The Colorado Rapids had just about the worst offense in the league last season. They finished dead last in the West in goals scored. They also averaged less than one goal a game, a feat matched only by newbie Toronto FC.
It wasn’t just last year either.
The Rapids have played great D for years, but they’ve been plagued by a perpetual inability to score. No goals meant no success. All they needed was a playmaker.
Christian Gomez is a playmaker. And in his first game as a Rapid, he made the Rapids’ front office suits who got him for a bargain from DC look swell. He also made the Galaxy look absolutely amateurish. On Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd, Gomez out-deuled David Beckham and the Rapids won both squad’s season openers by the decisive score of 4-0.
So, how did Gomez do it?
Well, Gomez is one of the few players in the league that is not just dangerous because he’s good, but also because he makes those around him look like they’re good. Or at least much, much better.
Any player in the league would have to want Gomez controlling his team’s offense’s fortunes. Not only will W’s surely pile up faster than L’s, but so will goals, and no one’s contract incentives get met when the team averages less than one goal a game.
Alexi Lalas didn’t go out and get Gomez for the Gals. No, he instead procured probably one of the most despised players in the league, Carlos “The Fish” Ruiz. After one game, Gomez has one goal, while The Fish… Well, let’s just say he looked like he’d been cleaned and gutted out there (bad fish pun, I know…)
In all fairness though, it helps that Gomez didn’t have to do it alone against the Gals. In fact, one could argue the most impressive looking performance came from Terry Cooke.
Beckham and Cooke’s periods with Manchester United’s youth clubs barely missed overlapping, and Cooke played so sparingly (4 games) for the senior squad, you’d have to wonder whether Beckham even remembered him from Old Trafford.
While Beckham has had 100 caps for the English Men’s National Team, Cooke has zero. Yet, on Saturday, it was Cooke, and not Beckham, who looked like the superstar.
Terry Cooke is not just a decent player, he’s a damn good player, he just has never really had tons to work with offensively. Despite that fact, he has been an assist machine the last two years. He appears to now be some sort of assist “supermachine” because he had two on Saturday against the Galaxy… and he scored the first goal.
The goal was created by Gomez really. He drilled a shot off the post from about 20 yards out, and Cooke got the rebound goal. Both shots were fantastic though Cooke’s was definitely more effective.
Gomez almost drilled another shot into the net only minutes later. There was a weird look of desperation on Cronin’s face, and though he made a nice save on the second shot you could clearly see he looked as if he was saying “holy shit” quietly under his breath.
He was defintely saying “holy shit” after Gomez proceeded to score on a penalty 15 minutes into the second half. The penalty was called on Xavier for taking Gomez down in the box. I have never really watched Xavier play for anyone but the Galaxy, so I am still finding it hard to believe he somehow is held in high regard by some fans and analysts. Every time I have watched him, he has played not just poorly, but foolishly as well.
Minutes after Gomez scored from the penalty spot, Cooke produced the third goal for the Rapids by delivering a great ball to Omar Cummings. Cooke also created the Rapids’ fourth goal when he got the ball to Colin Clark who basically made Xavier look ridiculous.
Well, more ridiculous than he looks normally, anyways.
How did Xavier handle being made look foolish? About as well as he handles everything else. He was ejected eight minutes later for what can only be described as the stupidest red card ever. First he makes a questionable tackle, then he proceeds to run his mouth at everyone within ear’s shot.
What the hell is he doing using “abusive language” in the final moments of a game his team is losing 4-0? He had actually made a nice play three minutes earlier to prevent yet another goal. I guess he thought he’d celebrate his heroic fifth goal stopping play by talking some smack.
I can only imagine that because Xavier couldn’t win the game, he hoped to at least win a war of words. Well, he must have said something unflattering about someone close to Rapids’ rookie Ciaran O’Brien, because O’Brien proceeded to make one hell of a nasty tackle on Carlos Ruiz. For once, when The Fish flopped, he’d actually been badly hooked. O’Brien was sent off for his idiotic tackle, and he nearly ignited a brawl between the two sides as time expired.
That’s right, the Dick was almost the site of a second beat down. It would have been almost humorless to watch the Galaxy be beaten soundly on the field not once but twice. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and a full scale fight was avoided.
Landon Donovan blamed the fact the Galaxy had too many preseason games. Yeah, because too much practice and preparation is exactly what costs teams championships every year.
I’m sorry, but if Donovan is saying the long preseason wore the Galaxy out already, I don’t know what to think other than the fact that they were never fit to begin with. I mean, if they can’t make it through the preseason without getting tired, how are they going to make it through another 29 games?
Donovan’s excuse was bad (especially considering the fact he didn’t look so tired Wednesday when he was annoying the shit out of the Polish Men’s National Team’s defense), but Beckham’s was nearly as laughable.
Though Beckham handled the loss with some class (he first congratulated Colorado on their victory), he also made some enigmatic comments about the officiating (um, you could argue the penalty goal was created by a bad call, but I just can’t understand how the refs helped the Rapids score the other three goals…). So, Donovan has an excuse, Beckham has another excuse, what about Ruud?
Well, Gullit blamed the loss on high altitude. That’s one theory (one of three offered by the Galaxy alone, and it hasn’t even been 48 hours since the match). Sure, the altitude probably played some role. But again, I don’t think thin air (or a long preseason, or a couple of calls) made a four goal difference.
Personally, I am not going to blame high altitude, I’m just going to blame it on Alexi Lalas possibly being high all offseason. Also just a theory, but one that would explain a heck of alot.