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Game 7: My Clavical Hurts

Cuesta and Cummings
Cuesta and Cummings

I have nothing for you other than a promise I will get this done before the afternoon of the next game.

Anyways here you go for you reading enjoyment a break down of a rather ho hum 1-1 draw.

Weather: 46 degrees, partly cloudy.  
Surface:  Natural Grass
Location: Stadium somewhere in Colorado
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Line Judges: Anthony Vasoli, Darren Clark
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Attendance: 11,789

Matchday Live announce crew: 
Colorado Announcers


Coach: Carlos de los Cobos
GK: Jon Conway
D: Jalil Anibaba
D: Yamith Cuesta
D: Josip Mikulic
D: Gonzalo Segares
M: Daniel Paladini
M: Corben Bone
M: Dominic Oduro
M: Marco Pappa
M: Gaston Puerari
F: Diego Chaves

GK: Sean Johnson
M: Baggio Husidic
M: Bratislav Ristic
M: Patrick Nyarko
F: Orr Barouch
D: Dasan Robinson
D: Pari Pantazopoulos

Changes from last week:  Paladini and Bone replace Pause (out with injury) and Husidic in the center of the midfield.  Oduro earns another start this time starting in place of Nyarko.  Puerari gets a start in the midfield as well.  Still that is a lot of striking talent from the midfield positions. 

Coach: Gary Smith
GK: Matt Pickens
D: Kosuke Kimura
D: Tyrone Marshall
D: Drew Moor
D: Anthony Wallace
M: Sanna Nyassi
M: Jeff Larentowicz
M: Pablo Mastroeni
M: Jamie Smith
F: Andre Akpan
F: Omar Cummings

GK: Steward Ceus
M: Ross LaBauex
D: Danny Earls
D: Mike Holody
M: Josh Janniere
M: Joseph Nane
D: Scott Palguta


