Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rapids Beat Chicago

It was nice to see the Rapids pick up their 3 win in 5 games with Gary Smith in charge on Sunday. The only other time the Rapids have gone into half-time with a 2-0 lead this year was the July 4th game against New York Red Bull. That game was also at home at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

With better finishing and possession against Chicago, the Rapids could have done more damage to the league's best road team. Their fast start lead to Colorado being more than happy in the 2nd half to sit back and absorb Chicago's pressure. The Fire, with Brian McBride and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, mustered a few decent chances but that was it.

Most glaringly missing from Chicago's game were free kicks in goal scoring range. This year alone we've seen Chicago pull themselves back into a match they were out of after getting one in a dangerous spot for Blanco to put in the back of the net. On Sunday Pablo Mastroeni own Blanco. Blanco was kept so quiet that the most entertaining moment of the game was watching him in a foot race for the ball with fellow non-speedster Mike Petke.

Speaking of Blanco, in his short time in the MLS he's earned himself a reputation as a diver. He lacked opportunities to show off that "skill" in the match. But he did show himself to also be skilled in the art of whining. Toward the end of the match he went up for a 50/50 ball against Mastroeni. They both ended up falling to the ground. It was directly in front of referee Terry Vaughn. From the beginning of the match, Vaughn established that he was going to let the boys play. While writhing on the ground holding his back, Chicago got the ball and was attacking in the box. This prompted Mexican team legend Blanco to get up and trot toward the box all the while holding his hand on his back. Last I checked, there isn't a medical doctor in the US that espouses healing back injuries via your team getting the ball. But it seemed to work for Blanco.

After the match, Blanco proceeded to head over to match officials to show off his side and plead his case. It's a shame that a player with so much talent can't being a man and just take his lumps. It leaves feeling sorry for his mother. If he's whining like this at age, just imagine what a pain in the rear he was as a child.

With the win, the Rapids still have a good chance of making the play-offs with 6 games remaining in the season (3 at home). But talk about a revival under Gary Smith, like that over at Major League Soccer Talk, are premature. This team still has a way to go in turning around their overall level of play. Sure they've won 3 of their last 5. But note that MLST offers up nothing in tangible evidence of a revival beyond the wins. Nevertheless, the Rapids are on the right path. Could we be seeing Gary Smith at the helm in 2009?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saints Travel To QPR

Southampton heads north to London to play QPR today. Saints have a single win with 3 loses in their first 4 games. It's not an encouraging start even for Saints fans who don't have high hopes for this season.

QPR have a few knocks and we should expect a few new faces since their last game, a 1-1 tie with high flying Bristol City. Saints Michael "Killer" Svensson along with Wayne Thomas look like they'll miss the game. So it's going to be a young back line for Southampton with Chelsea loanee Jack Cort is likely to get a start. And that back line will have their hands full with ex-Saint Dexter Blackstock.

Blackstock isn't the only ex-Saint Southampton is likely to face tomorrow. Fitz Hall is with QPR now after being with Crystal Palace and Wigan before landing at Loftus Road last April. The other ex-Saint is QPR's new manager Ian Dowie. Dowie's career as a center forward involved many teams, with his longest stint with with Southampton where he scored 30 goals in 122 games.

Can Southampton pull off a win? It doesn't seem likely with this young squad on the road. Especially with how well QPR has been playing to start the season. Southampton's sole win in league play this season was at Exter. A win but would a surprise. A tie is something I expect to see from this team. They need to show they have the sort of fight in them they'll need to avoid relegation during the long Championship season.