On the wide expanses of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Colorado Rapids are able more often than not to build patiently, creating openings throughout any given game.
But in the narrow confines of CommunityAmerica Ballpark tonight in Kansas, it seemed they barely had any time to forge such openings—not enough time to spread the ball wide, lots of very quick and not necessarily effective passing in the center of the field.
Saying that, it was the Rapids who created the two best chances of the first half. Chances that needed to be taken given they were so few and far between. Omar Cummings blasted one from point blank range in the 23rd minute which somehow was saved by the Kansas City goalkeeper’s ear. And Mehdi Ballouchy, who had done well to get into a great scoring position, blasted over from about six yards from a Cummings cross right at the end of the first 45 minutes.
“The big moment for me was when Mehdi skyed it over the bar,” coach Gary Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “The first half was a real pitched battle and, if we had come in with something, it could have been a buffer for us to hold on to.”
Once KC scored the only goal of the game early in the second half, they were able to control the game a little more, stroking the ball around and frustrating any effort the Rapids made to create.
The only major chance of the second half resulted in a disallowed goal for Conor Casey, set up by Cummings after Wells Thompson’s shot was parried away. Cummings, however, was in an offside position. An already challenging situation was made no easier by the sending off of Julien Baudet in the 71st minute.
Things to note and quotes from the coach:
- Gary Smith partially answered some of the questions that remain about what will eventually constitute the primary starting back four by giving a first start for the season to Baudet in central defense. Marvell Wynne continued at center back while Drew Moor moved out wide to the left and Kosuke Kimura continued in the right back position. Danny Earls, who had started both previous games at left back, was the odd man out this time. Partially answered but Baudet will miss the next game given his red card tonight.
- “I just thought it suited us better physically to have Julien,” Smith said. “Ultimately, that was our Achilles heel because he got sent off. I thought Drew Moor was absolutely terrific at left back and Marvell Wynne was outstanding again.”
- Good to see some game time for Jamie Smith who was ultimately unable to make much impact on the narrow field. Smith entered the game in the 61st minute for his first minutes of the season after battling back from a hamstring injury
- “Jamie did ok,” Smith said. “It was tough for him but he will get more minutes on Tuesday which will stand him in good stead for Toronto.” The Rapids are at home to Toronto next Sunday, April 18.
- Good experience also for new boy Quincy Amarikawa who came on for the last ten minutes following his move to Colorado from San Jose this week.
- Some of the players will be staying on in Kansas for Tuesday’s Open Cup game against the same opposition. Smith said one or two players feeling knocks from tonight’s game would be later decisions for Tuesday. “But I won’t be far away from what I was thinking,” the coach said.
- Claudio Lopez, now confirmed as having his visa issues sorted out, looks likely to play some time in the Open Cup game.
- Colorado have not won in Kansas City since Sept. 14, 2002 going 0-7-3 since that time.
- Rapids have not allowed a goal this season in open play. Three goals allowed this year (1 off a corner kick, 1 off a free kick and 1 PK).
- DEF Julien Baudet, making his first start of the season, received team's first red card of the season, following his serious foul play on Kei Kamara in the 72nd minute. Baudet received stitches in his lip at halftime as a result of an elbow from Kamara.
More from Gary Smith:
“I thought we were competitive against a decent side. We defended well. We had good energy. There were some slight disappointments of quality at times. But if anyone looks at that game and says we don't deserve a point, they saw a different game than me. It was a well fought game, a tough battle."
On the ejection of Baudet:
"It changed the course of events. We're one man down and in a very difficult spot. But I can't praise the players enough for the work that they put in. We had one or two opportunities we should have converted and didn't. This game is about fine lines."
On the goal that got called offside:
“I couldn't see it from where I was. I thought Wells (Thompson) did terrifically to break inside and get a good shot off. I couldn't see down in that corner. Until I see a replay…I hope it was [offside].”
On not securing a point on the road:
"It's a huge disappointment. Certainly we need to improve our quality inside, there's no doubt about that. I think early season you get that. Maybe it’s a lack of fluency and connection between certain individuals. But we’re absolutely delighted with how they played in the game. To come away with nothing in this game is a real kick in the teeth for us.”
On playing Kansas City in Open Cup play in a few days:
"We'll mix our group up a little bit. I'm sure it will be no less competitive. There are a lot of guys in there looking for their opportunity. If we can get something out of that game, I'd be delighted. We certainly want to win it."