  1. Goal Kick for Conway.  Chaves commits a foul in the offensive end.
  2. Cuesta covers Cummings and puts the ball out of bounds.  Corner conceded by Pappa.
  3. Oduro ends up clearing the corner after it bounces around for a while.
  4. Akpan puts a terrific ball right across the mouth of the goal but no Colorado player was making a run. 
  5. The Fire absorbing pressure well so far.  Corner conceded by Mikulic off a cross into the box.  Solid defending. Again Oduro clears the ball of the corner.
  6. Replay indicates Cuesta's hand may have hit the ball, hard to tell even off of slow motion. 
  7. Fire have some possession and then Sega dumps the ball long to no one.  That decision needs to be better.
  8. Lots of arguing from the Colorado bench over a non call that had no impact. 
  9. Fire gain the ball in the midfield Puerari dumps the ball long to Oduro on the right hand wing, Oduro dribbles towards the box and makes a good pass to Puerari in the box who has the ball cleared off his 1st touch.  A bit heavy first touch from Puerari.  Colorado immediately counter but Cuesta and Sega delay Akpan long enough for Paladini to come in and deflect the ball off of Akpan for a Goal Kick.
  10. Bone with some nifty foot work in the middle combining with Chaves who links with Puerari back to Chaves and then out to Oduro on the wing that ends up in a Fire throw in.
  11. Paladini has his cross attempt block that allows Cummings to come flying down the left hand side Paladini hustles back and ends up conceding a corner.  Good defensive work from the back line and Paladini there.
  12. Ensuing corner is cleared by the Fire.  Colorado holds possession but mostly in their end.
  13. Colorado continues to control the ball in their back end.  Mastroeni dribbles the ball up towards the middle and makes a nice pass between Bone and Paladini to Cummings who nearly gets a through ball to Akpan but Mikulic gets a touch on it to break it up.  Bone and Paladini need to be better there.
  14. Fire win the ball. Sega passes to Chaves in the offensive half who then send the ball to Puerari who slots it to Sega who is in on goal but puts his shot wide. Excellent run from Sega there but he just puts his shot wide.  Eventually Sega is going to score off that run as he has consistently been getting behind his defender the past few weeks.  Good work from all involved.  Balboa applauding Chaves for the pass when it was fro Puerari, hey they are both Uruguayan.  Nyassi makes a good run but Cuesta ably defends the situation and dispossesses Nyassi of the ball easily.
  15. Nyassi down and the Fire put the ball out of bounds.
  16. Nyassi down for most of this.
  17. Long ball to Chaves who ends up track it down and winning possession, Chaves makes a great pass to Pappa who unfortunately lets the ball go out of bounds as his first touch is not strong enough to keep it inbounds.  Missed opportunity there.
  18. Fire with a nice spell of possession, Puerari to Oduro who goes to Bone who passes to Chaves who gets it to Pappa at the top of the box who takes a shot that is right at Matt Pickens.  Bone made a nice run at the end there to clear some space for Pappa.  Again nice work from all involved.
  19. Chaves fouls Marshall with a foot to his face.
  20. Anibaba wins the ball and then boots it off a Colorado player to win a throw in for the Fire. 
  21. Akpan gets through and Cuesta with a shoulder to shoulder challenge in the box ably defends the ball.  No call from the Ref and frankly I don't think there should have been.  Slow motion shows Cuesta bit behind Akpan but not by much.  Free kick for Colorado.
  22. Conway grabs the free kick with no problems.  Colorado wins possession and Akpan gets the ball he tries to back heel it to but misses everyone.
  23. Paladini collects the ball off an errant header just inside the circle on the offensive side, passes it to Pappa who makes a quick pass to Bone.  Bone finds Chaves.  Chaves moves forward and passes to Oduro on the right hand side.  Oduro dribbles into the right hand corner at the top of the box and puts a strong low shot wide.   Good decision from Oduro here as he had only one player in the box to pass and he looked to be covered by three Colorado defenders.
  24. Free kick for Colorado as Mikulic fouls Akpan.  Oduro with some GAMESMANSHIP as he kicks the free kick ball backwards as if to say "the ball should be back there".
  25. Long shot off the boot of Larentowicz that Conway dives to his right hand side and pushes over the goal line for a corner.
  26. Ensuing corner is hit long and the Fire push the ball back to the Rapids defense.  Paladini makes a nice pass on the volley towards Pappa who looks to be clear but is hammered by Tyrone Marshall.  The replay shows that Pappa just ran directly into Marshall.  I believe this is what we call creating contact.  Yellow card shown to Marshall.  A bit harsh after looking at the replay, real time it looked legit.
  27. Ensuing free kick taken by Marco who passes it to Sega on the outside of the box who puts the cross in.  Mikulic heading towards goal but he never makes a play on the ball as he starts to fall down before Pickens grabs the ball.  Then Pickens falls on Mikulic.  Pickens screaming at his defense after that play.  Mikulic stays down.  Looks like he was trying to avoid contact and then got fallen on.
  28. Mikulic is up but grabbing his shoulder.
  29. Nyassi offsides.
  30. Puerari wins the ball after a long free kick from Conway.  Hustles the ball down in the corner tries to link with Pappa but the ball is defended away, Puerari wins the ball and then is hit by Nyassi and we have a little bit of pushing and arguing. Emotion!  Yay!
  31. Cummings gets a nice ball from Nyassi as he was making a run towards the box, Cuesta is there with him but Cummings blasts a shot on frame towards the upper ninety but Conway is there and pushes it aside for a corner.  Corner ends up in nothing.  Mikulic is down again.  He is in some serious pain right now.
  32. Oduro back on defense puts the ball out of bounds for a Rapids throw in. 
  33. Mikulic re enters play.  He is trying not to move the arm.  Looks to be buying time for his sub.
  35. Fire ably absorbing pressure again.  This time they gain some possession off of it.
  36. Puerari gets the ball dumps it wide right for Oduro, Oduro puts in a cross that is ably defended, Bone tripped up play on is call and Anibaba blasts a shot well above the bar.  Dasan Robinson is getting ready to check into the game for Mikulic. 
  37. Good effort from Mikulic to buy time for Old Man Robinson to warm up.
  38. Marshall with long ball to Akpan which the Fire defense eventually gobble up.
  39. Colorado regain possession get the ball down the right hand side a cross comes in and Paladini ably heads it away inside the box, Kimura fouls Cuesta on the ensuing chase for the ball.
  40. Dangerous opportunity for the Fire but the ball comes off of Marco's arm in the box, Pickens saved the Chaves shot anyways but unfortunate break for the Fire.
  41. Game opening up a bit here with the insertion of Robinson and I don't mean that in a good way.  Colorado are looking to exploit him down the middle.  Fire on the break, Chaves and Puerari have a misconnection (!) as Puerari does not make the run Chaves is expecting.
  43. Fire win the ball in the midfield, dumps back to Paladini who gets it to Puerari who gets it to Oduro on the right hand side.  Oduro puts in a nice pass to Pappa who puts the shot in the back of the net!  Goal Fire.  1-0 Fire.  The genesis of this play was Chaves controlling the ball on the midfield line when surrounded by three Colorado defenders.  He escapes that pressure and gets the ball back to Paladini.  Paladini makes a quick pass to Puerari who is asking for the ball (please note if this was Mike Videira this pass would either A. not have been made or B. not been accurate).  At this point Puerari passes to Anibaba who immediately gives it back to Puerari, then he makes the excellent pass that goes over the head of Oduro's defender to get to him.  Oduro does the rest as he makes an excellent pass. Marco was there and had a nice finish but Oduro really made the key pass.  Still this goal was  a team effort as 6 guys were involved in the making of it.
  45. Three minutes of stoppage time.  Akpan gets a pass in the middle of the box but can't control it.  Cuesta was in good position to do something about it if he did.  Pappa makes a nice run tries to dribble through a bunch of Colorado players and then takes a half hearted dive in the box.  On the Blanco scale that dive earns a 3 out of 10.  Ref conference!  Matt Pickens was busy lobbying the line judge, head referee waives the ball back.  Looks like the ball was out of bounds and Moor eats a yellow card for something.  I have no idea why he got that but thanks Matt Pickens for lobbying for that yellow!  Fire with a free kick.  Paladini looking to take it just dumps it short to Pappa.  Oduro gets the ball on the right hand side fancy footworks around puts it back to Puerari and the Ref blows the whistle to indicate the end of the first half. 

