10 Bright Spots of Week 3: A Different Becks and A Good Weekend to Have a Keeper

BIGSOCCER: 10 Bright Spots of Week 3

1. Kyle Beckerman

Someone pinch this guy. Two goals, one a possible goal of the week, against a revamped D.C. United squad that looked helpless at the machinations of a fluid RSL attack. Beckerman was overwhelmingly the reason for that. He won balls in the midfield, showed near-perfect passing abilities, and never let up. Let’s not forget his long range shooting. Beckerman’s second goal was brilliant…Findley laid the ball off after posting up in the penalty box, Beckerman took a field goal’s three steps and fired a shot that powered past the flailing Jose Carvallo.

2. Arturo Alvarez

Alvarez gave RBNY a taste of their own medicine in a 2-0 shutout at home. He mirrored Dave van den Bergh, who scored the fastest goal in RBNY history in last week’s home opener – a 2-0 win over Columbus. Alvarez showed poise, blazing speed, and a general lack of respect for a fumbling New York backline. New York showed most of the attacking prowess, but Alvarez made his contributions count, scoring that quick goal and taking a lot of pressure off of big-man Kenny Cooper, who was able to grab his third of the young season.

3. Bouna Coundoul

Easily, save of the week and game of the week for the Colorado keeper. Coundoul weathered a storm of Revolution shots, 9 on goal total, to help Colorado to a 1-0 shutout. His goal line saver on Kenny Mansally was the most entertaining of the bunch, but Coundoul kept the Rapids from another Kansas City let down. The Revs almost found their equalizer late but it was Bouna time and he embraced it, parrying away a late free kick and a breakaway from rookie speedster Kheli Dube. 

4. Robbie Rogers

First this game made me dizzy. Secondly, Rogers exploits on the wing made me harken back to the U-20 World Cup when Zizzo and Rogers ruled the touchline. His industrious work on the left almost went unrewarded until he received a nice through ball from Schelloto (one they had been trying to get to work all game). Rogers made the most of it, feigning a shot to the far post and firing near. His second shot was a product of gasp! – a mistake on Brad Guzan’s part! – but his decision to shoot early threw last year’s MLS Keeper of the Year for a loop. Best game of the weekend… 

5. Landon Donovan

If Donovan had put some earlier chances in (turn your body, Landon, turn your body), the Galaxy might have overcome their defensive mishaps. He did however manage to score both of LA’s goals which was pissed all away after Greg Vanney decided to forget about Jeff Cunningham on the game-winning goal. I like him in the Galaxy’s offense this year and I see only a career year for him – if he stays healthy and Beckham too.

6. Maurice Edu

The man called for goals and he got them. Wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Edu covering every inch of the field like a madman. He was everywhere, winning balls, breaking up Galaxy advances, and giving new acquisitions Guevara and Robert the freedom to move with the ball. The Galaxy should have probably still won that game, but Edu delivered on his promise of a win and goals. And they did it in Los Angeles… 

7. Nick LaBrocca

Why not give #7 to the man from New Jersey who has “graduated” from the Colorado reserves and embraced his role in the Rapids midfield. Between LaBrocca and DiRaimondo, scrappy might describe both of them but when you have Gomez (let’s remember the Argentinian had to leave the field this weekend with a knee injury) in front of them, winning challenges and distribution is the name of the game. LaBrocca grabbed the winner for Colorado over a New England team that was putting a lot of pressure on Colorado offensively. Scrappy can win games though and Colorado came away with three.

8. Shea Salinas

Yep, along with #10, you’ll see two pity picks in this week’s Bright Spots. Salinas was the perfect injection for San Jose in the second half against Chicago and it almost paid off. Almost. He worked his ass off on the wing, getting open consistently, and finding himself in the right place at the right time…but he couldn’t convert. Most noticably from 2 yards out. A deflection off the post fell right to his feet and all Salinas had to do was beat Jon Busch far post, but instead he tried to slot over the sprawling Busch and into the upper corner. Didn’t work, he skied it, and that was that…win for Chicago. Great stuff from a rookie though…look for him to get better and better.

