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Rapids reach MLS Cup Final

Posted on 14 November 2010 by pshea

With a combination of gritty defense and relentless attacking, the Colorado Rapids notched a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night to reach the MLS Cup Final in Toronto next week.

Central defender Drew Moor cleared the ball with his head 17 times during the game for Colorado, and he launched a diving header on goal in the 70th minute. San Jose midfielder Geovanni cleared Moor’s shot off the line to prevent a final nail in his team’s coffin.

Ultimately, Kosuke Kimura’s inswinging cross in the 42nd minute was the game-winner for Colorado. San Jose defender Tim Ward won a race to the ball deep in the corner and knocked it out for a throw-in. Kimura joined Pablo Mastroeni and Wells Thompson to work the ball on the ground amid tight pressure, and Kimura curled a cross into the goalmouth. Omar Cummings streaked to the ball first and froze goalkeeper Jon Busch. What do you call it? A missed flick? A dummy?

“We call that the two-for-one,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said after the game. “If you whip it in and people are running across, it leaves you flat-footed. It’s a good ball in a dangerous area.”

Call it a goal. Call it a ticket to the MLS Cup Final. The 17,779 fans roared their approval and maintained their heated enthusiasm until the final whistle.

Highlights

The Earthquakes started immediately with hard challenges and aggressive attacking. Ward worked his way up the left wing in the fifth minute, and Geovanni forced Matt Pickens to make the first save of the game. Although this turned out to be the only shot on goal for the visitors all night, San Jose stayed competitive until the very end.

“We had a good 20-25 minutes in the second half,” Yallop recounted, noting a boost when he inserted Arturo Alvarez for Chris Leitch in the 57th minute. “It’s not the personnel coming off. It’s who comes on. Our boys played well. They never buckled, never got down on each other.”

The after-shocks from the first shot of the game transitioned to Colorado. Cummings raced up the middle of the field with the ball in the seventh minute and fired a worm-burner from 25 yards out. Busch collected his first of five saves for the night.

Scott Sealy read an outlet pass from Pickens in the 12th minute and lofted the ball over the bar as the Colorado ‘keeper retreated.

Brian Mullan weighted a near-perfect through-ball to Cummings in the 22nd minute, but Busch left his line in time and blocked the shot at the top of the penalty box.

Conor Casey overcame multiple defenders and sent three shots wide left in the first 30 minutes of play. Casey sent his fourth shot wide left as well, another header in the 78th minute. For the night, Casey ran hard with and without the ball, forcing the visitors to contend with his challenges instead of creating attacks of their own.

Marvell Wynne had a seven-minute stretch in the first half when he was in the defensive spotlight, clearing balls with his head and feet in dangerous situations. Head coach Gary Smith has settled on a starting back line with Wynne and Moor in the middle, Kimura on the right, and Anthony Wallace on the left.

When asked how they would defend against Dallas or the gaLAxy, Wynne said, “We’ll do what we always do. It’s seems to be working. Why change it?”

In recent games, Smith has inserted central defender Julien Baudet for the closing minutes.

“You know they’re going to drop in long balls,” Wynne said. “So it’s smart to bring in a big guy like Julien.”

“He’s a great communicator,” Moor said of Baudet. “At the end of the game, a lot of guys are tired. If you bring in a guy like him, he talks constantly and keeps the intensity up. It’s been nice the last couple games.”

Replacing Jamie Smith on the flank, Thompson delivered corner kicks for Colorado, stayed back on defense when Kimura overlapped, and created danger with the ball.

When asked about his preparation for the game, Thompson said, “As a player, you have to be mentally ready. I didn’t know until about an hour before game time.” Smith left practice early on Friday, and after the Scottish midfielder conducted a brief test before kickoff, Thompson received his assignment.

“Omar opens it up down wide,” Thompson explained. “And Kosuke does his thing. So I stayed back a bit too.”

Rather than race down the wing with the ball, Thompson tends to swerve inside. “I grew up playing center mid,” the midfielder said, “so I tend to drift in and slash.”

Captain Mastroeni drifted and slashed his fair share, forcing saves from Busch in the 63rd and 73rd minutes. Tactically, Mastroeni has made a conscious effort to push forward more in recent games, while maintaining his trademark presence with Jeff Larentowicz as defensive midfielders.

But according to Moor, the captain brings much more than tactics and skill.