For the people that want to play possession soccer I've got news for you this first half might as well be the template for how the Fire want to play.  Absorb pressure and counter attack with pace on the wings and up the middle.  Colorado really didn't have what one would call a great chance in the first half.  They had some nice half chances but the defense was resolute and usually had a man in good position.  Bone and Paladini acquitted themselves decently in that half.  Turnovers were down significantly and I think that can be attributed to both of those players being solid passers who make above average decisions with the ball.  Defensively they were out of position a few times but with both of these guys earning their first start of the season things went better than could have been hoped for that half.  Ok time for the second half.

  46. Paladini with some nice work to find Anibaba open on the right hand side.  Anibaba combines with Paladini who almost links up with Bone but a sliding tackle from Colorado breaks it up.  Nice linking play there.
  47. Quick accurate passing from the Fire down the left hand sidelines (mostly between Pappa and Chaves) releases the pressure.  While this play didn't result in an attack it forced Colorado back and allowed the team to regroup into its defensive shell.
  48. Nyassi fouled, free kick given.  Advantage played should have been given.  Sega picks up a yellow for a late challenge on Nyassi.  Completely deserved.
  49. Paladini with a nice pass that goes off the heel of Oduro.  Unfortunate there as that was nice.  Unfortunately this leads to Colorado possession.  Cummings with the ball on the right hand wing, Bone almost wins the ball back for the Fire after Sega pokes the ball away but unfortunately the ball goes right back to Cummings. Paladini and Sega close on Cummings, Cummings makes a good pass to a wide open Akpan who rips a shot past Conway for a goal. 1-1.  Defensive miscommunication here as Cuesta pushed out wide to cover a potential run by Cummings and Robinson did not move towards that man and stayed with his man.  Anibaba was behind Robinson and could have pushed over to take Robinson's guy.  This goal looks to be on Cuesta as he got out of position but could have been an issue of playing next to Robinson in the middle as Mikulic might have normally pushed towards the open player as Cuesta covered the run of the Cummings who is good at that kind of thing.  Still Cuesta has to be smarter in that position and mark the man.  Great shot by Akpan who made the most of the opportunity.
  52. not much happening here.  Paladini has pushed up a bit but I don't expect to see the Fire push forward as they don't want to concede another goal.  Throw in for the Fire.
  53. Paladini with a pass towards Chaves who is unable to control it.  Chaves gets the ball off a throw in and gets it over to Oduro.  Oduro hits an off balance shot into the side netting.  Could have tried to cross it but he has an excellent shot and he had guys in position for a rebound put back.
  54. free kick for Colorado
  55. Ensuing free kick shakily pushed away by Conway.  Great ball put in towards goal Conway used his stomach to move the ball away.  Jamie Smith ends up getting the ball and puts a shot towards goal that is grabbed by Conway as he dives low to his right.
  56. Paladini given a yellow for an elbow to the head of Jamie Smith.  Might be a bit harsh but the league needs to clamp down on the elbows to the head in this type of situation.
  57. Colorado gets the ball Cummings with a through ball that Nyassi chases down by the goal line.  Nyassi puts a cross/shot in front of the goal, Conway flaps at it, bounces off the legs of Dasan and Anibaba clears.  On the replay Nyassi was trying to find Akpan.  His pass would have been behind Akpan but it forced the Fire defense into action.  A bit panicky but it got the job done.
  59. Akpan in again on goal but Robinson is there to poke the ball away.  Ends up in a throw in which then ends up in a free kick outside the box ten yards out from the corner spot. 
  60. Fire clear the ensuing free kick away.  Nyassi offsides Fire free kick.
  61. Oduro wins the bal in the middle of the field links with Bone who goes to Paladini who links with Sega who works a quick one two with Pappa and tries to get the ball back but Nyassi gets in the way and Sega pushes him and Nyassi goes to ground to earn the free kick.
  63. Goal kick for Colorado. 
  64. Paladini gets the ball from Anibaba makes an accurate pass to Puerari who then makes a pass towards Oduro a bit late as Oduro is a good yard offside.  Bone tracks back defensively and breaks up the play in the Fire defensive end.  Good work from Corben. 
  65. Goal kick for Colorado.  Neither team really wants to press forward.  Colorado looks happy that they managed to score and the Fire look content to get out of Colorado with a point.
  66. Paladini to Puerari who gets fouled by Mastroeni.  Free kick for the Fire.
  67. Paladini to take the free kick puts it right off the wall but able stops what could have been a counter and keeps the ball in the defensive end.  Would have liked to have seen something better from Paladini there.  Oduro ends up getting the ball on the wing and tries another off balance cross to no avail.  Goal Kick Colorado.
