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GAME FOUR: COLORADO RAPIDS v. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
9′: Corner Kick by Jamie Smith goes to Pablo Mastroeni in Area B. The USMNT defensive-midfielder weaves and takes a beautiful shot on goal. Jon Busch makes a spectacular punching save, but the rebound to the wing ends up at the feet of Conor Casey. Casey makes a graceful dip under Jose Hernandez and buries a shot in the far post. Colorado leads 1-0.
12′: Barely 3 minutes later, Colorado has regained possession and Jamie Smith passes to Jeff Larentowicz who is able to head the ball in to the crowded box (Area A). Omar Cummings is there to grab the loose ball and fires into the net for the Rapids’ second goal. The Earthquakes are stunned, the Colorado crowd is jubilant, and the home side is up 2-0 just 12 minutes into the game.
45′: With moments to go in the half, Brian Ballouchy makes an awful mental gaffe when he absolutely mauls Ryan Johnson about 40 yards from goal. He earns a Yellow Card for his effort. Chris ‘the Wonder’ Wondolowski, last year’s Golden Boot winner, takes the ensuing DFK and shoots. His shot hits the post but is deflected into the net. The Earthquakes have reason to be optimistic about the second half as both teams head back down the tunnel. The score is Colorado 2, San Jose 1.
48′: Colorado strikes quickly in the 2nd half when Conor Casey is fouled in Area B after making a solo run off the kickoff. His Direct Free Kick squeezes in the near post despite a great effort by Busch. Casey has a Brace and the Rapids lead 3-1.
65′: Kosuke Kimura (one of the most under-rated defenders in the league, in this announcer’s opinion) nearly gets a header past Busch when Pablo Mastroeni’s corner kick reaches him near the edge of the box. Busch makes a tremendous save to keep the game within reach for San Jose.
90′: It’s all but over when Conor Casey slams the nail in the coffin for the Earthquakes. His amazing long-range (Area D) free kick curls into the net and becomes an early-season highlight for the Rapids and their captain. Casey’s Hat Trick earns him Man of the Match, Player of the Week, and gets Colorado (the real-life 2010 MLS Cup winners) off to a fast start in the replay.
MAN OF THE MATCH: CONOR CASEY
This was a very fun game to play (though aren’t they all?) even though Colorado dominated from the start. Their defensive rating (5) vs. San Jose’s (3) turned out to be a big advantage, as they seemed to have a lot of takeaways.
At some point, I’ll have to go back through this season and tally up a bunch of stats that I’m not keeping track of yet – like possession, steals, fouls suffered (by player). I am keeping detailed play-by-play of each game, so these stats are there, I just haven’t counted them yet. I am particularly interested in the percentage of set pieces that result in a shot. In this game, there were 3 goals on Direct Free Kicks. I don’t know what the stats were in real life, but it does seem that there are more shots on set pieces than normal. I’m ok with it, generally, since my total shots is right in line with MLS’s total shots.
Real Life 2010 MLS shots per game: 22.0
Replay (through first 8 games): 21.9