Connect with us

MLS

Keys Against LAFC: Find a Rhythm and Repeat Decision Day Performance

Published

on


The narratives and storylines are overflowing ahead of the Colorado Rapids matinee clash Saturday afternoon against Los Angeles Football Club.

First, LAFC currently sit atop the Supporters’ Shield standings, and are the measuring stick so far in the MLS season. On top of that, the match will mark the return of midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who will be back at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park for the first time since an offseason transaction saw him join the Black and Gold.

The Rapids are just below the playoff line, haven’t lost at home and have only conceded one goal across all competitions in the six matches they’ve hosted at elevation. But LAFC will pose perhaps the stiffest test for the Burgundy Boys. As mentioned above, they have the most points in MLS, and they’ve scored the most goals (23).

After one turbulent season that saw LAFC miss the MLS Cup Playoffs, Bob Bradley, who had managed the club since its inception, left the club and headed to Toronto to manage the Reds. There was roster overhaul – most noticeably the addition of Kellyn Acosta – but also picking up players like Ilie to bolster their midfield. Add in Chicho Arango, who has just two goals and one assist in league play but is still threatening around goal and creating space for others, and you’ve got the necessary ingredients to cook up a team that can win every trophy they play for in 2022.

Sports are hard. They’re designed to be difficult. But LAFC make racking up points in MLS look easy. Since they joined the league, all they do is score goals. They have maybe the best player in the league in Mexican winger Carlos Vela. He was the 2019 MVP, single-season goal king (34) and unequivocal leader of a club that embraces and meets its Hollywood hype. Everything they do on and off the field is meant to be a statement that lets everybody know they have the flash, swagger and talent to go far.

Replacing Bob Bradley has been Steve Cherundolo who has stepped into his first MLS managerial gig and righted the ship. He’s passed every early season test with flying colors. So far he’s gotten the tactics right, he sets up his players for success and his locker room management so far is equal to the task.

As much as this is a stiff test for the Rapids, it’s going to be as equally as difficult for the visitors. They’re 1-2-0 at elevation, losing the last two. The Rapids have shown they can stand blow for blow against LAFC, so here’s how they can get all three points:

Recover

After the Rapids Round of 32 USOC match against Minnesota United FC was postponed and delayed about 12ish hours, everybody started doing math about how soon the turnaround time was for the LAFC match Saturday. Not only is it difficult to play soccer matches with one day of rest in between, it is mentally draining. It is mentally difficult to get focused in on a game, eat the right amount of calories, hydrate, get enough sleep, stretch and be ready to go three times in four days. Undoubtedly the Rapids will be up for it, but it’ll be a taxing weekend for the players and staff.

Inhibit Ilie

Of all the players to mention and discuss for LAFC, I’m picking Ilie because so many of the others are too obvious. Everybody knows you have to slow down Carlos Vela, you have to have a good game plan to deny Arango service in the box. That’s almost too obvious and too on the nose. But the former Barcelona academy player who had a long, successful stint in Kansas City is now in LA. He pulls the strings, he sees things other players don’t and he has the talented left foot to pull off every ambitious pass he wants to. If he’s given time to jog with the ball at his feet, pick up his head and scan the defense like a quarterback at the line of scrimmage, he’ll rip every team apart. Step to him, deny the obvious passing lanes, force him to retreat. And if he does get ambitious and try to hit miracle balls to Vela on the wing, make them as difficult as possible.

Find the Rhythm

In their last league game, the 1-0 loss on the road to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Rapids looked a little disjointed for the 90 minutes. Passes were just a little bit off, the connections just weren’t quite there, and they eventually paid for it by being unable to find the back of the net. The road woes haven’t translated to home games, but the confidence at home hasn’t translated to the road. There are so many reasons for why teams play better at home than on the road. Some of them are psychological and have to do with the thrill of playing in front of your own fans, and some of them are physiological and are related to plane rides and sleeping in hotel beds instead of your own. This game, against the top of the league, is a great springboard opportunity to continue doing what the Rapids have done at home and carry it into a road match. There isn’t a team in MLS the Rapids would feel outmatched by at elevation. Find that confidence, connect some passes, get on the same wavelength as the guy next to you. We’ve seen the Rapids dismantle LAFC on this pitch before. They played that match last year with all the swagger and confidence of a team fighting for the top of the West. It’s time to go find that spark and turn it into a flame.





Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

MLS

Alex Roldán turned down call-up to El Salvador

Published

on

By


Alex Roldán was conspicuously left off El Salvador’s roster for some upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches. On Friday, El Salvador coach Hugo Perez explained why.

“To close this chapter I want to say that Roldán is not coming because he is not happy with what happened before the game against Canada,” he said in Spanish. “He prefers to take some more time to digest that. But that is the reason, there is no other. Those are things that don’t have to happen, but they did. But we can’t do anything anymore, we have to turn the page and move on.”

The incident in question happened in February, when the El Salvador players released a statement saying that they intended not to play a World Cup qualifier due to a dispute over bonuses. Although they eventually relented, some hard feelings apparently persisted.

The 2-0 loss to Canada effectively eliminated El Salvador from World Cup contention and Roldán was not part of the team during the final qualifying window, nor a friendly in April.

Although Roldán only made his El Salvador debut during last summer’s Gold Cup, he’s already made 15 appearances and established himself as a team captain.

In a Twitter post, Roldán didn’t offer a ton of elaboration but did say that he “didn’t want to come back with bad thoughts and ruin relationships” and left the door open for a return in the future.

El Salvador’s loss is the Sounders’ gain, however, as Roldán will now be available for the team’s June 14 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.





