Categorized | Match Reports

Rapids claw back to 1-1 against FC Dallas

Posted on 25 June 2009 by pshea

It’s easy to give MLS Player of the Week honors to a striker who scores two goals and assists a third in a shutout, but Omar Cummings deserves some credit again four days later for overcoming an 84-minute scoreless hex to earn a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night against FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Cummings took a total of seven shots in 90 minutes, and teammate Nick LaBrocca had a higher shot-per-minute ratio by firing off five before Jacob Peterson replaced him in the 62nd minute.

When the Rapids blanked DC United on Saturday, they had a horrible first half and went into intermission with a two-goal lead. On Wednesday, they dominated the visitors from Dallas and took 10 shots, only to find themselves down 1-0 at halftime. At the end of both games, Cummings was the difference.

“We were two-nil up at halftime on Saturday,” Rapids head Gary Smith said. “But I thought we were poor. What we had was an individual who inspired the group: Omar. Tonight, he made some strange decisions in the first half, and his finishing wasn’t as clinical. And we paid the price for that. Still, I’m delighted that he scored again.”

Colorado dominated the flow in the first half, but FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman was happy with his team’s goal in the 37th minute. “It was a counterattack, a surprise,” Hyndman said. “Then we were able to hold on for quite a while. Obviously, Colorado is a very fit team, very technical. They had 19 shots. For us, we were happy that only five were on-goal. I give them a lot of credit for fighting down to the end.”

Spreading kudos for his own squad, “We come in here against a team that hasn’t lost at home,” Hyndman said. “And to keep them that close shows a lot of character. It’s not easy to play here. At the same time, we have five guys who are normally starters for us who are out with injuries.”

Goals and gist

In the 37th minute, Pablo Mastroeni tracked back to cover FC Dallas forward David Ferreira, but he had to let him go to pick up Jeff Cunningham cutting inside with the ball. Cunningham pushed a pass on the ground, and Kenny Cooper one-timed a curling chip to Ferreira, who continued his run to the right side of the box.

“I thought Jordan [Harvey] pressed the ball well” on the play, noted Smith. “That’s my first thought. And there was a tad indecision. The back three squeezed, when maybe they should have shuffled. Somewhere amongst tracking runners and shuffling instead of squeezing, we missed out. And his [Ferriera’s] touch invites Matt [Pickens] to come out. To be fair, he finished it well,” chipping it over Pickens.

Following the goal, the Rapids continued to dominate, creating more chances. LaBrocca said, “It’s a long game. You gotta keep chipping away.”

“The important thing for us was how dynamic we were in the attack,” Mastroeni said. “We kind of mixed it up, and that was good to see. With Conor [Casey], sometimes we’re one dimensional. Today, we found different ways to get through. It’s the sign of a good attacking team if you keep the defenders on their toes.”

Pat Noonan started again up front for Colorado, and he provided energy and creativity for 71 minutes.

“After about 20 minutes,” Noonan said, “I could tell I was getting over the hump. I was able to find the ball and get some touches.”

“I thought he was more creative going forward,” Smith said of his newly acquired forward. “He looked as though he was in a much better physical position. On another day, he may have had more effort toward goal. I thought his movement was terrific. He creates space for himself in and around the area.”

Pablo Ricchetti cleared a ball into the stands in the 84th minute, and Harvey took a quick throw-in to Mehdi Ballouchy, who settled the ball and pushed it to the feet of a cutting Cummings. Cummings snaked between Ricchetti and Anthony Wallace to get into the box and then turned a left-footed shot to the far post to tie the game.

U.S. win over Spain

Colorado’s players and coaches took different approaches to having important games to watch and play in one day.

“It was a great result,” noted LaBrocca, who recorded the game to watch later. “I wanted to block it out so I could focus on this game.”

Mastroeni also recorded the game and planned to watch it after finishing a nap, but Noonan called him after the first U.S. goal.

“I watched it from 27 minutes on,” Mastroeni said. “They [the U.S. team] had nothing to lose at this point. They were already thrown out of the tournament, as far as everyone else was concerned. They brought the team spirit and the fight for one another that had been missing in the first two games. Like I’ve said before, that is the element of the U.S. national team that they need. They pressed the game, found a way to score, and then kept Spain at bay. It was the most exciting game I’ve seen in a long time, probably one of the best victories in U.S. soccer history.”

“I didn’t see the U.S. game,” Smith said. “Everyone tells me that Spain was dominant. And somebody parked a bus in front of the U.S. goal, and they couldn’t find the corners. But the U.S. won two-nil.” Noting the similarities between the U.S. squad and his Rapids, Smith said, “Your form is what takes you through the season and gives you consistency.”

Seattle

The Rapids travel to Washington for an afternoon game against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (2:00 kickoff, MT). Noonan has already played at Qwest Field this season.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Noonan said. “It will be a fun matchup and be a test to see how we react in a tough environment.”

“It’s going to be a good crowd,” captain Mastroeni said. “It wakes you up, especially after three games in a week. If you go to a place we’re they’re over the top of you, you’re playing in a different league, so to speak, as far as atmosphere goes and the passion of the fans. I think it’ll be good for us, wake us up a bit.”

Noting how he has no injuries, Smith said his players have “tired legs. The lads have put a lot of effort into the games lately. I know that you will get every ounce and breath out of them in Seattle this weekend.”

