I caught up with Chris of the Denver Regional here at SBN and of Burgundy Wave to chat about the Rapids a little bit. Here are the Three Questions that every Sounders fan should know the answer to before the game.
Dave Clark: Last year the Rapids had a high powered offense, then in the offseason one would think that they got a little better, but that hasn't been the case. What is holding the Rapids offense back?
UZ: Honestly, it's all Conor Casey's sudden inability to score. Conor Casey's ESPY-nomination-good year in 2009 was filled with him making great plays and finishing what he started on almost every play, and the Rapids high powered offense basically rested completely on his foot. His finishing has been abysmal this year - check out his horrible miss from last week - and just like last season where the offense was carried by Conor, it's being well held back by his finishing this season. Something that already has helped the offense is the return of Claudio Lopez from injury, as well as coach Gary Smith's changing of the formation to accommodate more attackers going forward. I'd say that the offense is due for at least a minor resurgence in the coming weeks.
DC: You've written about the Rapids defense being prone to a single mistake, and this seems even more evident when looking at their stats. They give up a goal a game. That isn't a bad number, but in 8 matches they've given up 1 goal. If the opposing team can put up two can Colorado still get a win?
UZ: Actually if the other team scores two, judging on the Rapids season thus far the game would most likely end in a draw. Every game that the opposition has scored two in has resulted in a "comeback" tie game for the Rapids, most recently against Houston. I actually think it matters more if the Rapids score at all, to throw out a random statistic the Rapids have yet to lose a game that they've scored in this season. Add the Rapids sad affinity for 1-0 losses - every loss this year has been by that score - and we might be at the point where I'd be RELIEVED that the other team got two.
DC: Ciaran O'Brien has been out injured much of the year. But when healthy he didn't play much and the Rapids have added veterans with similar skill sets. Do you expect he'll be back with Colorado in 2011?
UZ: I lost hope for Ciaran a while ago. I've always thought that him getting sent off on a red card in the 90th minute of his first ever MLS appearance was incredibly fitting for how the rest of his career would go, so far anyway. His few appearances for MLS teams including your Sounders since he was drafted haven't yielded much of anything showing he was worth pick #5 in the 2008 draft, it took a loan to the Montreal Impact to finally draw a goal out of him. With better options for scoring midfielders available all over the league I can't see him lasting that much longer as a Rapid.
I had to ask about the local kid who played with the USL Sounders in their final season. Back then Ciaran looked like he could be a CAM, or other attacking mid.