9. Jon Busch

San Jose had the offensive edge at home but Busch made it look the other way around. Saved by the post and only really threatened with shots that were a bit manageable, Busch has proven already that he can be the first team keeper that the Fire desperately need this year. It’s clear some defensive issues are going to need to be worked out, but Chicago still sits at the top of the table with Blanco already poised to surpass his output from last year.

10. Tony Caig

I know, I know…most of you are saying no way to this pick. This guy had a terrible showing in his first two matches only to come back this weekend and shut out a prolific Kansas City attack. The Wizards have been caught on a bit of a downturn in form, but Caig held his own. Basically, this is a pity pick.

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Colorado Rapids 2007 Season Review: The Difference between “Playing” and “Eating”

Colorado Rapids
Record (W-L-T): 9-13-8; 29 GF; 34 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports

Overview
It seems fitting somehow that I should approach a review of the Colorado Rapids 2007 in the same almost aggressively feckless manner in which the Rapids’ front office runs the team – e.g. not reading the match reports, but operating from memory. I understand this isn’t logical, but, given how they run their team, neither is the continued existence of the Rapids. This review also involves an element of the personal; after all, in my 2007 Western Conference preview, I wrote “I see great things coming out of Denver this year.”

Obviously, this is not what happened. In fact, some of the worst things came out of Denver in 2007. Colorado not only missed the playoffs, but managed to violate standards of aesthetics along the way. This was supposed to be a great year in Colorado, if for no better reason than the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a soccer-specific stadium to call to home. Apparently, the memo about playing at The Dick as oppose to eating dick, failed to reach the relevant parties. Is it any wonder that enthusiasm seems in shorter supply in Colorado than in any other MLS market?

All right, all right. Time to talk about games. Optimism – Colorado fans’ and mine – was somewhat justified till around June. The team started a respectable 4-2-3 with the losses coming to Western Conference powerhouses like the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas (OK, maybe not the second so much). The team had a colossal forward in Panamanian Roberto Brown, who seemed ideally suited for latching onto crosses from Terry Cooke, who either led or tied for assists in 2006. With Bouna Coundoul providing incredible value at ‘keeper the trade that swapped ‘keeper Joe Cannon for Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu looked all upside.

And then, at some point – it matters so little when that I’m not going to look it up – Roberto Brown was shipped off to wherever they send out-of-shape players and, possibly around the same time, Gomez went down. And when Gomez fell, the Rapids offense collapsed with him; stars from yesteryear – players like “Nico” Hernandez, Jovan Kirovski, and Jacob Peterson – picked up too little of the slack to register. If there’s a silver lining in all this, it comes with the arrival of Toronto FC: had they not been around and sucking eggs on offense everyone would have noticed that Colorado beat the goal-scoring nadir set by the Columbus Crew in 2006; Colorado scored only 29 goals over 30 games, just edging out the Crew’s earlier league record of 30 in 30 games.

In their defense, the Rapids had a defense of which they can be proud: only Houston and Chivas had a better defensive record and Colorado’s finest tied Supporters’ Shield winners DC United. And it’s not like the team stood pat amid the problems. Clavijo scrambled up a couple of acquisitions like forwards Daniel Osorno and Conor Casey. Unfortunately, discussing roster changes leads to the one Clavijo got very wrong: sending Kyle Beckerman, a centerpiece of the team, to Rocky Mountain rivals Real Salt Lake in exchange for Mehdi Ballouchy, a whisp of a midfielder who, for all his “skillz,” is still finding his feet as a pro.

All that may read a little harsh. Moreover, I can’t claim to know a hell of a lot about the Rapids because, any time past May, every time I started to watch them play, I wanted to stop shortly thereafter. Continue reading