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Three Questions on Colorado Rapids

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For the second time in a month, I traded three questions with Burgundy Wave on tonight's game....Enjoy!

1) Colorado has just been on a really bad run lately losing 6 of their last 7. We’re all Oscar Pareja fans, but is there starting to get some major pressure on him to produce or has the organization committed to him for the long haul?

1. The Rapids have shown clearly that they are completely, 100% on board with Pareja's plan of attack even though the results perhaps haven't been there in the end at times. He's having plenty of influence on the organization if you look beyond just wins and losses, helping to boost the academy system and recruit youth for the team better than Gary Smith ever could have dreamed. Everyone knew this was going to be a rebuilding year, the only frustrating thing is how well the team seems to be performing on the field yet losing matches anyway. I believe we've likened his attempt to transform this team to trying to turn Stoke into Arsenal, which really isn't all that far off of the truth. The fans may be impatient but the front office, thankfully, knows better. I would expect Pareja for at least another two years regardless of how this season ends up.

2) What has been the biggest problems in this losing run for the Rapids? Has it been unlucky or what the team deserved?

2. Little from column A, little from column B. Luck has played a big part in it -- the Rapids had two games against Vancouver this year when they outshot the Caps by 12+ and still lost both games 1-0 -- but I'd say the biggest factor has simply been confidence. The team just lacks belief in their ability to hold onto games, which is why they have a 2-14-1 record this season when their opposition scores even a single goal at any point in a game. If they shut other teams out, they look like world beaters. Unfortunately, if they go six games without shutting a team out they get a month like July. We saw again against RSL what the team is capable of when they have control of a full game, they just need to learn how to handle adversity without folding like an origami swan.

3) What can we expect from the Rapids attack and where will the goals come from?

3. That depends, Oscar has built the team that has the most goalscorers in the league, with 14 different people putting the ball in the net this year. You never know where the goals are going to come from, but there are a few constants. Martin Rivero and Jaime Castrillon are the two guys who seem to be involved in just about every single attacking play that goes on this season, but not in the same way.

Rivero has provided wonderful service from the #10 position in the midfield, and is the guy defenses always have to watch out for when the team is going forward. If Rivero gets a free kick in a dangerous area, it's rarely a dud. If the Rapids get a corner and somebody misses their assignment, it's almost always a goal for Colorado. Castrillon on the other hand has been given the nickname 'the invisible man' by us over at BW because he loves the other team to not notice him. (He actually used to have a similar nickname, El Fantasma, back when he played in Colombia!) He will sneak in behind plays almost playing a third striker role and suddenly come up big in the box when you least expect it -- that's how he got five goals so far this season and if luck was on his side, he would probably have seven or eight. Castrillon won't get many touches on the ball, but when he does they tend to be really big ones. Watch out for Rivero and Castrillon, they have reinvented the offensive potential of the Rapids midfield.

Bonus: Tell us a Rapids player who may not be a household name but could have a big impact on Saturday?

Bonus: Joseph Nane is a guy who has really come into his own lately. Originally a third string defensive midfielder on Toronto FC, he came over to the Rapids under Gary Smith last year and became, well, a third string defensive midfielder on the Rapids. The guy lacked what it took to be a Pablo Mastroeni replacement and didn't get used all that much, minus a game you might remember where he was one of Dallas' MVPs in a 3-0 win over the Rapids early in the year. Oscar Pareja has taken him under his wing and completely reworked his style of play and his confidence -- it helps when one of the best two-way midfielders in league history is helping you out in that regard, I guess -- which has led to three straight blistering appearances for Nane, including a goal scoring appearance against Real Salt Lake. If he starts alongside Jeff Larentowicz this weekend, I might keep my eye on Nane just as much as I would on the Ginger Ninja.

And here's my answers for him...

1. Fabian Castillo came out of nowhere in the eyes of most Rapids fans to take over that last 2-1 match. Is that his usual form and should we expect another such performance Saturday?

That was actually probably his best performance in a Dallas jersey. The variable at play when Castillo takes on Colorado is that he’s facing Oscar Pareja, the guy almost single-handedly responsible for bringing him to Dallas. Castillo lived with Oscar’s family when he first got here and he feels a very close connection to him.

That’s not to say Castillo isn’t capable of the spectacular, but he’s never been able to do it consistently as you might expect from a 20-year-old. He’s about as electrifying when running at defenders as any player in the league and loves to beat defenders to the endline before sending in a dangerous cross, but he’s never been able to do it for a month at a time.

2. Which player from the Rapids are you as a Dallas fan most worried about when the teams take the field?

Of course there’s always going to be a worry when Omar Cummings and Conor Casey are on the pitch together. I’d be very interested to see what kind of record the Rapids have and how many GPG they score when those two guys are healthy. It’s a shame they can’t seem to put together a long run of games together.

Another guy that scares me is Brian Mullan simply because he’s a guy that always seemed to kill Dallas when playing for Houston. Mullan just never takes a game off it seems like…

3. Are Dallas fans considering that 5-0 thrashing of Portland to be something of a season changer, seeing as it showed just what Dallas was capable of? Or is it seemingly just a blip on a radar to you folks considering how Portland has been playing?

Well first off, Portland is awful. They’re really, really bad.

I think that the Portland game was 50% Portland simply giving up, as their coach said they did, and 50% Dallas taking out a lot of their frustrations. When healthy, I think FC Dallas is a playoff team, but they still have yet to put a first choice XI on the pitch one time this year. In the Portland game, everything clicked and for whatever reason the Timbers employed a strategy of sitting off David Ferreira and letting him turn with the ball. When you do that, he will kill you.

4. Lineup/score prediction

I think we’ve seen some really good signs from the Dallas offense and Brek Shea played well in his return last week at Portland. If Dallas hadn’t gotten the red card, I think FCD would’ve scored two or three goals. Scott Sealy has scored twice in three games and things are finally starting to gel. Another key addition has been Julian de Guzman who has produced some very solid defensive midfield play. Homer prediction of 3-1 FC Dallas(as long as they don’t get two sent off in the first half ;)

Hartman – Rodriguez – John – Hedges – Benitez – de Guzman – Jacobson – Castillo – Shea – Ferreira – Sealy