Rapids sink last-place Red Bulls
Four players scored as the Colorado Rapids poured water on a drowning team, dousing the New York Red Bulls 4-0 on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Jacob Peterson, Pat Noonan, Nick LaBrocca and Mehdi Ballouchy registered goals in the Rapids’ biggest victory of the season, a washout of the last-place Red Bulls.
How bad is it for the Red Bulls this year?
Since winning the first conference championship in franchise history in 2008, they’ve fallen to 2-15-4 in 2009. They haven’t won in more than two months. They’ve lost 12 consecutive Major League Soccer matches. They’ve lost 24 straight on the road (an MLS record). They’ve allowed a league-worst 37 goals. They’ve given up 21 more goals than they’ve scored (the worst goal differential in the league). They are in danger of setting a new mark for fewest goals in a single campaign. And they have a chance to set the bar for the worst season in MLS history.
In 2001, the Tampa Bay Mutiny finished 4-21-4. With nine games remaining, the Red Bulls have charted a course for monumental ineptitude.
Things started to go bad two minutes into Saturday’s game for the Red Bulls. Rapids defender Ugo Ihemelu sent a ball over the top to striker Omar Cummings, who held off his mark then separated quickly. In a perfect position to shoot, Cummings opted to center the ball to Jacob Peterson. He banged the ball past former Rapids goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, putting New York in a hole from the get-go.
But, despite all the adversity, New York played a tough first half. Juan Pablo Angel shaved the top corner of the Rapids goal in the 10th minute. Macoumba Kandji forced Rapids keeper Matt Pickens into a big save in the 19th minute. The Red Bulls also hit the post in the first half and tested Pickens on other occasions, too.
“They might be struggling, but they’ve got a lot of fight on their team,” Rapids striker Pat Noonan said. “We got the early goal, which allowed us to open the game up and set the tone, but they kept battling.”
Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s ejection in first-half stoppage time, however, took a lot of fight out of the team. Referee Jasen Anno showed Ubiparipovic the red card for his tackle on Scott Palguta, who was making a clearance in the Rapids’ defensive third. Ubiparipovic came in from behind with studs up.
“It was unfortunate that that decision changed the whole game,” New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. “The idea was not to concede an early goal, but it’s very difficult to play with 10 on this big field.”
The red card meant the Red Bulls would have to chase the game with only 10 men. And, once again, it took only a couple of minutes at the beginning of the half for things to deteriorate.
Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni pierced the heart of the Red Bulls’ defense with a saucy vertical pass that drew Noonan behind the New York back line. There, Noonan slotted the ball past Coundoul.
“Once they got the red card, we got the early goal and we kind of put the game away,” striker Pat Noonan said. “You can’t expect that the game’s going to be given to you even if you’re up a goal or they’re down a man. They kept battling, but we put them away when we needed to.”
LaBrocca’s goal shortly after the hour mark erased any doubt of the outcome. Coundoul made a big save on a shot by Ballouchy, but the Senegalese international left a big, sloppy rebound, which LaBrocca cleaned up nicely.
Then a little more than five minutes later, Noonan drew a foul outside the New York penalty area. Ballouchy took the free kick on the left side of the field, hit it over the wall, past Coundoul’s outstretched arms and into the netting on the right side of the goal.
So Saturday’s loss leaves the SS NYRB listing badly and taking on water. If the team doesn’t right the ship soon, they may be in line for a Mutiny.
BAUDET INJURED: The Rapids lost Julien Baudet in the 33rd minute. He jumped high to play a bounding ball entering the penalty area and collided in midair with Ubiparipovic. When Baudet came down, he put out his left arm to land and appeared to break his forearm or wrist. It looked nasty on the scoreboard replay, like Redskins quarterback Joe Thiesmann’s broken leg in 1985.
MAN OF THE MATCH: It’s a difficult decision because of strong contributions from all quarters of the Rapids’ lineup. I’ll go with Noonan, who seemed to find his legs after joining the Rapids in mid-June. He admitted after his first game that he wasn’t ready for the altitude. But on Saturday he worked hard and looked good in 78 minutes of play. “Feeling better, lungs getting comfortable,” Noonan said.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: In the 41st minute, Coundoul mishandled a cross. The ball dropped for Ballouchy, who fired it in under Coundoul’s left arm. But former Rapids defender Mike Petke headed the ball away and saved a goal.
AZUL SHOE DIARIES: Juan Pablo Angel and Khano Smith got the “blue boots” memo.
WITH APOLOGIES TO DR. EVIL: There really is nothing like a shorn Kosuke Kimura. … It’s breathtaking – I highly suggest you try it. Yes, the Rapids defender went under the razor (as diid WeWantRapidman’s Nick, by the way).
NEW STRIKER DEBUTS: Argentine Facundo Diz replaced Pat Noonan in the 78th minute. Diz wears his shorts long and his socks high. What’s he hidin’?
WEATHER MATTERS: It rained on the way to the game. It rained on the way home. But despite a sky full of clouds when the match began, it rained only a few minutes in the first half.
THE BEST 25TH OF JULY FIREWORKS SHOW EVER: Now THAT was a fireworks show. A total of 16,816 folks inside the stadium gave the Rapids a mulligan after the July 4 fireworks sputtered because of technical problems. Saturday’s rescheduled display was beautiful against the backdrop of low, stormy clouds. And the Dick’s crowd weren’t the only ones to enjoy. Commerce City residents were out in force, all along Quebec Street. And that finale was impressive!
MISSING, NOT IN ACTION: Rapids striker Conor Casey missed the game because of yellow-card accumulation. That means he’ll be all rested up for Wednesday’s All-Star Game in Utah! The Rapids had lost Ugo Ihemelu and Cory Gibbs to caution suspension recently, but they were both in the lineup on Saturday. Midfielder Colin Clark was still with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup.
RAPIDS STARTERS: Pickens; Ihemelu, Baudet, Gibbs, Harvey; Peterson, Ballouchy, Mastroeni, LaBrocca; Cummings, Noonan
RED BULLS STARTERS: Coundoul, Pacheco, Petke, Krupnick, Hall, Sassano, Rojas, Ubiparipovic, Kandji, Richards, Angel
George Tanner is a former writer and editor for the Rocky Mountain News; the Greeley Tribune; The Daily Independent of Ridgecrest, Calif.; the Durango Herald; and the Boulder Daily Camera. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and an associate professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. E-mail him at ColoradoSoccerNow@gmail.com.
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