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Tactical Preview: Fire vs Colorado

Marco Pappa will look to improve on his good first half performance against Philly last week.
Marco Pappa will look to improve on his good first half performance against Philly last week.

Dom Oduro vs Drew Moor

Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne have formed a good partnership at the heart of the Colorado defense over the past few years but the New York game last week exposed one major weakness, namely Drew Moor’s pace. Moor was caught out a number of times against New York especially against Kenny Cooper for NYRB’s second goal. If the Fire can get Oduro in a 1v1 situation against Moor, I like our chances. Moor has constantly relied on the speed of his partner Wynne to get him out of trouble but as NY showed us last week, if the Fire can turn the ball over in Colorado’s half it could lead to some good situations. As I said last week, creating space for Grazzini is key for the Fire’s success this season and he is the kind of player who can create a 1v1 situations for Dom.

Fire vs Colorado’s New Midfield

Last week, the New York Red Bulls were lucky enough to catch Colorado without defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, its new creative midfielder, Martin Rivero and captain Paulo Mastroeni. Both Rivero and Larentowicz should start against the Fire with the latter presenting an unknown challenge. New York was able to penetrate Colorado’s makeshift midfield much too easily and I expect that to be addressed for this week’s game. Against New York, every attack started with Colombian midfielder Jaime Castrillon who constantly dropped deep to collect the ball from the defenders. I expect him to retain his place with Thompson and LaBauex making way for Rivero and Larentowicz. The Fire will be the first team to face Rivero and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adjusts to the MLS. Logan Pause and Pavel Pardo will be in for a tough time against Colorado’s midfield trio and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Fire switch formations to deal with this - see below.

Fire’s attack – Go Wide or Down the Middle?

The big question for the Fire against Colorado is do they pack the midfield or try to play the same tactics as they did against Montreal and Philly? New York had no luck going down the outside against Colorado and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Fire packed the midfield against the Rapids especially to give a helping hand to Pause and Pardo who will be up against Castrillon, Larentowicz and Rivero who will look to push forward and support Omar Cummings who was extremely isolated against NY. If the Fire make this change, Paladini or Roboyo should start in place of Pappa who showed signs of improvement last week but is a liability defensively. Packing the midfield would also put even more emphasis on defenders Gonzalo Segares and Dan Gargan to get forward from the outside back positions, as they have done in the previous two matches. New York had great success going down the middle against the Colorado B midfield but I doubt there will be as much room this time. All in all it’s a very tough call for coach Frank Klopas but it does present a perfect opportunity for him to switch his tactics completely mid-game, something that he has been reluctant to do so far.

Dan Gargan vs Rapids Rookie Tony Cascio

A big bright spot for the Rapids this season has been the form of rookie Tony Cascio. The left midfielder has started all 3 games this season and looked very good against NY last week. He possess speed, skill and a wickedly powerful shot. It will be very interesting to see how Dan Gargan matches up against Cascio, especially considering that the Gargoyle has been very active in the attack this season. Playing Nyarko or Pause wide right would be a safe option considering their defensive prowess. It appeared that Gargan picked up a knock against Philly and he has been doing only light training this week so perhaps we will see Logan Pause replace him on the back line if he is unable to go. Either way, Cascio will pose a big threat to the Fire on Sunday.