Categorized | Match Reports

Casey shoots Rapids over Sounders, 1-0

Posted on 30 May 2010 by pshea

Conor Casey survived a running battle into the box with Seattle defender Jeff Parke in the 63rd minute, ultimately catching Kasey Keller off his line with a deft chip to the far post for a 1-0 victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“He came up with a finish that I don’t think anyone expected,” Colorado head coach Gary Smith said. “On top of that, it was certainly his best general play. I thought he was physically and mentally prepared. He brought players into the game, bought us some time. His ability to switch the point of attack has improved enormously. Hopefully, he’ll keep this confidence going forward.”

See “Player ratings” for more quotes and pertinent details.

Up next

The Rapids host the Columbus Crew next Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (7:00 kickoff). According to Mastroeni, “Columbus has the spirit of a champion. You look at their roster, and they’re good players. But for the most part they play their roles. That’s a sign of a good team. We know it’s going to be a battle. They have good veterans with Frankie [Hejduk] and [Guillermo Barros] Schelotto. It will be much like today, a close battle that could go either way. We need to come out starting sharp. The first goal will be critical next week. It’s always easier to prepare for the next game after a win.”

Smith had a similar take: “Now we turn our attention to Columbus, who have had a fabulous run.”

“I feel liberated,” Pablo Mastroeni said, referring to the post-pressure national team status off the roster. “It’s like I have a piano off my back. I can get forward when I think it’s necessary to help the team and hold back late in the game when we’re up a goal. I think Gary has done a good job giving the experienced guys freedom to make decisions.”

Elaborating on the club/national team dichotomy, Mastroeni waxed philosophical. “Your club pays your salary, but the icing on the cake is representing your country. It’s always tough to find solace in each of those things [club and national team] because you want to get back to your club team after missing games, but you feel almost resentment. The personal life is so critical for that. You’re on the road with the national team for a month and a half, and then you come home and have two away trips. You don’t get to see your family and your kids. And that’s your support system. They’re there through thick and thin. It’s all coming together for me now. More important, I’m living in the present. I’m working to be a better player and be a better teammate. And make this locker room a great place to be every day.”

Player ratings

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (7): In the the 38th minute, Pickens pushed a bouncing Patrick Ianni volley wide for a corner kick, perhaps the best chance for Seattle all night. Pickens controlled the ball and distributed well, but Ianni’s shot was the only attempt on target from the visitors.

Drew Moor (7): Strong in the air, smart on the ground, and comfortable on the ball, Moor paired with Baudet to plug up the middle and ensure the shutout. “They are extremely reliable,” Smith said of his two central defenders. “They’re very competitive. I’m very happy with the way the pair is performing, and Marvell [Wynne] and Danny [Earls] were sharp.”

Julien Baudet (7): Baudet denied any penetration up the middle, and he had two scoring chances off corner kicks in the middle of the first half.

“What you’ve got is a guy who wants the ball,” coach Smith said. “He attacks the flight of the ball. He’s a very aggressive player in the air. He scored one goal against Houston last year, and I definitely believe there will be more goals from Julien.”

When Baudet went down with an injured knee, Scott Palguta warmed up. But the veteran recovered. “He’s had some soreness in that knee since Wednesday,” Smith explained. “Sore or not, I’m sure he’ll feel better and work extremely hard to be in the starting lineup next week.”

Marvell Wynne (7): Wynne didn’t get beat on the run all night, but his improved positioning meant he didn’t need to retreat at light speed to compensate. He also joined the attack. Captain Mastroeni noted how increased possession is contagious among team members, and more players like Wynne join in. “If you can complete four or five passes,” Mastroeni explained, “then everyone wants the ball. That’s because we’re touching it around. We’re getting better as we go, and a win like this validates it. Today was a good balance of attack and defense.”

Danny Earls (7): When Sounders approached the right wing, Earls readied himself like a firecracker with an active fuse. Like Wynne, he didn’t get beat directly all night, although he had a no-look drop pass that was more of a Benedict Arnold through-ball to Sanna Nyassi.

