06 April 2007

Match Briefing for 12.01: At Colorado Rapids

Match #: 12.01

Colorado Rapids
0pts, 0GF, 0GA, 0GD
1st place (tie) Western Conference
1st place (tie) MLS

Six Word Novel Preview: The season starts. Bring it on.

TV: ABC, 3:30PM (ET)

Radio: WMET 1160AM

Previous Meeting: First meeting of season

The Stakes: Colorado wants to prove it can win without Joe Canon. That could be tough, but their defense does feature former United payers Mike Petke and Brandon Prideaux. Colorado would require both to have better than career average years to have a shot at the Western Conference. Still, the plan for Colorado will remain the same: Slip into the playoffs, knock off a higher seed, and see what happens. Winning in their new park against a good team would make for a great debut.

For United, the actual season starts. United stumbled against New York in the opener last year, but this team has undergone a few games to get into form. They've been training at altitude for most of the past two weeks, so Colorado's typical oxygen advantage may be somewhat diluted. Given Fernando Clavijo's style, I wouldn't be surprised to see a clogged midfield with physical, slogging marking that could neatly preview the how other teams gameplan DCU the rest of the season.

Previews from the DCUniverse: QuarterVolley

The DCenter Team's Location: D - Most likely at home. Kinney - TBD. Oscar - TBD.

Expectations: With the way United has played so far, three points on the road should be expected. A draw or loss is a disappointment. High expectations for the first game in a road environment where United is not known for getting points, but with almost everyone picking DCU to finish at the top of the East, high expectations are something they must be used to by now.

What to look for? Colorado's keeping situation is supposedly in flux, but regardless that will be a focus for the upcoming season. I expect that the Colorado defense will give up at least a few chances, and seeing how the keeper responds will be interesting.

For DC, look for signs of a hangover from Guadalajara. Can the Colorado midfield and defense neutralize Gomez, Moreno, and Emilio? Is the passing continuing to get sharper? Can someone please learn that clearing the ball to Row Z (as in Zed) is not a bad idea when compared to turning it over 35m from goal? Also, given that Gros is out with a concussion, the depth on the wing which was problematic even preseason now becomes a larger concern. Does Fred get his first start? Or DeRoux?

Finally, I fully expect Colorado to attack the 3-5-2 similarly to Chivas, with balls over the top into space. How well will Erpen and Namoff, and whomever is on the wing handle their defensive responsibilities to limit this attack?

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