this on Friday night and it ended like most of the others with a turnover. When he started moving the ball faster, the Rapids had better chances in the final third. One thing Ramirez learned on Friday night, you can't outrun Marvell Wynne.
Dominique Badji (3): As a target forward, Badji had a horrible match. He headed the ball on a couple times when no one was there and was offsides once. Though one offsides is an improvement, he needs to learn to hold his run. He had two shots but none on target. As the lone forward he needs to do more. After a promising start this season, he is shaping up to be a change of pace substitute rather than the forward we are looking for.
Vicente Sanchez (5): He came on at half time and as it progressed really amped up the Rapids attack giving them the spark that they needed. He took ten corners and was able to get three shots off with one on goal that really challenged Bingham. At 35 his age is starting to catch up with him and the speed is not quite there as it used to be. But his uncanny skill to dribble past a defender still makes him a great asset. The speed of Cato did give him trouble when Cato was on that side, but after Cato switched over to the right halfway through the second half, Sanchez started finding more room to run.
Charles Eloundou (4): I usually don't review players who came on after 70' but Charles' performance deserved a short comment. He got the pace up and brought some creativity on to the pitch, but missing that sitter in front of goal is something that you can't do.