COMMERCE CITY, CO - OCTOBER 01: Goalkeeper Matt Pickens #18 of the Colorado Rapids blocks a shot by Brek Shea #20 of the FC Dallas at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on October 1, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated FC Dallas 1-0. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Better late than never, UZ from Burgundy Wave and myself traded three questions ahead of tonight's Western Conference showdown.
1) Obviously Oscar Pareja is someone very near and dear to us. Talk about your impressions of him as a manager through his first couple months and how he has changed the team, positively or negatively
As one would expect from a manager who is just cutting his teeth at the job, there's been some growing pains. The biggest problems have been in the form a few questionable roster decisions and some points where he was sticking to systems that simply weren't working. He has shown us a great ability to scout talent for his team - just about every pick up so far this season has already contributed to the squad - and he knows how to make good adjustments during half time which has led to the Rapids being very, very good in the second halves of games even when they start a bit slowly. All in all, we're fans so far. He's got plenty more time to keep on learning and getting better and as he does, the team will improve along with it.
2) Colorado, much like Dallas, has been almost unbeatable at home, and very tame on the road, what has been the difference between the team home and away?
At home, they have played much better defensively and it's been the difference. So far they've only given up two goals at home, both against the Galaxy, and one of those was an own goal. On the road they seem to panic a bit and it's led to them being down at half time almost every single game to the point where they haven't been able to recover.
The scouting report on Colorado this season under the new 'possession and passing' system they've put in has been to get a quick lead in any way possible and then simply play bunker ball with 9 men back and let Colorado possess; against good defenses they haven't been able to find their way through so far. Naturally, better defending at home means that they don't give up leads like that and can win games with their style.
3) Conor Casey has been out for a long time but seems to be nearing fitness. Could he be back on Sunday and who are the main people to watch in the Rapids attack?
He is fit and ready to play by all accounts and only didn't play against New England because they didn't want his first full game back to be on FieldTurf. He should be back for at least 45 minutes against FC Dallas, which means that Omar Cummings should be playing like his old self with his strike partner back. Of course, Casey himself will be a guy to watch as well; he only had a minute of play time against Chivas USA but managed to mind-bogglingly almost score twice in that single minute.
Bonus: If you could take one player from FCD, who would it be and why?
I've always been an admirer of Brek Shea. Even when he's not in form I like watching him play. He's versatile and knows how to score lovely goals, two things that I like in a player and I'd love to see someone of his type on the Rapids right now.