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Player Ratings: Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake, May 7, 2016

Solid defense, good goal keeping and a great strike by Jermaine Jones lead the Rapids to a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

Williams wins the ball and gets it to Gashi.
Williams wins the ball and gets it to Gashi.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this must-win match on Saturday night, Colorado Rapids’ supporters were nervous but confident that the Rapids could get a result at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Must-win you ask? If the Rapids would have lost this match, they would have given up the Rocky Mountain Cup. If they would have tied, it would have made the last leg at the end of August a pretty tough ask of the team to keep the cup.

But the Rapids showed that they will Keep Fighting and beat Real Salt Lake 1–0 in an exciting match on a cool evening in Commerce City. The first half provided some good scoring opportunities for each team, but neither could convert.

But early in the second half, some good passing out of the back led to a good, probing pass by Luis Solignac to Kevin Doyle in the box. Doyle was able to get to the ball between two RSL defenders and cut it back to Jermaine Jones who hit a beautiful, curling ball around Nick Rimando into the net.

After this, the Rapid began to sit back more and started giving the RSL some more opportunities. But the Rapids kept the ball out of the net with Zac MacMath making some great saves. I think this was his best match of the year.

That yellow card though. MacMath did not deserve that from referee Jair Marrufo. MacMath had gotten the ball and was dribbling back to place the goal kick and RSL player Yura Movsisyan kicked the ball away from him, then kicked it back to him but it was out of his reach. Marrufo was watching this entire exchange and came running in and gave a yellow to MacMath. This is just ridiculous. If anyone should have had a yellow card for this exchange is Movsisyan. If he stays out of the way, the ball is in play quicker than it ended up being.

Here is how I saw the match.

*Zac MacMath - 9 (8.22)*: This was the best match of the season for MacMath. He made some diving saves and may a key grab of a free kick from just outside the box. He was critical in keeping the ball out of the net in several sequences at the end of the match. Did not deserve the yellow card bestowed upon him.

*Marc Burch - 7 (7.16)*: Burch had a decent match and was dangerous in getting up and down the left side. He made several runs in the first and second half, when he was found there were dangerous crosses coming back in. But more times than not he was not seen and had to cut his run off.

*Axel Sjoberg - 8 (6.95)*: He is becoming a good center back and his pairing with Burling is paying dividends for the Rapids. He did a good job of keeping the attack of RSL in check. He did carry the ball too long in the second half and had a bad give-away. Sometimes you just need to kick the ball down the pitch.

*Bobby Burling - 8 (7.09)*: Burling was the enforcer and did a good job with Sjoberg in the back. Helped keep Movsisyan in check as well as Martinez, who seemed like a crybaby to me. Movissyan was able to dive and pick up a foul on Burling, but it was Movsisyan who caused the contact.

*Mekeil Williams - 7 (7.05)*: Williams picked up an early yellow for persistent infringement. This was his only second foul called and neither were violent or card-worthy. I guess Marrufo lost count. While not deserved, he needs to watch getting yellows so early. Williams was solid and was always working to get up the pitch, but also played solid defense.

*Sam Cronin - 7 (7.48)*: Cronin was solid and moved the ball well. He did get up in attack more and was more patient on defense. He did get a half-hearted shot off right at Rimando.

*Micheal Azira - 8 (7.30)*: Azira just seems to be in the right place at the right time. He covered well and made a key play when RSL looked to be on a breakaway, getting to the ball before Movsisyan did. I think he is the unsung hero on this team. Who would have thought he would be playing as much as he did when the Rapids signed him. He played much deeper than Cronin, allowing Cronin to roam further up the pitch.

*Shkelzen Gashi - 7 (7.28)*: Gashi took a couple wild shots and the crowd groaned. But you want one of your scorers to be trying those shots. But he also needs to look to pass sometimes or you will be come too predictable. He moved all over the pitch, including tracking back on defense. His corners were better this match and he almost scored soon after Jones’ goal.

*Jermaine Jones - 9 (8.33)*: What more can be said of Jones so far. I think he has exceeded all expectations. I do not think any of us who follow the Rapids thought he would be scoring and taking over the #10 role. At least I thought, who is off now, Cronin or Azira. The strike for the goal in this match was a thing of beauty that was able to curl away from Rimando.

*Luis Solignac - 8 (6.75)*: I do not think any one worked harder in this match than Solignac. He made runs, tracked back defensively and made the plays. He was the key pass to Doyle in the box that led to Jones’ goal. He was subbed off for Dominique Badji in the 77’. He looked tired, but he is growing into that role.

*Kevin Doyle - 8 (7.48)*: Doyle gets the primary assist on Jones’ goal. It was a beautiful diagonal run and touch back to Jones. He was holding up play, getting the ball and relieving pressure all night. He had a good scoring chance in the second half and he just couldn’t get his foot around the ball.

Substitutes

*Dominique Badji - 5 (6.11)*: Never really got into this match for me. The Rapids needed his speed to carry the ball and relieve the pressure RSL was putting on and just never was able to get going.

*Dillon Serna - N/A (6.25)*: Came on in the 89’ for Gashi. Only had a couple touches.

That is how I saw the match. What are your thoughts?

Community Player Ratings Summary

Community Rating through RSL Match, May 7, 2016

Community Player Rating through RSL Match, May 7, 2016