I don't want to make too much of a glorified friendly like the game the Rapids had against Everton last Sunday evening. Glorified scrimmage? Yes, that is what the "international exhibition" is in terms of the game. Everton was working to get match fit and look at some players. For example, Everton manager David Moyes was using highly touted 17-year old Jack Rodwell as a midfielder. The talented Rodwell, who's the youngest player to have appeared for Everton's first team, has been a defender up until now.
Fernando Clavijo on the other hand put out his first team. The only differences were starting Preston Burpo in goal and using Jose Burciaga as one of the 3 defenders in the back instead of 4 in back. Despite fielding a strong squad, right off the bat the Rapids showed the defensive issues they've had all year (in fact, I've argued in the past defensive issues they've had during Clavijo's tenure with last year being a fluke; here and here). Mikel Arteta got the ball in the middle of the park and ran at the Rapids. Nothing special yet everyone kept backing off of him. Arteta showed his skills using the space he had to let loose with a 22 yard shot for a nice goal. For all the talk about the embarrassing goal by the Crew's Ekpo a few weeks ago for the game winner in Columbus, the Rapids don't seem to have learned.
What makes it more frustrating is that Clavijo is clearly aware of the team's defensive issues. As he said :
It's still a concern that it's too easy to break us down.Jump ahead to the 65th minute. Everton was clearly gased. They're not match fit, they'd been training in 100F heat, and they were playing at elevation (over a mile high). Yet the Rapids did little to take advantage. They were again failing to get the ball to Christian Gomez and utilize his skills. Apart from a couple of wonderful saves by Everton's Tim Howard, the Rapids were failing to put their frequent shots on frame. Only Colin Clarke looked like he was interested in taking advantage of Everton's heavy legs.
-Fernando Clavijo on the Everton games last Sunday
To close the game out, the Rapids defensive organization issues again reared it's ugly head. They young Everton sub Baxter get a little run with the ball in the box where he slotted the ball across to a relatively open Leon Osman to slot it home. With only a couple minutes left in the game and faced with an exhausted Everton, the Rapids defense yet again came unhinged and let the opposing team score their 2nd goal for the win.
It's hard to see the Rapids making the playoffs if they can't count on their defense keeping the goals out, especially when they're on the road. FC Rocky had a guest writer take a look at the playoffs the other day. You can read the post here.
Liverpool's Daily Post on the exhibition game here.
View From The Couch on the Everton game here.
Kyle at The Offside on the game here.
Nick at We Want Rapidman takes a look at the game and also notes Colins 2nd half performance.
And Class VI's Josh Vaismann takes a look at the game with player ratings here.