“Pablo has been the heart of the team this year,” Moor explained. “He’s been on a mission, and everyone has followed him.”

Looking ahead

“Both teams are tough,” Moor explained. “Dallas plays fast, and LA is very dangerous. They play finesse and can catch you sleeping.”

Mastroeni will be wide awake. According to Colorado’s leader, “We’ve played well against the best teams in the league. So regardless of who we play, it’s going to be a great game.”

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The Dynamo.ASN forum for you

Posted on 08 May 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new Dynamo.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

This forum is not meant to compete with other boards dedicated to the team (not that it would have a chance anyway). Each of these are excellent resources. We just felt there was/is room for something perhaps intended for the more casual fan of the team that could integrate with the various social media platforms of the day. (Or, if you’re stuck in 2005, MySpace yes you can post with your Myspace username).

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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The Rapids.ASN forum: For you, by you

Posted on 05 May 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new Rapids.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

This forum is not meant to compete with other boards dedicated to the team (not that it would have a chance anyway). We just felt there was/is room for something perhaps intended for the more casual fan of the team that could integrate with the various social media platforms of the day. (Or, if you’re stuck in 2005, MySpace yes you can post with your Myspace username).

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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The Crew discussion forum: For you, by you

Posted on 04 May 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new Crew.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

Ready? So get to it! Here’s the link.

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The RSL.ASN forum: For you, by you

Posted on 30 April 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new RBNY.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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The USMNT.ASN forum: For you and by you

Posted on 29 April 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new USMNT.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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The RBNY.ASN forum

Posted on 27 April 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new RBNY.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

This forum is not meant to compete with other boards dedicated to the team (not that it would have a chance anyway). Each of these, Big Soccer, Metrofanatic and the Empire Supporters Club, are excellent resources. We just felt there was/is room for something perhaps intended for the more casual fan of the team that could integrate with the various social media platforms of the day. (Or, if you’re stuck in 2005, MySpace yes you can post with your Myspace username).

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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Dynamo vs. Chivas USA: The Aftermath

Posted on 18 April 2010 by Michael Simpson

Video Highlights:



video highlights courtesy of MLSsoccer.com


Game recap:

By the looks of the scoreboard in the Houston Dynamo’s 3-0 win against Chivas USA on April 17, one would not guess that four of the team’s five forwards were not available to play.

Forwards Brian Ching (hamstring) and Cam Weaver (knee) were out due to injuries, Luis Angel Landin served a suspension for a red card he earned against the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 10, and the Dynamo have yet to receive Joseph Ngwenya’s international transfer certificate, making him ineligible for selection.

However, the team’s midfielders shouldered the offensive load as midfielders Geoff Cameron and Lovel Palmer each scored in the first half. Forward Dominic Oduro added a third in the 65th minute to put the game out of reach for Chivas USA, who drops to 1-3-0 and sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Dynamo (2-1-1) travel to Chicago to face the Fire at Toyota Park on April 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.


Jump to the game story


Player Ratings:

Player ratings are on a scale of one to five–one being the worst, five being the best. ‘N/A’ is used for late substitutes.

GK Onstad – 4
Onstad made several saves when the team needed him to, but, by and large, he went untested as Chivas USA were only able to get three shots on goal.

D Chabala – 5
Chabala was a key part of the Dynamo’s win. This is a young man who has become the definition of resilience. When he’s down, he gets back up, and you can bet he wont make the same mistake twice. He had two assists against Chivas USA, including one on Palmer’s 30-yard strike.

D Robinson – 4.5
Robinson is always a crucial part of the Dynamo’s back four. His tenacity is visible to even the casual observer, and it was obvious the team’s defense had something to prove after such a disappointing loss last week. He also picked up an assist on the first goal of the match.

D Boswell – 4.5
In the absence of Ching, Boswell has really stepped up as a leader for this team, and it showed in the team’s first shutout of the season. Although Chivas USA were unable to really test the Dynamo’s defense, Boswell delivered crucial clearances when he needed to.

D Hainault – 4
Hainault has really come into his own since joining the Dynamo last season. His versatility and ability to play either outside or central defense has become a valuable asset to this young team. He’s a hard worker and was key in distributing the ball in and out of the midfield.

M Davis – 4.5
A veteran midfielder who wants more responsibility in distributing the ball in the Dynamo’s attack, Davis showed today he is ready and willing to face this challenge. With the departure of Stuart Holden to the English Premiere League, Davis will get his chance. He assisted on Oduro’s late goal and played a key role in dominating the midfield.

