The Colorado Rapids answered strongly after suffering that 5-1 egg laying against New York City FC. They beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0, giving the Whitecaps their fourth straight scoreless road match of the year. For me, this stood as the strongest performance of the season. Could they have scored more? Yes. But the defense stood strong. Our new goalkeeper (let's see... what's that guy's name? Oh right - Tim Howard!) could have sat in a lawn chair sipping tea, and he would have been just as active as he was on Saturday night between the posts.
Shkëlzen Gashi's Bombs: I Like Them, and You Should, Too!
The verdict is still out among Rapids fans as to how to process what my boys and I referred to as "Gashi's bombs." The guy loves to shoot from distance. I counted five, although he could have shot more while I was away on various runs. Some were low, some wide, some high, some from his favored left foot, and one impressive one on the right.
Much of this came from his occupying the #10 role, which seemed to give him more confidence. Yet, not everyone was pleased with his shot selection. Me? I was thrilled at his aggressiveness. Soon, some of those bombs will hit the back of the net. Like Marlon Hairston's form, once that Saran Wrap is taken off goal for him, he will be revered among Rapid Nation.
But it's more than that. He brings a leadership and an intellect to the team that's much needed. He’s a significant part of the change in form our team has. Every team needs that guy who has leadership and skills, and is unafraid to take those shots when the opportunity arises. Personally, I’d rather see that happen then to see players who have the skills but show a tentativeness. On four of those shots that Gashi took, 18 inches difference would have scored him at least an epic hat trick.
It’ll come, gang. It’ll come.
Hairston's Form: Should He Start When Everyone is Healthy?
Three goals in four games. Three goals in his last three home games. Our former editor posed a question to me regarding my starting XI if everyone was healthy. Let me just say this upfront: I truly wish for Marlon Hairston and Mekeil Williams to succeed personally. Hairston played for the University of Louisville, my favorite college team, when he was drafted by the Rapids in the late first round. Williams hails from Trinidad & Tobago, my home away from home. Like any writer, some bias will creep in.
But not this time with Hairston.
The first two years, Hairston played on the backline, starting occasionally and usually coming in as a sub. With all the injuries this year, along with a glut on the backline, head coach Pablo Mastroeni decided to put him in a midfield position. Immediately, he would put himself in positions to score, but just couldn't - which frustrated Rapids fans more and more because of the Rapids inability to finish.
Then he scored a beauty! Then he danced around the keeper after a sweet steal to put another one in! Then he faked out his defender on Saturday to receive a great cross from Marc Burch for his third. Then he had a dandy move to free himself to give a beautiful cross to Dominique Badji to finish and seal the win.
Back to the question regarding my starting XI. I put Hairston in over Marco Pappa. Why? First, this is no slight to the immense talent of Marco Pappa. For the first third of the season, he was the straw that stirred the Rapids drink. But like the issue with Drew Moor's stripping of the captaincy last year, something is afoot regarding Pappa's standing with the coaching staff. Murmurings have come that Pablo likes his players to play strong both ways (offense and defense), and Pappa clearly favors the offensive aspects of the game. But that's conjecture.
But Hairston brings a motor on both ends of the pitch. He seems to 'go' the entire 90, which our resident Rapids Rabbi will cover in his usual epic technical detail. But for the casual fan, we have seen much over the last two months to see him as at the very least a super sub. Yet, with his current form, he needs to keep starting.
What Think Ye?
Let’s get some conversation rolling. Do you love Gashi’s aggressiveness? Should Hairston remain a starter, or should Pappa come back in? Any talk about our Rapids is good talk.