  68. Anibaba physically defends Cummings and forces him into a bad shot after an advantage is questionably given by the ref. 
  69. Both teams look like they want this game to be over.  Puerari and Oduro link up again and Oduro earns a throw in deep in the offensive end.  Paladini controls the throw in and combines with Robinson to hold possession.  Robinson goes to Pappa who makes a nice pass onto the chest of Chaves who can't control the ball and Marshall clears it for a corner.
  70. Pappa takes the ensuing corner.  1st corner of the game for the Fire.  Corner cleared out to Bone who makes a nice dribble to get himself free to take a shot that ends up high and wide.  Good thought by Bone there.
  71. Paladini is much more involved this half than the first half making nice passes and helping to control the ball.  This time he links up with Puerari who then passes to Bone who is just crossing the center line.  Bone finds Chaves wide open with Pappa sprinting in on his left with Puerari and Oduro on his right.  For whatever reason Chaves decides to shoot and puts it high and wide.  Golden opportunity wasted right there as the Fire had numbers.  One would expect Chaves to make the simple through pass to either Pappa or Puerari.  Bad decision.  Chaves has had a quiet second half.  Probably should be subbed off.  Goal kick for Colorado.  The replay shows Chaves did have an excellent shooting lane and he just blasted the shot wide.  One would expect him to be better there all the way around.
  72. Week foul called on Cuesta free kick given in the Fire's defensive third.  Akpan ends up getting his head to the service from the free kick but he had been put off balance by Sega and was unable to snap his header down.  Defense was adequate but could have been better.  Mikulic is missed. obviously.
  73. Oduro combines with Chaves and a through ball almost finds its way to Puerari but Moor is there to slow down Gaston and get the ball.  Pass was underweighted just slightly and Moor made a good play.
  74. Orr Barouch on for Corben Bone.  On second watch Corben had a much better game than I initially thought.  I would expect him to be in the mix to start next game.  Definitely on the bench.  He made a case for more playing time.
  76. Cummings bursts past Dasan Robinson in the middle of the field and runs towards goal with the ball.  Cuesta is there to disrupt him and he ends up putting a weak shot on goal.  Nice coverage by Cuesta but the Fire were lucky that Cummings is not on form right now.
  77. Oduro earns free kick stays down grabbing his ankle.  Ensuing free kick ends up with a throw in.  Puerari earns a free kick after linking up with Pappa off the throw in.
  78. Puerari takes the ensuing free kick and puts a great shot on goal that forces a one handed jumping save from Pickens. Puerari took advantage of the quick whistle to initiate the free kick and a slow to set up wall there.  Smart play.  Corner for the Fire.  Good service on the corner headed away by Colorado.  Colorado clears and takes possession. 
  80. Chicago has been looking sprightly these last 10 minutes.  I worry about Dasan holding down things in the middle but Chicago looks more likely to score a goal.  Still the team might turtle up a bit as getting a point on the road is completely acceptable.
  82. Chaves trying to track down a long ball but can't get on the end of it.  The wind has appeared to pick up here late in the second half. 
  83. Looks like the Ref is going to call the final 10 minutes a bit differently.  He isn't giving the touch fouls in the middle any more.  Which is to bad as he has called a consistent game for the last 80 minutes.  Paladini fouls Smith from behind.
  84. Ensuing free kick about 15 yards from the top of the circle.  Larentowicz blasts the ball into the wall.  Chaves unable to track down the long ball.
  85. Free kick earned by Pappa who was taken down uh yeah taken down by Marshall.  Blanco is beaming somewhere. That was excellently down by Marco.
  86. Puerari links with Chaves who makes an amazing move to hook the ball with his back foot to bring it to the front.  He then blasts a shot high and wide of the goal.
  87. Anibaba breaks up a possible free shot on goal by Larentowicz.  Excellent play by Jalil.  good awareness.
  88. Paladini wins the ball controls and then makes a good pass to Anibaba who is free on the right hand side.
  89. Nyassi subbed off for Ross LaBauex.  Fire end up conceding another corner here.
  90. Patrick Nyarko on for Gaston Puerari.  Ensuing corner finds Drew Moor at the far post who heads the ball down and wide of the goal.  Stoppage time will be 2 minutes.
  91. Goal kick for Colorado.
  92. Chaves gets the ball in the middle of the field Nyarko gets the ball inks with Paladini who links back up with Nyarko who gets the ball to Anibaba on the wing who makes a good cross that goes just behind Chaves.  Fire maintain possession.  Pappa tries to put the ball back in the box but his pass is short.  Sega regains control and links with Pappa who tries to make a difficult pass to Chaves who ca't control the ball and Colorado gets the ball.  Final whistle blows.

