The home opener finally came on March 12 and gave most of us the opportunity to see the new look Colorado Rapids in person. In fact, almost 18,000 people came out to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park came out to see the Rapids beat the LA Galaxy 1–0 and get three points.
The goal came on a wonderful volley by Marco Pappa in the 95’. The Rapids really blistered the goal in the second half with shots by Dominique Badji and Shkelzen Gashi that forced Brian Rowe into some full-out saves. Kevin Doyle even had some good opportunities.
The one player that stood out for me was Mekeil Williams. Seeing him in person playing as the right back. He was a beast and shutdown Gyasi Zardes. I think this is going to be a good signing for the Rapids and he may be solidifying his role as the starting right back.
Williams was not the only defender doing quite well in this match. The backline overall did a good job and limited the Galaxy to a couple opportunities in the first half. In fact, the Galaxy only had one shot on goal the entire match.
This was a very physical game, but the Rapids didn’t back down. There were some questionable calls on both sides by Referee Fotis Bazakos. But this led to the midfield getting clogged and not allowing many opportunities.
Here is how I saw the match. Don’t forget to see the community ratings in parenthesis with each player.
Zac MacMath - 7 (7.15) Zac was solid all night but was only really tested a couple times all evening. He was on his toes helped keep the ball out of the net. He was playing more of a sweeper in the second half, distributing the ball well all evening.
Marc Burch - 7 (6.38) He did not deserve the yellow card for his foul late in the first half. Yes it was a foul, not for the initial challenge, but for going over the ball and into Sebastian Lletget. He had a solid performance and did a good job pushing forward into attack and getting crosses in.
Jared Watts - 6 (6.90) Watts was strong and did not do anything out of the ordinary. There were some missed marks, one led to a great opportunity that Robbie Keane probably should have put into the back of the net in the first half.
Axel Sjoberg - 8 (6.51) Axel is solidifying his role as a top center back in MLS. He has and continues to get under the skin of forwards. He did it last year to Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City and continued that in this match against Keane. Sjoberg had him completely frustrated. It was a good performance all around.
Mekeil Williams - 8 (7.03) Williams was one of the best players and completely shut down one of the best, young U.S. Men’s National Team Players in Zardes. This is good for the Rapids and may not be good for the U.S. Men’s National Team. He had some good approval of the crowd at Dick’s.
Sam Cronin - 6 (6.89) Sam was lucky not to get yellow. When Lletget cut in from the right side and was clipped by Cronin, it probably should have been a yellow. Otherwise he did get a shot on goal.
Micheal Azira - 7 (7.08) Micheal received the player of the match and was strong distributing the ball from the back. He had one foul and that probably should not have been called. He is showing early signs of a good player and going to make Pablo’s decision hard when Jermaine Jones comes into the lineup.
Dillon Powers - 7 (6.70) Powers was quite strong on the ball and was able to turn a few times while maintaining possession. He also was able to draw a foul on Steven Gerrard, though I am not sure Gerrard thought it was a foul.
Dominique Badji - 6 (6.01) When Badji used his speed in the match he troubled the Galaxy defense. He left A.J. DeLaGarza in the first half, went right after Jelle Van Damme who barely got the ball from Badji and then used his speed to cut inside and get a good shot off. He needs to do more of that.
Shkelzen Gashi - 7 (7.34) Gashi is going to get some goals in MLS. He tried to get the ball past Rowe and forced some good saves. Two of the saves forced Rowe to layout for the ball. This is a good sign and the ball will start going in soon.
Kevin Doyle - 5 (6.50) Doyle got one shot off and did draw two fouls. He had another cross that went to no one. His teammates need to be looking for that back post run when he is out wide. He got a stupid yellow late in the match. Rowe baited him into that one.
Marco Pappa - 8 (8.45) What a volley by Pappa. Once he came on, you saw a difference in the team. He was directing where the ball should go and generating many chances. He made the pass into Doyle who tried to redirect it and after a header by Daniel Steres it found Pappa’s foot.
Dillon Serna - NA (5.94) Serna came in the 83rd minute. Too late to be rated in this column but it was nice to see him running around the field celebrating after the final whistle.
That is how I saw the match. What do you think?