Player ratings

FC Dallas
Ray Burse, 6. Burse saved four of five shots on goal, and his positioning was better than the Rapids’ aim. His distribution was effective.

Drew Moor, 5. Captain Moor shored up the back line, but the Rapids generated plenty of chances nonetheless (19 total shots).

Kyle Davies, 5. Davies partnered with Moor to frustrate most Colorado attacks, although he benefited from Colorado’s inaccuracy.

Pablo Ricchetti, 6. Ricchetti intercepted a lot of passes and broke up plays early, and he worked the ball well when he got it.

Anthony Wallace, 4. Wallace looked nervous on the ball and didn’t get forward much, but he didn’t leave an open flank for Colorado either.

Jeff Cunningham, 45 minutes, 5. Cunningham was often isolated out of position (literally). He played on the right wing and had to beat Colin Clark and Jordan Harvey. Still, he managed to put one shot on goal in the 36th minute. And his cunning cut inside in the 37th minute forced Colorado’s defenders to adjust, which ultimately freed up Ferreira for the goal.

Brek Shea, 45 minutes, 5. With Shea’s introduction at halftime, Cooper and and Shea paired up with a different kind of running off the ball than the first half with Jeff Cunningham. Shea took a blow to the skull early in the half, but he avoided a stretcher ride and finished the game with some deft touches and vaguely threatening attacks. He didn’t shoot the ball.

Dax McCarty, 5. Although he gave the ball away a few times, McCarty was the workhouse of a visiting midfield that survived the altitude and pressure through good shape and athletic retreats.

Andre Rocha, 71 minutes, 5. Although he took three shots and created chances, Rocha’s effectiveness waned as the game wore on, so Avila came on.

Eric Avila, 19 minutes, 5. Avila maintained defensive shape, but he (wisely) didn’t push forward to stretch the lead.

Dave van den Bergh, 4. van den Bergh neither shot nor penetrated the penalty box all night, and he didn’t step up to be a big part of the game.

Kenny Cooper, 6. Cooper put two of his three shots on goal, and the third was deflected. His first-time chip for Ferreira’s goal was perfect, and he held the ball well on his feet (but didn’t fare so well in the aerial game).

David Ferreira, 7. Ferreira made a clever run into a scoring position when the Rapids defenders adjusted to Cunningham’s cunning cut inside with the ball.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens, 6. Pickens broke up plays, saved four of five shots on goal, and got the ball to his teammates.

Cory Gibbs, 6. Gibbs battled well in the air and on the ground, and he wasn’t a principal player in the FC Dallas goal.

Scott Palguta, 6. Solid tackling and head clears, and he didn’t cough up the ball.

Jordan Harvey, 5. Although Cunningham snuck through a couple times, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said he replaced Cunningham because it looked like Harvey had his number (and he said that Cunningham isn’t a true flank player.)

Ugo Ihemelu, 6. Ihemelu was monstrous in the air, but he also pushed into the attack and headed a Terry Cooke corner kick wide left in the 81st minute. Along with the rest of the Rapids (and FC Dallas, for that matter), Ihemelu didn’t get a yellow card. The total foul count was 11 on Wednesday, eight less than the total against DC United on Saturday. When games continue to flow, it benefits Colorado because the visitors don’t get as many chances to catch their breath.

Pablo Mastroeni, 6. The captain closed down the midfield, and you can’t blame him for the FC Dallas goal. He didn’t play Santa Claus for FC Dallas like he did for DC United.

Colin Clark, 3. Clark needs to realize that the word is out. When he gets the ball in isolation, one or two defenders arrive quickly. Before anyone knew any better, Clark would skin all three defenders. But now he gets mugged. It still puts the defenders on their heels, but it’s no longer effective enough. Also, Clark positioned himself well on defense, but he passed up three or four chances to tackle the ball when it was within reach.

Nick LaBrocca, 5. Although only two of LaBrocca’s five shots were on-goal, that was the most of anyone on Colorado’s roster, and they were all in the first half. Give LaBrocca credit for reading the opportunities and giving himself a chance. He also played solid defense, didn’t lose the ball, and made the most effort to find Pat Noonan.

Jacob Peterson, 28 minutes, 5. Peterson replaced LaBrocca in the 62nd minute, and the field of play stretched to the corner flags. Peterson’s quick forward running, coupled with Terry Cooke’s influence nine minutes later, helped Colorado get more chances and eventually score.

Pat Noonan, 71 minutes, 5. Noonan showed a lot more energy than he did in the DC United game, and he created a number of plays out of nothing (blocking clearances to win the ball, running diagonally to pull defenders, and holding the ball well in tight spaces). He also had a few critical flicks to Omar.

Terry Cooke, 19 minutes, 6. Cooke ran down balls to the endline, and while FC Dallas couldn’t sustain chances, the Rapids earned corner kicks and Cooke took four of them. Some corner kicks created good shots (Ihemelu header in the 81st minute), and others turned into re-crosses.

Mehdi Ballouchy, 6. Ballouchy played with ferocity, cleverness, and endurance. He forced Dax McCarty to make uncharacteristic give-aways, and he assisted Cummings for the goal.

Omar Cummings, 6. Although he missed six of seven shots, Cummings pursued persistently and preserved Colorado’s unbeaten streak at home with his goal in the 84th minute.

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