Mehdi Ballouchy, (6): Ballouchy maintained possession and dominated central midfield with Mastroeni and Larentowicz. In addition to delivering all the corner kicks, Ballouchy forced Keller to make a save in the 73rd minute.

Pablo Mastroeni (7): The captain played tough but in control, even after Ljungberg went vocal. One combination of passes on the right side during the first half put Mastroeni in good position, but his first touch went too far forward and out for a goal kick. Otherwise, Mastroeni won battles and moved the ball along. Although still competitive, Mastroeni looks more comfortable on the field.

Jeff Larentowicz (6): Larentowicz paired with Mastroeni to dominate the center of the field. He didn’t shoot at all during the game, but he pressed into attack.

Wells Thompson, 60 minutes (5): Omar Cummings was having success scorching Leo Gonzalez, forcing the defender to drop him on the turn and earn a yellow card right before halftime. Thompson didn’t have many opportunities, and he stumbled on the ball occasionally. Once, he failed to push it forward to a wide-open, overlapped Danny Earls.

Colin Clark, 30 minutes (5): Although Clark saw more of the ball than Thompson did, he didn’t get past James Riley to deliver dangerous crosses or get off a shot.

Conor Casey (8): Casey got to every ball, either to flick it toward a teammate or to settle it and let players join the attack. He muscled his way to retain possession, and his combination of strength and poise produced the goal.

Omar Cummings (7): Cummings put two of his three shots on goal, and he put Sounders defenders on their heels. In addition to feeding the ball forward to Casey to start the play that ended with a goal, Cummings scrapped to keep possession and create chances.

Seattle Sounders
Kasey Keller (7): Keller needed to leave his line when Parke and Casey raced and tumbled in the box, and the Rapids striker placed it well out of reach at the far post. Keller saved the other four shots on goal and handled high balls in his area.

Leo Gonzalez (5): Coach Smith lamented that his players didn’t attack Gonzalez more after Cummings forced the outside back to foul on the turn at midfield on the wing. Since it looked like the dam would break at some point, most of the promising Rapids’ attacks came through Cummings on the right wing.

Tyronne Marshall (6): Marshall was tough in the air, limited chances, and got involved in the Sounders’ attack during crunch time.

Jeff Parke (5): Parke faced Casey on a night when the striker won most of the air balls and proved to have stronger footing during the footrace to the ball. But Casey was never wide open, and Parke picked up other players through the middle as well.

James Riley (5): Riley was forced to stay back, particularly after Colin Clark came on in the 60th minute and ran deeper to the line than Wells Thompson did. But Clark never got free from Riley.

Brad Evans (5): Although Evans didn’t get caught out of position, he didn’t dominate his space.

Patrick Ianni (6): Ianni cracked a volley off a Drew Moor head clearance in the 38th minute, the only true chance for the visitors all night. Ianni won a few midfield duels and got into the attack.

Freddie Ljungberg (6): Ljungberg retreated hard on defense whenever the Rapids won the ball near him, and he took three shots (the most among Sounders). Ljungberg vocalized his competitiveness aloud, perhaps a waste of breath at this altitude.

Steve Zakuani, 64 minutes (4): Zakuani went down early in the game, and he never really recovered and showed spark. Marvell Wynne blocked Zakuani’s shot in the 58th minute.

Sanna Nyassi, 26 minutes (6): Nyassi brought energy to the game.

Fredy Montero, 76 minutes (6): With two shots wide right and high in the second half, Montero was not a scoring threat, but he was the most active playmaker on a par with Ljungberg.

Miguel Montano, 14 minutes (4): Montano didn’t change the attack or the flow of the game.

Pat Noonan, 83 minutes (5): After the game, Noonan noted that Colorado had a lot of time on the ball, so the Rapids could develop their attacks. Noonan chased down balls and kept possession, but he also hit a header in the 15th minute, a shot at the far post high and wide off a Ljungberg service.

Roger Leesque, 7 minutes (NR)

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