Looking back on Colorado’s season opening win against Columbus, I can’t help but smile. What a match! The Rapids played a markedly different style of football than fans are used to seeing, and it paid off with the Rapids scoring two goals and leaving the pitch with three points.
Coach Oscar Pareja played three guys with some speed on the back line, which allowed for attacking support, and resulted in winger Kosuke Kimura providing both assists for the night, and central defender Drew Moor scoring off a header late in the first half. (Drew kissing the Rapids crest on his shirt in celebration was the icing on the cake for me. Such a class act, that Moor.) Columbus had some good chances in the first half, forcing keeper Matt Pickens to make a couple heroic saves, but the second half really seemed to belong to Colorado.
Perhaps the most refreshing coaching choice came in the second half: where former coach Gary Smith would have subbed in a defender to try and hold the 1-0 lead until the clock ran out, Pareja subbed in another offensive player to try to deliver another goal, and did he ever deliver. Quincy Amarikwa is fast, and he’s not afraid to take risks, and I respect him for that, but he’s often a ball of unfocused energy, determined but a little frantic. This time, Amarikwa delivered and it was glorious. His 88th minute goal was nothing short of beautiful. (Seriously, have you guys seen this!?
For a season opener, I was pleased with the team I saw fielded and with the overall attacking strategy. Of course I see room for improvement, but there’s no denying it feels good to win at home, especially on opening day.
Looking forward to this weekend, the Rapids hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Union in their home opener. I don’t expect any major lineup changes on the Colorado side; Pablo Mastroeni has been cleared to play after leaving the field following a knock to the head (I swear he’s one head injury away from swapping headgear reviews with Petr Cech), and there are no other new injuries (thankfully).
I caught the Portland/Philly match this past week, and while I felt the Union played pretty well in the first half, they sort of fell apart in the second. I realize it’s not my job to evaluate the Union, but it is my job to speculate on the upcoming match, and as I watched the Timbers dominate the second half, I found myself thinking “If this is the Philly that shows up next weekend, the game is in the bag.” However, I’m not sure that Union is the one that we’ll see this weekend. Surely they’ll be looking for redemption and to take three points in their home opener.
If you’re a Rapids fan looking for somewhere to catch this week’s action, there are viewing parties set up all over Colorado where you can catch the match and grab a drink with other fans. Check the Pid Army or Class VI Facebook page for details. No Fan Alone!
(images courtesy of Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids)