What a tough stretch for the Colorado Rapids. They had three matches in 8 days and it included two, back-to-back road matches on each coast. It doesn't get any worse than that.
For the two road matches at New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy, if you would have asked me if I would have been satisfied with a tie in each match, I probably would have said yes. But after watching both matches, I feel that the Colorado Rapids could have had so much more.
Against the Galaxy they were the better side for most of the match. It took a mistake from Shane O'Neill that left Alan Gordon open on the corner and he was able to head it home. For most of the night, the Rapids did a good job holding their shape, pressuring the ball and breaking effectively.
Overall it was a good match for the Rapids, one they will be kicking themselves for not bringing the three points home.
Here is how I saw the match.
Clint Irwin (6): It wasn't that exciting of a match for Clint. The Galaxy didn't have many opportunities, only putting three shots on target all night. He had no chance on the Gordon goal. That was just too far out of his reach.
Michael Harrington (7): Harrington did a good job down the line in this match. He helped contain the Galaxy attack that was looking to come down the right side. His one-touch to Torres led to the goal for the Rapids. Nice assist for Harrington. He has played every minute for the Rapids this season. I keep thinking he will get a break soon, but he keeps getting put in the lineup.
Axel Sjoberg (5): Sjoberg is a great asset for the Rapids. He towers above many of the players on the pitch and is also taller than Omar Gonzales. He uses that size effectively to defend and also cause problems on corners, especially against the Galaxy. He and O'Neill were susceptible to the long ball over the top a couple of times. Luckily for the Rapids the Galaxy didn't get a good shot on goal, though they should have scored.
Shane O'Neill (4): It was nice to see O'Neill in the starting XI for this match. Overall he had a solid night except for the mistake that led to Gordon's goal. The rest of the night he was in a good position except for the long balls over the top in the first half. He and Sjoberg were caught flat-footed on those.
James Riley (6): Riley handled the right back position well all game. His unfortunate yellow, though quick, probably was deserved. He did get caught by Zardes in the first half when a bad back pass came his direction, but he got in position and was able to dispossess him and quell the opportunity.
Lucas Pittinari (3): Not only did Pittinari fail to score on one opportunity, he failed on two. In the first half Dillon Powers put in an excellent free kick and it went right to him with only the goalie in front of him. He flubbed it. Late in the second half on another free kick he got behind and put a header that rattled the frame. Cronin followed it up and put it in, but it was called back because Pittinari was offsides. He should have finished the first one and should never have been offsides because he was at the end of the wall looking back at everyone. He has played every minute of every match, perhaps it is time to give him a match off.
Sam Cronin (5): It is good to have Cronin back and I am sure he is looking forward to Friday's match against his old team. Cronin was steady all night and had a goal taken away from him by Pittinari's offsides. For me the non-scoring moment of the night is when he got in front of Bradford Jamieson. Jamieson ran right up his back and then hit the ground not knowing what happened. That is experience from Cronin.
Juan Ramirez (4): Ramirez can dribble the ball well, but as I discussed in the player ratings of the New York Red Bulls match, he holds onto the ball too long and also tries to dribble through too many players. There was one moment in this match that illustrates this point. In the second half he spins in the defensive half to get some space and instead of just clearing the ball he tries to be too cute with it and turns it over in a dangerous position. He can dribble, but he needs to get rid of the ball quicker.
Dillon Powers (6): Powers put in a couple good free kicks. One that Pittinari flubbed in front of net and the other where Pittinari was offsides. The ball was played perfectly each time. But as the match went along, you could see his legs were getting tired and it was a good time to sub him off for Vicente Sanchez.
Nick LaBrocca (4): LaBrocca was lucky not to be sent off for a foul on Ignacio Maganto after he earned his yellow card. It possibly could have been a second yellow. Otherwise he didn't have much of an evening.
Gabriel Torres (8): Gabby was my Man of the Match for the Rapids on this Saturday evening. He scored the goal and kept working all evening, pressing all over the field. He came close a couple of times to catching Penedo on clearing kicks. On the goal, if you watch Torres, he actually pulls away from the Galaxy defenders while he is dribbling. That shows some skill and speed. I am glad Torres is starting to turn into the player the Rapids thought they were getting.
Dominique Badji (4): Badji had only one real opportunity and that ball was kicked wildly to the opposite touchline. He worked the hold up play for most of the time he was on. Otherwise nothing much from Badji in this match.
Dillon Serna (N/A)
Vicente Sanchez (N/A)
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?