Oscar Pareja, Atiba Harris, Clint Irwin, Hendry Thomas

View from the Booth: Preparation and will inspire victory over rivals

Readers of last week's 'View from the Booth' will be familiar with a famous quote, tweeted by Edson Buddle, which appears rather more appropriate following the gutsy 1-0 home win over Real Salt Lake.

If you recall, Buddle re-tweeted the following Sports Quotes (@Sports_Greats) tweet: "In sport, you don't get what you wish for, you get what you work for."

The Colorado Rapids worked for their first victory of the season, and not just for the 90 minutes inside Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

As Clint Irwin made clear afterwards, his penalty save off Alvaro Saborio - the first the Costa Rican had missed in 13 for RSL - was as much due to the research carried out by goalkeeping coach Chris Sharpe.

Sharpe had noted Saborio's penalty routine, passed that on to Irwin, who was then put through mock penalty kicks in practice.

Irwin Credits Coaches for PK Save


Eye-brows were raised within some quarters at the decision to start Atiba Harris ahead of Tony Cascio. After all, Cascio had worked well with Chris Klute down the left-hand side in the 2-2 tie with the Timbers only seven days earlier.

Who swept home what turned out to be the winner after just five minutes? Atiba Harris.

So, two players who played significant roles in the Rapids' first win of the season - Irwin and Harris - were able to shine due to the influence of others.

We're all guilty as fans of sport. When our team does well we praise the players. Should our team falter and fall short of what we expect then - more often than not - our sharpest criticism is left for the coaches.

And, yet, performances such as we saw against Real Salt Lake are truly a team effort. Oscar Pareja - a proud and honest man - poured praise on his players post-match. And rightly so, though he and the rest of the coaching staff deserve their time in the sporting spotlight also.

Real Salt Lake enjoyed some success against Seattle the previous week from a well-rehearsed corner-kick routine. As a result, the Rapids coaching staff had the squad work on defending corner kicks in practice, over and over and over again.

Preparation, diligence, hard work, unity, the will to win, determination, heart, desire and - yes - a little slice of good fortune, all went into the 1-0 victory.

Clearly there are still areas of concern. Saborio lost his marker in the box on a number of occasions, and was able to get off free headers. Thankfully, his radar was out of kilter and the Rapids survived.

Goal: Thomas to LaBrocca to Buddle to Harris


Concentration levels are still not quite there, though top teams will always get chances. And, in six games this season, the Rapids have managed just five goals.

That said, many positives came out of the victory. Edson Buddle played less than 60 minutes, and yet it was his hard work which allowed Harris to net his first for the Rapids. The frontman proved a real handful. His strength, and ability to hold up the ball, offered the Rapids a dimension they've been lacking this season.

Hendry Thomas is a man you want in a scrap. On Saturday he was floored two or three times, only to rise, recover and return even more determined. He was an absolute rock in midfield.

Defensively, there was the pace of Marvell Wynne and the calming influence of Brian Mullan, blending effectively with the youthful exuberance of Shane O'Neill and Klute, and all backed by the growing talent which is Irwin.

And, of course, victory now hands the initiative to the Rapids in the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup, with the third and final instalment to come at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on August 3rd (PARTIAL TICKET PLAN).

It was a first win of the season. It was a first clean sheet as well. Of course it would be easy to get over-excited and believe that all was well with the world. I've been in this game long enough to know that's not the case, but the green shoots of recovery were in evidence against Real Salt Lake.

Next up for the team is a return to the Home Depot Center, to face Chivas on Saturday (8:30 p.m., live on Altitude2). And should something special happen, the likelihood is, it won't have been by chance.