A few weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids went into Avaya Stadium and got played off the field by the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose was one of the hottest teams in MLS and looked better in almost all facets of the game in their 3-1 win, but the game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night was a completely different story. The Rapids—helped out by the post a few times—managed to pull out a 2-1 victory. Let’s take a look at the goals.
Rapids get on the board just before half time (44’)
Let me just start by pointing out that Diego Rubio is a pro soccer player or something. To take a ball off a short hop and flick it between your legs with perfect weight to a runner is just a nasty little move and having the thought to even do it is a whole bonus on top of that. He makes it look easy, but thinking that fast and playing a ball that well takes some skill.
Predictably, the ball puts Kellyn Acosta into all sorts of space. He takes one touch, realizes that the defender is not stepping to him hard enough, and rifles a low, driven ball to the near post. It’s not an exceptional shot, but the San Jose goalie had already started cheating to the far post. As a result, he isn’t able to get back to the near post and the hand that he gets on the ball isn’t strong enough to deflect the ball wide. It’s a goal, but it should have been saved had the goalie not already started cheating far post.
San Jose ties it up (62’)
This goal is a bit of a fluke on the part of Lalas Abubakar. The ball comes in and Abubakar somehow whiffs on its way by him. As a result, San Jose gets the ball, dropping it off to their most dangerous player, Qazaishvili (Vako). The rest is just bad news bears.
Vako touches the ball around Danny Wilson and then puts a well-placed shot into the bottom corner. Unlucky start to the play, but a classy finish in the end.
Rubio grabs the winner for the Rapids (73’)
This play starts with a simple square ball by Keegan Rosenberry to Rubio and then Rubio does two things to make this play end in a goal. First, he opens his hips up as if he is going to shoot the ball first time. This makes the entire San Jose defense hesitate for just a second, allowing Rubio to take the ball into the space at the top of the box.
The second key moment was more obvious: the shot. Rubio beats the San Jose defender to the ball and he does a perfect job slotting the ball into the corner where no goalie in the world is ever going to get to it.
The goal ended up being the winner for the Rapids and it’s the 6th goal in the last 8 games for Rubio. He may have had a slow start to the season, but he is really coming into his own.
Acosta + Price round two
Last week, I wrote about how the Acosta and Jack Price combo needed to stay together. Well, it did and it was very successful again. In San Jose, the Rapids midfield was way overpowered by San Jose. This time around, San Jose still had the majority of the possession, but the midfield held its own much better.
Aside from the Acosta goal, the two were relatively quiet throughout the game, but they did their job. San Jose never really made dangerous runs through the middle or found much space at the top of the box (aside from the goal which should have been cleared). Plus, the ball went from the defense to the front four consistently time and time again. None of the passes were spectacular, but the two did their job of linking the front line to the back line well. I hope the two remain paired together in the future.
The left side struggled
The way that San Jose got the majority of their success was down the Rapids’ left side. Tommy Thompson was constantly overlapping Shea Salinas, which allowed him to be played through time and time again. Sam Vines would follow Salinas as he showed to the ball on the inside, but Andre Shinyashiki wasn’t following Thompson. Whether Vines was supposed to stay with Salinas or leave him to track Thompson is unknown, but something was going wrong and San Jose took advantage repeatedly. Hopefully, other teams don’t see this as a weakness they can exploit.
Rapids should push the pace whenever they play at home
San Jose came in and tried to play a high pressure, man-to-man system. It allowed for the game to go back and forth at a really quick pace and San Jose was worn out by the end of it. With the Rapids being at altitude, San Jose got worn out by all the running right around the 65th-70th minute, and the game became wide open. As a result, Rubio was able to score the second goal.
If the Rapids can try and push the pace of all their home games, they can replicate what happened on Saturday night and start to take advantage of tired teams week after week.
Have any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!