NE 1 – 0 Colorado: “You Do This, Tricky Pony!”

 (* The title gets explained all the way down at the bottom.  I bury leads with the best of ’em.)

Not even a late goal could retrieve the game that struck me as the snoozer of Week 26.  Only the most rabid of partisans would call New England’s win over the Rapids anything like just or deserved.  There is justice of a kind in the fact that neither team really gained, though: New England’s performance sends them into the playoffs sailing into the wind, while Colorado looks less like a playoff-bound club with each passing week.

Returning to an old tradition, I watched this one…a little sideways.  Just for the record, fortified wine can come in some surprisingly clever containers.

The stream-of-consciousness “half-dead” blog follows, typed now as I wrote it down then…in a steadily deteriorating hand.  Oh, I use parentheses and, um these thingies – [] where I feel like explanation is necessary.  Here goes:

 1ST HALF

– Both starting XI’s: WTF?  Heaps is where Riley ought to be.  Tony Sanneh at attacking mid?  Ugo Ihemelu on the Rapids’ right?

– [Conor] Casey was a wasted signing for the Rapids…gimpy git.

– Rapids homers [their announcers] are friggin’ awful.  (“They (that’s the Rapids) like to get forward”??  Are they watching the same team I’m watching?).

– Geez.  This one has all the atmosphere of a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, even.   I can hear the players breathe.

– Ah, Smith explains Ihemelu on the right.

– Fuck me.  I’m bored.

10th minute: Rapids just look clueless on offense; hell, both sides do…so many passes drifting over the end-line (and out of touch.  Seriously, this was awful, like rec ball in a team hit with a total loss of equilibrium).

– Next to RSL & RBNY (watched the first half earlier) this one looks like a severely hungover Sunday pub game.

– What do the Rapids have (on offense)?  Where do they have it?  (I blurted this out Admiral Stockdale style.  There’s just not a ton of quality on this team.)

19th minute: Great pressure by the Rapids.  (They picked up their intensity around this time.)

– Ralston will be the yardstick for future players, a kind of threshold for what constitutes the high-end in terms of consistent quality.

23rd minute: OK.  It’s a decent game now…did the teams sweat out the hooch or something?

– Actually, the Rapids kind of took the upper hand; they’re outplaying the Revs right now.

– 26th minute: Revs attack; a half-step off (passes going just behind players every time and the ball is sticking under their feet on runs; they kept pushing forward, but it was flat-out ragged); Ralston shoots (to end the play)

– Announcers again: “that sets the whole tone for the whole night.”  Just bloody awful.

– Ballouchy is just a sheet of a man, a whisp.

– Even as the game has picked up, scoring just doesn’t look likely.

– Announcer anecdote about wife – he said something about “it’s something you store away” for leverage in a later fight – is he drunk?  What the fuck possesses a man to say something like that?

– What’s with the music video fizzle in the video feed?  What is in this wine I’m drinking?

– Ballouchy (for a wisp of a man): great feet, good eyes; he can get there (by which I meant he could be a good player; play him wide and let him beat people because he can almost always find an opening with skills like he’s got.)

– NE end’zone font (the thing in front of the fans that says “NEW ENGLAND”) is that “ghetto” font, is it supposed to look like a tag?  The Revs?  Um…not a great fit for this club.

– Colin Clark is running the Revs stupid; it’s like foul, foul, foul, every time he gets the ball.

– The homer thing [the announcers] isn’t always bad; they obsess on the Rapids angle in the playoff race; you know the details intimately.

AT THE HALF: Rapids’ half really (insofar as either team had much to get excited about).  More chaos in NE’s area; Rapids have kept the shots long going the other way.  It could be the Cristman/Noonan pairing, not synching and not creating options for one another.

2nd HALF

– Clark pulls nut-rub on Shalrie: Brilliant!! (What’s the “nut-rub?”  It’s when a player walks past another after a play ended when one is, say, tying his shoe (as Shalrie was doing), and, to let him know you’re there, you brush against him; in this case Clark brushed his junk on Joseph.  Nice touch, I thought, and very animalistic.)

– I think Cooke has checked out mentally.  (By that I meant Terry Cooke once seemed to think he could elevate the team by playing hard.  I think he’s given up on this bunch and might look for a new gig next season.)

– Mastroeni just went down.  I say he gets up; that’s just dead leg.

– NE just isn’t there.  Misfiring, imaginative as an accountant with depression.  (This is where I had a brainwave about New England, where I think I totally figured out the team its strengths and limitations; here goes:)  Their game relies on quality individuals playing their position well.  (Thus) Off-games for key players become fatal.  This is why DC is a better team.  They play the game well and/or right: player movement, quick passing (e.g. they play the fundamentals well).  Play right, success follows.  (What I’m getting at isn’t quite the same as saying teams should surrender individuality to “a system.”  It’s just when you do the fundamentals correctly – i.e. moving, supporting, passing quickly, keeping the defense off-balance – that brings success all on its own; individual off-games get swallowed up in simply playing the game as it should be played.)

– See?  (Smith lost the ball on the dribble, just inside New England’s half.)  Smith just played his role – e.g. take guys on, run to the end-line – only he did it too deep on the field.  (It’s like he doesn’t do anything but run at people.)

53rd minute: Luckiest save I’ve ever seen.  Bouna was sitting on his butt and the ball all but hopped into his arms.

PSA: Santa Rita 120: Don’t drink this shit.  It makes you mad in both senses.

– Ballouchy…he could work as a wing player for the Nats.

– (That lead to this thought): It breaks my heart Joseph can’t play for the Nats.  That guy is so damn dominant.

– Who got rid of Petke (i.e. who sent him out of New York)?  Dumb decision.  He’s got good-size and…he’s just good.

65th minute: It’s time for the Ralston in the middle experiment; he’s all NE has for creativity.

– Lot of yellows out there; pretty ugly stuff.

– Fuck, Dorman’s ugly (I saw him in profile…don’t know why I write such things).

– Ihemelu is a quality player, kind of Petke-style.  These guys aren’t gods or anything, but they’re good defenders, about 95% reliable.

75th minute: the Ralston experiment begins.

– Noonan needs Twellman.  That bludgeoning, running style Twellman brings allows Noonan to kind of shadow him, to pick up stray passes and exploit openings.

– Is Cummings a little like Chris Brown?  Abe Thompson!  Yes!!  They’re all in the mold of a specific type of MLS striker: call ’em the Alejandro Moreno Model striker. (High energy, bustling forwards with a decent enough shot, but none of ’em have that “striker magic,” the ability to make a goal out of nothing or to slip defenders.)  Moreno is like a wrestler, the way he positions his body and uses it; very unique.

81st minute: Is it just me or are the fans cheering for anything to happen?  Anyone to score?  Whew, this is boring.

– If Cristman grows as a player, he’s going to be friggin’ good.

– Khano Smith looks like a stegosaurus.

– Both teams do this: they push the ball up until about 10 yards before the 18; they get stalled within that space, no one up front has room to maneuver and there are too many bodies between the players off the ball and the guy holding it.  Hard to watch.

88th minute: What a fucking GOAL!!  All Smith!!  All Smith!!  (And, here, it ends.  It was a tough ending for Colorado, but Smith’s run was brilliantly alert and he is such a strong player.  * Sometimes the trick pony doing his one trick works all right.  New England is counting on that to win MLS Cup.  I’m saying here and now, not that it can’t happen, but I sincerely doubt it will.)

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