View from the Booth: Rapids 'got a good thing going'
A chant often heard around English stadiums, of teams making a surprise run for honors, goes like this:
'And now you’d better believe us.
And now you’d better believe us.
And now you’d better (hold the note) be-lieve us.
We're gonna win the league.'
Ok, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but that 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy will certainly make a few people sit up and take note of the Colorado Rapids after another tremendous result.
ESPN's host for the game was Adrian Healey.
Full Match Highlights
"Good luck for the rest of the season," he said, as he left Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.
"It seems you've got a good thing going here."
And he'd be right. Six games unbeaten, 14 points from a possible 18, and up to second in the Western Conference - three points behind leaders Real Salt Lake ahead of what should be a belting Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup decider next weekend (6:30 p.m. MT, TICKETS). The side, after 23 games, is also nine points better off than at the same stage last season.
Who, among us, could've foreseen this scenario leading in to the trip to then-Eastern Conference leaders Montreal Impact on June 29? The Rapids had lost three in a row, conceding seven goals and were in danger of slipping into MLS obscurity for the season.
Oscar Pareja Post-Game
Saturday's shut-out - a third in the last five games - indicates the defense is back to its resilient best. Goals for Hendry Thomas and Dillon Powers were further proof that the Rapids are a threat from a variety of areas across the park. And then we heard from Galaxy coach, Bruce Arena, who claimed that his team were 'man-handled' by the Rapids, which tells me that sides fear the physical prowess of Oscar Pareja's players.
Every club will feel they’ve been victim of poor refereeing at some stage of a season, but I do wonder whether fans who proclaim ‘he went in with his studs up’ have ever played the game. Try sliding in for a tackle, without raising your studs. It's a virtual physical impossibility. A well-timed sliding tackle is one of the best sights in the sport. Mis-time it by a split second and you’re in danger of an early shower.
Thomas escapes early booking
Thomas is a physical player. My advice, as ‘El Patron’ closes in on his prey, is for adults to shield the eyes of the young and infirm, ladies in the latter stages of pregnancy to be gently guided to a safe area, and for all domestic pets to be kept out of harm’s way. But that’s his game. You take that aspect away and he’s half the player, with half the impact (sometimes literally).
A soccer season involves swings and roundabouts. Some you win, some you lose. That goes for refereeing decisions, also. Let’s be clear here, the Rapids have endured their fair share of shockers from the men in the middle.
Galaxy fans took to the internet over the weekend, bemoaning the fact that Thomas was on the field in the first place to score the opening goal. They felt he should’ve been sent off for his lunging attempted tackle on Hector Jimenez in only the fourth minute. In all honesty, they may have a point, but was Thomas looking to injure the player, or get the ball? Mis-timed, or malicious? Those international men of mystery, who lurk in the shadows (aka the MLS Disciplinary Committee), may yet have their say.
The Rapids are a physical side, but soccer is a physical game. And they will have players on the roster that other clubs love to hate (I’m sure the Rapids fans have their ‘favorites’ around the league). But we’re approaching a crucial part of the season, where points are precious, the result is paramount and performances secondary.
If you’re a Rapids fan, then I’m sure you want players who are winners, eager to fight and scrap for your club (within the laws of the game). And, if that approach has the team labelled physical and deemed unpopular, then there’s always this response (to the tune of Rod Stewart’s ‘We Are Sailing’):
‘No one likes us, no one likes us,
No one likes us, we don't care!
We’re the Rapids, super Rapids,
We’re the Rapids, from the Park!’