Source link

Continue Reading

MLS

João Paulo undergoes ‘successful’ ACL surgery

Published

on

By


João Paulo underwent “successful” ACL surgery on Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders announced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bert Mandelbaum in Santa Monica, Calif., the same doctor who did both of Jordan Morris’ ACL procedures. The injury occurred during the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final on May 4.

Generally speaking, the recovery timeline for ACL surgeries is 6-9 months, which means the earliest João Paulo could return is sometime early next year, most likely in February or March. If the Club World Cup takes place in 2023, the thinking seems to be that it would likely happen in mid-February. The MLS regular season usually starts in late February or early March.

It took Morris about eight months to return from his most recent ACL surgery, but he was about five years younger than João Paulo is now. Jordy Delem needed almost a full year to recover from his ACL injury.



Source link

Continue Reading

MLS

Drew Moor, Colorado Rapids look to extend record unbeaten home stretch

Published

on

By


It is a bit of a family reunion in Colorado this Holiday weekend as the Rapids finally welcome Nashville SC into DSGP for the first time. Old-timers (like myself) will see a few familiar names on the staff as the visitors are led by Head Coach Gary Smith, and assistant Steve Guppy, Matt Pickens, and Kosuke Kimura, all of whom were part of the 2010 MLS Cup winning side in Colorado.

Another member of that historic squad is Colorado’s own Drew Moor, who has fond memories of that group and is looking forward to welcoming his old mates back to the stadium where they won it all—at least after the final whistle on Saturday. “Just great memories,” Drew tells Burgundy Wave thinking back on that team. “I’m happy to call them my friends. I haven’t seen those guys in a long time, so it’ll be good to see them and reconnect a little bit. You always want to beat your buddies when you’re playing against them, but they’ve done extremely well. From a personal standpoint, I can’t wait to hug them and see how they’re all doing.”

“That was certainly a prime in my career, I would say where I was playing well, I was growing a lot. Gary was a huge part of my career; winning a Championship is always special, but even more than that is the relationships I developed with him and Steve, obviously Matt and Kosuke.”

The veteran Colorado Rapids defender, now in his 10th season in Colorado and 18th in MLS, is a prime example of what a veteran leader can be regardless of how many minutes he sees or doesn’t see in matches. For his part, Drew has seen a lot of both, featuring in over 430 total matches including playoffs and over 17,000 minutes in MLS.

They seem like just numbers in print, but to think of them over a career and the fact that only a handful of players can touch those numbers it’s an even more impressive feat. Although, to Drew, it means something a little different. “I look at those numbers and think I feel very blessed and fortunate and lucky that I’ve played for some good organizations, for some amazing coaches, with some great teammates, great fan bases, and people that have believed in me.”

In exactly the humble, gracious way you’d expect from Moor, he continues, “I’ve dedicated everything I have to being a good professional and playing in so many games. Hopefully, some other players look at that and feel like they’ll want to do the same things.”

That responsibility is never really required, or even asked of Drew; however, it’s one he feels willing and able to take on by something as simple as the way he goes about his own business. “I have a lot of jobs here, but my number one job is to be the best center back I can be….try to win a starting spot, try to perform at a high level, and help the team in that way.”

“If you’re not a good example on the field playing – with the work you put in, the concentration you put it, trying to compete and win starting spots regardless of what the starting team is – you’ve already not been a great example for the young guys. From there, be a good teammate, be a voice, be somebody who can help not just the young guys, but the older guys as well, but absolutely be the best center back I can possibly be.”

Drew has said it before and he’ll say it again—MLS is a grind. However, he loves his job, he loves putting in the work, and he loves the satisfaction he gets from that. “I have a long list of people to thank, but I continue to be motivated every day to do my best and improve. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something or try to improve on my own. It’s a game that changes, a group that changes, and it will keep you on your toes.”

“I do come in here every day with a smile, but it doesn’t mean I’m feeling great every day; sometimes you have to fake it,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “That positive energy can be contagious, and it can spread throughout the group at all times of the season.“

You have to think that will, in some large part, be missed when Moor decides to call an end to the grind of MLS and his playing career. Don’t expect any retirement tour just yet, though, as even he doesn’t really know what lies ahead of the next match.

“If I think about what’s next after my playing career, I immediately start to miss being a player. That doesn’t mean I won’t look forward to moving into what’s next when the time comes, but while I’m doing this, I want to give it everything I’ve got. You only have one career really. While I’m playing I have to be sure that when I do finish, I have to be proud of everything I put into it.”

“I’ve made no decision on my career,” Moor admits. “I’m just taking it one day at a time, I have been for a couple of years now. I think there are more days behind me than in front of me in my career so you have to enjoy it.”

“I still put pressure on myself for sure, but I’ve let some of the little things go that I know I can’t control and that’s just something you learn over a career. It’s a microcosm for everybody’s life – you can’t control everything – so you’ve got to enjoy the things you can. I try to pick and choose the right times to let some things go that maybe my younger self wouldn’t have, whether that’s blasting a referee, blasting a teammate on the field, whatever it is,” Moor tells fans, sounding like the Dad he proudly is.

As far as the current Rapids and their fight in 2022, Drew is not surprised at the way the team has come through a very difficult period in the last two weeks, with a congested schedule, weird travel adjustments, and very difficult opponents.

“This team always handles everything well, including a bit of adversity with a busy schedule. This team has incredible character from the individuals to the group. I feel like Robin and the staff, all the way up to Padraig, have done such a good job of bringing in people that can battle adversity.”

“The concentration hasn’t dropped,” Drew reassures fans. “We’re coming into a little bit of a break, which I think will be good for us both physically and mentally. I don’t always like breaks, but you’ve got to take advantage of it, get away from it for a couple of days if you can because it’s a long season.”

Before that break, however, there’s some business to attend to in welcoming back old friends while trying to extend Colorado’s home unbeaten streak to 24 matches on Saturday.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending