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(Insert Cliché Firework Related Title Here)
Maybe its some kind of Jekyll and Hyde syndrome, but it looked like two different Rapids teams showed up for the 4th of July game. The wild and sporadic contrasts in their play seemed like a fine example of Colorado's overall performance this season.

The first half was a nerve-racking visit from Mr. Hyde. One thing that has been different about the Rapids this season is that at they come out of the gates fast at the first whistle...but they also end up falling flat on their face half of the time.

Less than 5 minutes into the match, Pedro seemed compelled to practice his impersonation of the fabled "Hand of God," but it resembled more of an "Air Jordan" and he palmed the ball into the Wizards net. The official promptly discounted the goal and dealt Pedro a yellow card.

As was the case for much of the game, the Wizards were a constant threat from outside the 18-yard box. The most noticeable was a ridiculously attractive goal by Chris Klein. After the right side of the Rapids defense gave him miles of real estate on the field, Klein proceeded to run to the top corner of the 18 and fired a laser into the upper corner of the goal. There wasn't much Bazooka Joe could do about that one.

Despite the spectacular fashion of the goal, it occurred because of a fundamental mistake the Rapids made. They essentially neglected that entire wing for most of the half. This happened because Lewis and Luchi (the present garrison) had a tendency to wander off from their posts like curious children. This left Klein and Co. to torment the defense at their pleasure.

The Rapids had a share of chances but it was mostly a series of long air balls to the attackers. I.E. bypassing the midfield type of habits.

In the 40th minute, Pedro continued his exciting escapades as Mr. Jordan. He again hand-swiped at a loose ball in the box. Though he missed the net this time, it didn't give the referee a second thought to give Pedro his second yellow of the game, thus sending him to the showers.

After that performance, you couldn't help but think about many other times the Rapids had been in this sort of situation. A lacking midfield was the main reason for the unsuccessful attack, and sloppy disorganization was the main reason for the unsuccessful defense. What could the second half possibly bring?

It's Jekyll.

Clavijo tweaked the lineup by subbing on Cooke and Beckerman for Luchi and Lewis. Throughout the season FC has been known to make some unusual subs. Coming into this game many would wonder what he was thinking by brining on a frequently injured player and a frequently invisible player. No one probably expected that this would be just the trick to adjust the team.

The Rapids chemistry seemed to work better with the changes. Despite sacrificing a defender for an additional midfielder, the defense looked much more organized. Colorado's chances on goal also became more frequent. One could hardly notice that the Rapids only had 10 men on the pitch.

Another thing that changed from a downer to an upper was the dead ball opportunities. Despite the agonizing trend of Rapids goals, both actually came form set pieces. Nkong finished the delivery on a corner kick and equalized. Shortly thereafter Cooke did something that Rapids fans rarely get to see, bending a dead ball around the wall and past the keeper.

After the Rapids gained the lead they thankfully did not play the infamous bunker ball. They continued to generate chances. Cooke and Beckerman also came back to help the defense when KC had the ball. This helped tremendously in comparison to the wandering children. Cannon was also the usual brick wall, grabbing everything (well, except for the jaw-droping kick save) that looked remotely dangerous. The Rapids held onto the lead and grabbed a must win game...how many times have we heard that?

This is the third time Colorado has won a game with a man disadvantage. On all three occasions when this has happened, the Rapids have been short for a large portions of the game. What makes these guys do so well when they are crippled? Do the players subconsciously put in 110% when they have to compensate for an absence? Does the desperate situation inspire them? Do they put drugs in the drinking water?

A more alarming question, however, is why don't rarely show this kind of effort or intensity when they have 11 players? Is it something with the teams chemistry? I think Clavijo really needs to confront these kind of questions.

It also wouldn't hurt if they practiced more dead ball opportunities. Every time they had a set piece in the game it was always that around that same spot, just outside the corner of the 18. With all the chances they had from there, you would hope that they would score eventually. Maybe the Englishmen is the key to this puzzle.

Another urgent thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that that the Rapids are scared to death of playing a through-ball. In this, and many other games this season, Cunningham, Pedro, Nkong, and Luchi would never even attempt to slide the ball between two defenders and into space. This team would have many more dangerous opportunities if they could properly utilize the trough-ball. This is why the Rapids need a good distributing midfielder. They need someone that can make those curtail final passes.

This game was a typical example of what the Rapids have both done right and wrong this year. Lets hope that they use this as a learning experience and make a turning point in the season. This win should leave a good taste in everyone's mouth. Besides, the gap between them and RSL just got bigger.
July 05, 2005 Patrick Quinn



Email: sean@mlsfan.net

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Scores
Sat., Apr. 14th
6:00PM ET
Salt Lake 0
Columbus 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
New England 0
Toronto 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
DC United 0
Kansas City Wizards 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
8:30PM ET
Houston 0
Chivas USA 0

Sat., Apr. 15th
3:00PM ET
New York 0
Dallas 0

Sun., Apr. 15th
8:00PM ET
Colorado 0
Chicago 0

Standings
East
Team Name Pts
Chicago 3
Columbus 1
New York 1
DC United 0
Kansas City 0
New England 0
Toronto 0

West
Team Name Pts
Dallas 4
Chivas USA 3
Colorado 3
Houston 1
Los Angeles 1
Salt Lake 1

Top Ten Scorers
Top 10 Scorers
Player Name Gls
Ruiz 2
Cooper 2
Cunningham 2
Kljestan 1
Brown 1
Emilio 1
H. Gomez 1
Findley 1
Razov 1
Pause 1