Colorado Advances to Final

COMMERCE CITY, CO - NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Chris Sharpe, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, with trophy, and Matt Pickens of the Colorado Rapids parade around the field as they celebrate their victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS Eastern Conference Final at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on November 13, 2010 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated the Earthquakes to advance to the 2010 MLS Championship game. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Forty-two minutes into the first half, fullback Kosuke Kimura sent in a hopeful cross towards Omar Cummings and the right back ended up claiming a goal. Cummings couldn’t quite get to the cross, though his involvement fooled goalkeeper Jon Busch and allowed Kimura’s service to bounce into the far corner. His goal was the only tally Colorado needed to hold off San Jose.

1st Half

Kimura, the best player on the pitch for much of the evening, had the two most important plays of the half. In the 26th he sprinted into his own box to deny Ryan Johnson a one-one-one with keeper Matt Pickens. The other, of course, was the goal. For most of the half Kimura was the only fullback going forward for either team. His cause was helped by right midfielder Wells Thompson’s narrow positioning. Thompson wasn’t cutting inside when he had the ball, the normal way to allow fullbacks space. He was, however,  staying quite close to his center mids whenever Colorado was in possession.

In a 4-4-2 vs 4-2-3-1 battle, Colorado were top due to the attacking talents of right back Kimura.

San Jose tried to find space for Geovanni by shifting from their normal 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 to a pronounced 4-2-3-1. The Brazilian imitated Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas with his movement: he was as likely to be found along the wing as beside Johnson. In fact, Geovanni sometimes strayed deeper than his own CMs in a bid to become involved. Colorado midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni did an admirable job closing him down whenever he had possession. Though Geovanni was negated for much of the match, he did provide the teasing ball that forced Kimura to track down Johnson.

In our match preview we noted that Colorado likes to swing Omar Cummings to their opposition’s left flank. He drifted to that wing on a number of occasions in the first half, but left back Tim Ward and center back Brandon McDonald were stout, often forcing Cummings into a backpass. As a result, Cummings stayed inside and attempted to bother the center backs with his pace. On a swift 22nd minute counter Cummings found himself alone in the box but was denied by Busch.

2nd Half

San Jose brought on four strikers but still couldn't find the back of the net.

Neither team changed formation until San Jose shifted to a 4-4-2 in the 72nd. Colorado, to their credit, never left their 4-4-2 and brought on a forward when they could have set up shop in their own half. They certainly weren’t attempting to dominate possession, but they did continue to use Cummings’ speed to attack San Jose’s backline.

After San Jose used all of their substitutes, they had four strikers on the  field (Johnson, Chris Wondolowski, Scott Sealy, and Eduardo). The Earthquakes remained in a nominal 4-4-2, though at the end of the match it looked like a 3-3-4. When San Jose had possession they quickly shifted the ball to their left side and used the crossing talents of Arturo Alvarez and Bobby Convey to try and connect with one of the four forwards. Ironically, their best chance fell to center back McDonald, who couldn’t put his free header on target.

San Jose Fluid, Colorado Stalwart

McDonald wasn’t the only Earthquake to fail inside the box. Of San Jose’s five shots, only two were on target. Their cause wasn’t helped by Colorado’s outstanding penalty area defense. San Jose would saunter down the pitch only to be stymied on the edge of the box. And as soon as Colorado received possession, they shuffled the ball to a wing (normally the right) and flew upfield. Their countering style, along with the slightly lucky goal, was enough to advance.

Colorado awaits the winner of tonight’s Dallas-LA Western Conference Final.

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. bensten says:

    I totally agree with Kimura as MVP, but hats off to the entire COLO back line. Wynne and Moor both had excellent positioning and Moor in particular was very aggressive in the air. Wallace wasn’t as attack-minded as Kimura, but I thought he was well-balanced on the left side.

    Either LA or Dallas will have to deal with what could be the best back four in the league right now…

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