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#COLvSJ: Breakdown of Key Plays

A third win the last four games finds the Rapids in the top four in the West.

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

Coming into Wednesday nights game, the Colorado Rapids were riding some winning momentum, and the San Jose Earthquakes seemed to be falling apart. It was exactly the type of game the Rapids needed to win if they wanted to make people think they could actually be contenders. Thankfully, they came through as they trounced the Earthquakes 5-0. Here are the goals:

Rapids break the deadlock (35’)

Throughout the first 35 minutes of the game, the Rapids had a number of chances from set pieces. It seemed like every time they got a free kick or corner into the box, they were getting on the end of it and forcing a save from Daniel Vega.

Finally, in the 35th minute, this free kick happens. Jack Price sends the ball into the box, and Lalas Abubakar rises to meet it. Since he had been the danger man so far, Cole Bassett’s marker steps forward to contest the ball. The ball is a little high and sails past all three of them. Bassett does good to float into the space where a slightly over-hit ball would fall. Wide open, he slots the header home calmly.

Rapids double their lead (50’)

The key to beating a man-marking system is movement and crisp passing. If your players are willing to move around and switch positions constantly, they can move the defense around as well. Add in a few accurate passes, and boom, man-marking team is in trouble.

That is exactly what the Rapids do here. During the replay of this goal (starting at 0:23), you can see that all of the Rapids players are moving, overlapping, and changing position. Kellyn Acosta moves up high. Jonathan Lewis starts low and runs high and across. The ball gets pinged around. It’s a textbook goal for beating a man-marking system.

In my opinion, it was the best goal of the night for the Rapids, and it is the one that broke San Jose. They cut them apart so well, San Jose definitely seemed a little crushed, and that is what allowed the Rapids to pile it on.

Rapids seal the win (70’)

This goal starts with a throw-in that actually puts Andre Shinyashiki in a tough spot. He can take the ball down and turn his back toward the goal, but that would take the danger out of the play. Instead, he tries to be tricky. He flicks the ball up and over the defender, and now San Jose is in trouble.

He beats the second defender to the end line, and sends the ball into the 6-yard box. Tommy Thompson, the San Jose defender, has to do something. If he doesn’t get a touch on the ball, the Rapids will tap it in. Thompson slides, but the ball ends up being just too far for him to control and ends up in the back of the net.

Rapids start to pile on (80’)

At this point, it is almost as if the Quakes have given up. Auston Trusty finds himself in space down the right side and SJ has almost no defenders back. When Trusty cuts in, it looks like the three Rapids forward are all marked. For some reason, however, the back-side defender decides he should cut off the pass across the top of the box. All this does is leave Nicolas Mezquida open for one of the easiest assists/goals he and Trusty will ever get.

Another embarrassing scoreline happens (84’)

Another danger of man-marking is the space that it can open up if the offense spaces itself out right. Right as this video starts, you can see all the open lanes Jeremy Kelly has to play the ball. He chooses to play the ball up the center of the park, and then the real play happens.

Shinyashiki shows really good awareness and dummies the ball to Bassett. This draws Shinyashiki’s defender forward, and leaves Bassett 1v1. Bassett steps around the defender easily when the defender should be doing more to contain Bassett without any reinforcements.

Once Shinyashiki finished his dummy, he does a great job taking off down the field on the other side of Bassett. This allows Bassett to draw the recovering defender in before laying the ball off for Shinyashiki to slot home. Utter domination.

Other Thoughts

Great personnel choice by Robin Fraser

Against a team that plays the system that SJ plays, the Rapids needed to set themselves up for success with good lineup choices. They needed accurate passers who could move around and be comfortable in all parts of the field. Playing a front three of Shinyashiki, Braian Galvan and Lewis allowed for the three to interchange as much as they wanted, and all three could stretch the field.

Playing Price, Acosta, and Bassett allowed for three players that could all play anywhere in the midfeld, and they are all quality passers on the ball. Finally, the defense pairing of Abubakar and Trusty allowed for plenty of recovery speed should SJ get a counterattack.

Coming into the game, we were pretty sure that Younes Namli and Diego Rubio were going to be out due to injury, so there weren’t as many options, but Fraser still chose the right XI for this game.

Bassett is a bonafide player

Over the last few years, I have always loved seeing Bassett get a chance to get onto field. He always flashed potential, and his calmness on the ball always caught my eye. Over the past few games, it has been nice to see him getting plenty of minutes in a position he is comfortable in, and he is paying Fraser back for his trust.

Bassett has cemented himself as a member of Fraser’s XI, and it feels like it is only a matter of time before he ends up in Europe.

Any other thoughts on Wednesday’s game? Let us know in the comments section!