>Tuesday Lunch Special: Previewing the Colorado Rapids

Posted: November 16, 2010 in mls
Tags: , , ,

>By Evan Ream

Lineup: The Rapids (like all other teams in MLS) play a version of a 4-4-2 formation that will likely look like this for the final:

Conor Casey    Omar Cummings

Wells Thompson    Jeff Larentowicz    Pablo Mastroeni    Brian Mullen

Anthony Wallace    Marvell Wynne    Drew Moor    Kosuke Kimura

Matt Pickens

In this formation, they don’t get much attacking out of their outside midfielders. Both Wells Thompson and Brian Mullen are hardworking, blue-collar players, but neither has amazing ball skills or has game changing ability. Instead of focusing mainly on the attack, both players will mark their opposite outside midfielders and fullbacks relentlessly, and frustrate them with the main goal of regaining possession and distributing it quickly.
Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz man one of the best central midfields in MLS. Both get into the attack some, make late runs, and taking shots from distance, but their main job is disrupting the opponent. I would expect that Mastroeni, despite his age, would be tasked with following David Ferreira around the park all day.
The defenders are all pretty much outside backs and are thus very susceptible in the air. Drew Moor is great with the ball at his feet and Anthony Wallace serves in a great ball, but both are prone to mental mistakes. Marvell Wynne has world-class speed (we’re talking running away from a cop speed, Will please link that video), though he relies on it too much and can be beaten by smarter players. His touch can also be suspect. Kosuke Kimura is one of the hardest working players in the league; he never takes a play off. Out of him and Wallace, Kimura gets forward more often while Wallace prefers to give service from deeper areas on the field.
The forwards are the key to this team. Conor Casey and Omar Cummings was the only forward tandem to each score double-digit goals this season. Casey is a classic target forward who wins balls in the air and does a good job at playing with his back to the goal. Cummings on the other hand is one of the most dynamic players in the league. He combines amazing speed with great skill and a great soccer brain to be dangerous every single game. Typically, Conor Casey will stay up high and look for long balls while Cummings will play off him and look for flicks. Cummings also tends to drift wide to get crosses for Casey into the box. Cummings floats around the entire field during the game, requiring Dallas’ defense and midfield to track him at all times.
Ian Joyce
Julien Baudet
Quincy Amarikwa
Macoumba Kandji
Ross LaBauex
Claudio Lopez
Scott Palguta
There are very few difference makers on this bench. Julien Baudet, a defender, is often brought off bench late in games in order to preserve leads, while Quincy Amarikwa (a UC Davis alum) is great at holding up the ball at the end of the game to protect a lead, though he isn’t much of a threat to score. Claudio Lopez was a great player five years ago, but is on his last legs. Macoumba Kandji is the last of the decent players on the bench and he is erratic at best. Look for him to be brought in if Colorado needs a goal.
Three Key Players:
Pablo Mastroeni, as I said above, will likely be tasked with following around soon to be named MVP David Ferreira. If he can effectively keep Ferreira to a minimum impact, and force the game to be won by Dallas’ other players then Colorado has an excellent chance. As Captain of the Rapids, and pretty much the only player on the team with experience in big games, he must lead by example and help the younger players succeed in what will be most of their biggest games of their career.
Kosuke Kimura will go up against the ever-dangerous Brek Shea who will have a size, speed, and strength advantage. Kimura will have the advantage in experience though and if he can shut down Shea, Colorado’s chances in the game go up exponentially. Kimura must also get into the attack as much as possible as Casey and Cummings will likely be starved for service with Dallas’ nearly five man midfield (when Ferreira drops deep to collect the ball). Kimura was great against the Earthquakes and is probably the most important defender for the Rapids this weekend.
Omar Cummings is the best player on the Rapids and possibly will be the best player on the field come Sunday. If the Rapids are to score a goal, it will likely come for him. He has been involved in all three of the Rapids’ playoff goals to this point and I don’t expect it to change. The Dallas backline is very quick (with the exception of George John) so he must not rely on his own quickness to impact the game. I can see him getting frustrated, as he is significantly faster than most of the players in the league but likely not Ugo Ihemelu, Dallas’ other center back. Cummings will have to use his intelligence to create one or more goals in order to keep the Rapids in the game.
Colorado Rapids v Toronto FC d0WJ8aVTkfTlWells Thompson is always a liability just because of his lack of skill and limited soccer knowledge. He can be caught out of position and give away a few balls, but he also can make up for it with his great work ethic. Marvin Chavez on Dallas’ right side should give him fits all day.
Marvell Wynne cannot rely on his speed for this game. Dallas’ attackers Atiba Harris, Jeff Cunningham, David Ferreira, and Marvin Chavez may not be as fast as he is, but they are comparable enough in speed that they are able to beat him if Wynne makes a mental mistake. I can see Dallas getting a goal on a Ferreira through ball in which Wynne is completely caught out of position and that is why he is a liability. Maybe he will prove me wrong, but I see Wynne as Colorado’s biggest liability.
In all, Colorado is a good, balanced team, but I don’t think they match up too well with Dallas’ plethora of quick, smart attackers. Join me tomorrow for a review of the USA game vs. South Africa and then Thursday for an in depth look at FC Dallas.


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