I have zero issues with this result.  The Fire put themselves into position to win on the road against the defending MLS champs.  A defensive mishap allowed the tie but overall the team played well.  Minimized mistakes in the middle of the field and found out that they have some guys who can contribute on a regular basis.  Bone and Paladini acquitted themselves well.  I thought Paladini was the better of the two as his passing and control in the defensive end was much better than what we have seem from Videira or even Husidic.  His passing is better than that of Pause but he isn't nearly as physical.  Still he is faster than Videira and Husidic and is excellent on the ball.  If the team decides to play two defensive midfielders I'd like to see Paladini next to Pause.  Bone made good runs and linked well with the midfielders around him.  Easily his best performance as a pro.  Outside of his positioning on the goal Cuesta was good again.  Covered well for midfield defensive breakdowns, was almost always in the correct position and played physical but not out of control.  I think the defensive lapse was more a miscommunication between Cuesta and Robinson that led to the goal instead of Cuesta and Segares. 

Dasan was again an issue in this game but due to solid control and lack of turnovers from the midfield tonight it wasn't as noticeable.  I would like the team to find a serviceable center back to replace Robinson.  Perhaps a trade during the season for a veteran MLS defender who can step in and at least provide a better level of play than Dasan.  This is much harder said than done of course but Robinson can't continue to be the guy to go to on the bench.  This team is going to need four solid central defenders and right now it doesn't have them.  Perhaps when Kinney is healthy he or Anibaba will slide over.  Or maybe Kwame can play himself into form in the reserve games. 

Anibaba quietly had a very good game. He clamped down on his side and was physical when he needed to be.  He is growing into his role.  I feel his has worked through many of his early season difficulties.  I'm sure we will still see the occasional rookie mistake but this performance indicates that he can be effective for this team as the season goes on.

This game is one that is encouraging.  The injury to Mikulic is going to be a problem but as long as Gibbs is ready for the game against Vancouver (and it looks like he is) then it isn't nearly as big of an issue as Cuesta is an able backup at this point.  This felt like a very business like draw.  Lets go to Colorado and get a result.  If the team can beat Vancouver at home suddenly its unbeaten in three games and things are looking up.  The pieces are there to be a good MLS side its just making them all fit together that is the challenge.