Jack Price was missed against Seattle
Price was forced to sit out Wednesday’s match because of yellow card accumulation after he picked up a booking against Vancouver in Sunday’s win. Micheal Azira filled in for #19 in midfield and as Rapids fans know, Azira’s game is focused on breaking up plays, covering tons of ground and providing a shield for the central defenders. In only his third start of the season, Azira played well, but Jack’s Price’s clean technical ability on the ball, vision going forward and ability to get out of tight spots is what has set him apart in the first half of his first MLS campaign. It’s also what’s made him one of the most valuable signings for the Rapids this past offseason.
Shkëlzen Gashi paired with Azira in midfield and the Albanian international provided some of the vision and creativity going forward that fans are used to seeing when Price is policing the middle of the park. But Gashi is at his most dangerous lurking under the forwards and using his vision in the attacking third, not battling for possession in his own half. Kudos to Gashi for a great shift and impacting the game as much as he has in a long time, but he’s not a like-for-like swap with Jack Price. The Rapids are much better with both Gashi and Price on the pitch and will need both on Saturday in Montreal.
It was good to have Kortne Ford back
Kortne Ford made his first MLS start of 2018 in front of the home fans Wednesday night. As expected with such a long injury, Kort looked a bit rusty at times as far as his positioning and decision making but his fitness was spot on. He still looked as fresh in the 90th minute as he did in the first 15. That’s a great sign for Rapids fans.
The biggest impact Ford makes when he steps on the field come because of his athleticism. Against Seattle, he made a few tackles and tracked back on several occasions in a way that nobody else on the Rapids roster has the ability to emulate. He didn’t look fully comfortable in the air, but that will return soon enough. Pairing Kort with Tommy Smith and Axel Sjöberg, two veterans who are masters at knowing where to position themselves at any given moment, will help to continue his education at this level.
#24 is one of the most promising young defenders in the league and if he stays healthy he’ll be a difference maker the rest of the season.
A tip of the cap to Stefan Frei
Frei has made a name for himself over recent years making big saves for Seattle. I don’t have a catalog of all of Frei’s best stops off the top of my head, but the full-extension denial he made in the 82nd minute to ABSOLUTELY ROB Shkëlzen Gashi and the Rapids of a game-tying goal has to be among the best he’s ever made. The split-second read of the ball making it’s way across his box to Gashi, the quickness to get off his feet and the reach behind his body were incredible. It’s the best save I’ve seen in person in 25 years of watching soccer. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other guy.
Happy Independence Day Rapids fans.