M Palmer – 5
Palmer was a very pleasant surprise for Dynamo fans. He had a textbook strike from 30 yards that gave the Dynamo a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute. Palmer played excellent defense and was able to limit Chivas USA midfielder Sasha Klejstan’s effectiveness.

M Cameron – 4.5
Chivas USA will not soon forget that Cameron is a threat wherever he is on the field. Last year it was central defense, this year it’s attacking midfield. He brilliantly recognized space and was able to make a run and score the team’s first goal of the match.

M Ashe – 4
Ashe was able to catch the Chivas USA defense ball watching and send a perfect through ball to Cameron who was streaking through wide-open space. He helped Davis, Palmer, et al control the midfield and, in so doing, help his team win.

F Mullan – 4.5
He’s a hard-working veteran who’s effort rarely shows up in his statistics. He made perhaps the smartest play of the match by recognizing he was in an offside position and removing himself from the play on Oduro’s late goal that put the Dynamo up 3-0, and he applied constant pressure to the Chivas USA defense.

F Oduro – 4.5
Oduro still has some sporadic ball-control issues, but he was brilliant against Chivas USA. You can tell the guy is really developing a nose for goal. He was in perfect position to receive the cross from Davis and had a great finishing touch to put the game away.

M Navas Cobo – N/A
It was a great moment in the history of the Dynamo when Francisco Navas Cobo stepped on the field in the 89th minute and became the Dynamo’s first homegrown player to make an appearance with the first team in a league game.

M Serioux – N/A
Adrian Serioux was part of the Dynamo team that won the 2006 MLS Cup. He made his first appearance of the season as an 86th-minute substitute for Davis. Serioux spent the last few years in Toronto and Dallas.

F Cruz – N/A
Cruz came on as a late substitute for Mullan and was able to put some pressure on the Chivas USA defense in the waning minutes.

Coaching – 4.5
Kinnear and company clearly had this team ready to redeem itself after a 2-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy last Saturday. The team controlled the midfield, and the selection of Palmer clearly paid off. He should have used subs a little bit earlier, though. Game minutes are crucial for up-and-coming players, and the Dynamo had a 3-0 lead with 25 minutes remaining. It was great to see the club’s first league appearance made by a homegrown player, and I would have liked to see more than 60 seconds of him.

Your take:
How would you rate the players? Who is your Dynamo man of the match?


(polls)

Also worth noting:

Midfielder Richard Mulrooney, who left the Dynamo’s April 10 game against the Los Angeles Galaxy due to injury, was not included in the team’s 18-man roster for the April 17 game against Chivas USA.

Live coverage archive

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LIVE BLOG: Houston Dynamo vs. Chivas USA

Posted on 17 April 2010 by ASN Staff

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Toronto FC head to Colorado

Posted on 16 April 2010 by pshea

After two games against the Kansas City Wizards this past week (a 1-0 MLS loss on Saturday and a 2-1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory on Tuesday), the Colorado Rapids host Toronto FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday afternoon (3:00 kickoff).

Colorado head coach Gary Smith feels good about his pool of players. “This weekend, after a very good midweek win, I think we’ll see a group that’s ultra-positive, ultra-bright, and ultra-effective,” Smith said.

Toronto FC beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Thursday night, thanks to two goals from Dwayne De Rosario. Considering the visitors’ busy week, Smith anticipates a compact nut to crack when Toronto takes the field.

“They’re going through a transition themselves,” Smith explained. “That’s not to say they won’t be well-organized and competitive, as all Preki teams are. But you’ll find that not all of their guys have clicked yet. We’ll certainly come into it playing our own game, especially at home. After playing and traveling, and then playing at altitude, you’ll find a team that’s going to bog down. He [Preki] is not going to come in here to win the game and open up. He’s going to put all the emphasis on us and give us some questions to really answer.”

Other than defender Julien Baudet, who received a red card last Saturday, Smith has a large pool to draw from for Sunday.

“At home,” Smith explained. “I think it lends itself to more athleticism, more pace, and more purpose. The shame is, not all the guys on Tuesday can be rewarded for their efforts. You can’t get all of them in the 18. But regardless, whatever 18 we have, they’ll be frothing at the mouth to get out there on Sunday afternoon.”

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