Jul 28, 2012
The game couldn’t have started off worse for the Rapids, as some simply atrocious marking by the Rapids defense let the resurgent Eddie Johnson put home a simple header off a set piece from Morales in the 2nd minute. Then just over a minute later, Brian Mullan sent a beautiful ball in behind the back 4 of Seattle. Drew Moor (not a typo) made a great run up the right wing and guided it with his left boot into the top corner. 3 minutes gone, 1-1.
The game settled down, with the Sounders clogging up the middle, but the Rapids finding plenty of space on the wings (nod to @CapTied96). Mullan sent cross after cross in from the wings, but the Rapids weren’t able to generate any clear cut changes. Nane seemed bound by an invisible cord to staying back — perhaps he was ordered to focus on defensive duties alongside Larentowicz. We looked much more like the Rapids of old, not just in personnel but in form: the strong spine, runs up the wing and crosses into the middle. Perhaps not the fluid possession game Pareja had in mind when he took over, but it is the personnel we have (and we did win a cup with it).
In a reminder we are the Rapids of 2012 not 2011, we nearly gifted a goal to Eddie Johnson on a sloppy back pass (foreshadowing things to come), but he hit the post in the 23′. The Sounders were content to absorb the pressure and play the counter game, which they do quite well. In amidst flops by Morales and whiny behavior by Eddie Johnson, the Rapids started to find the key to unlocking the middle of the defense, with Zapata and other wide players making diagonal runs from the wing to join the attack. The Rapids worked very, very hard in the first half and were rewarded with a few more half chances in the first half. Oh and Conor sort of piledrived (piledrove?) the goalie on a cross. It was awesome. Hope it makes the highlight reel.
Casey started off the second half by just missing the post. He picked up a loose ball after another great Zapata run up the wing, and should’ve hit the target with as much time as he had to settle. The Rapids continued to bully the Flounders and Floppers with physical play from Larentowicz, Mullan, and Wynne. Nane seemed to get pushed off the ball a bit too easily at times, but was adequate until being replaced with a half hour left by Thompson.
However, sloppy back passes cost us again, as a back pass from Casey setup an attack that eventually ended with Johnson sending a cross into the box that Alonso volleyed home quite nicely. It was against the run of play, and a video we’ve seen before. Casey nearly redeemed himself with a diving header that went just wide. As the ESPN Deportes guy next to me said, he needed a mohawk and it was a goal. Rivero nearly caught the goalie sleeping on a free kick that he sent off the post in the 75′. The chances continued to come as super-sub Kamani hill setup Casey who couldn’t beat the fingertips of the keeper on another you’d expect him to bury. More crosses…more crosses…and time finally ran out.
After the heartbreaking 2-1 loss in Toronto, Pareja remarked “Sometimes in games like these you are searching for answers and today’s game is one of those games where we lost more than the points, I felt we lost our identity and that is very disappointing.” Maybe we didn’t lose our identity. Maybe we are just trying to brush the dust off the one we already had. With a solid spine and energized wide play, we generated enough to win. However, failing to convert and a couple lapses in concentration doomed us.