Man of the Match: Chances come and go for mere mortals. But Thierry Henry is Thierry Henry because he knows how to exploit a chance with extreme prejudice. Yes, his early opener Sunday was a gifted opportunity on a ridiculous Colorado give-away, but lesser strikers can and have missed better chances. Henry then put Kenny Cooper through with pinpoint precision for an early 2-0 lead. Later, Henry remained busy linking and occasionally chasing back, then struck again early in the second 45. Mostly though, that early cushion was exactly what the Red Bulls so desperately needed; his clean finish and deadeye ball into Cooper’s stride is why he gets the big money.
Packaged for take away:
- Hard assessments are difficult to make from this one; a team playing at home with a 2-0 lead inside of six minutes can go loosey-goosey, defending and moving the ball with confidence and swagger. Things suddenly become comfortable and highly manageable for Hans Backe’s men. Credit the Red Bulls for professionally seeing out the match, and there were several credible performances for the men in red and white – but let’s hold off just a little on stamping the Red Bulls’ problems “solved.”
- Kenny Cooper had a Man of the Match-type night, too. Wilman Conde, in his 2012 debut, was solid next to Markus Holgersson along the back line.
- Rafa Marquez is a better player when box-to-box man Dax McCarty is around to do the center-of-the-park running. Things are just too static and staid when Marquez pairs with Teemu Tainio, with not enough central, offensive push in Backe’s 4-4-2.
- Without Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni, the very heart and soul of this Colorado side, these are the Rapids-lite. No disrespect to good MLS players around the park for Colorado, but the veteran, central pair was sorely, sorely missed Sunday.
- Good examples: Replacement midfielder Ross LaBauex committed that early, crusher of a give-way. It was just a misguided moment from a young, lesser-experienced man, perhaps a little nervous for his part in a marque league match. Later, in the 30th minute, the Rapids took a quick free kick from just outside the penalty area. Wouldn’t it have been nice for a wise, old hand to make sure the Rapids tapped the brakes, calmed down and fully exploited such a good scoring chance?