It's not time to hit the panic button yet, but that was a pretty distressing performance. It was strangely similar to our away match at Colorado last year, except without the successful fight back to make it palatable. There is something that Ricketts seriously doesn't like about DSG Park. Last season he seemed seriously discomfited by the wind. Similarly, this year he really didn't seem comfortable and when we finally came to grief it was not entirely surprising.
As for the rest of the team, well, it was pretty forgettable. There were stretches where we really played our game, but for long periods we looked like we just didn't have a clue as to how to break Colorado down. We showed that we were brittle in defense. This is usually less of a problem because we can keep possession for long enough to limit their chances. But that didn't happen on Saturday night. A 50/50 split in possession is not going to cut it when we're playing the way we are right now.
The soundtrack to our experience in Colorado was Porter's constant attempts to influence the game from the sidelines. "Keep it rolling" was the constant refrain from the technical area, and for a time it seemed to be working. In the last 20 minutes of the first half we showed what we can do when we move the ball from side to side and when our pace players make their speed tell. But didn't convert that into a score and thus the game was still in the balance in the 73rd minute when it all went pear-shaped.
1. Donovan Ricketts: DR is an excellent keeper, but he found a way to have an even worse game than he did the last time we visited Colorado. The wind, the cold, maybe even the altitude, it all seemed to leave him really out of sorts. His movement didn't look good and he had some handling problems that were very much outside the norm. And then he got sent off. The whole thing could have been avoided if he had just come out decisively. But he hesitated and this allowed Brown to get on to an atypically well-placed ball over the top. What followed is the kind of thing that will get a keeper sent off pretty much 100% percent of the time. He had some good moments in the course of the game, but the fact of the matter is that he made a very poor decision in a crucial moment, and that went a long way to costing us the match. 3
5. Michael Harrington: He was more energetic than he's been in the last couple of weeks, but he kept getting trapped with the ball against the sideline. This shouldn't happen in our system, and when it does it mostly has to do with the failure of others to move in ways that forestall it. With Zakuani in front of him he should have had lots of opportunities to cause havoc, but all too often either he or Zakuani settled for a negative pass, or didn't move things forward with sufficient ambition. As a result we were pretty much neutered on the left hand side. This is part of a broader systemic failure in the way that we were running our offense, but Harrington can't be fully exonerated. 5
44. Pa-Modou Kah: Not a bad night, mostly, but he gave the ball away too often. In particular, he played a very ill-conceived ball up the middle and then didn't make things good by preventing either the ball or the man from coming back by him. 5
98. Futty Danso: Co-responsible with Jewsbury for getting beat to a ball over the top by Deshorn Brown. Other than that, well, it was pretty much par for the course: he didn't move the ball fast enough out of the back, and all too often he chose to go over the top, which in the conditions under which the match was played pretty much assured that we were going to lose the ball. This rating is a gift. 4
13. Jack Jewsbury: He did a good job of getting forward and provided width effectively when he did. He managed not to get pinned by back Deshorn Brown's pace, which was good. On the other hand, he failed to track Brown's run on the play that led to the first penalty, and he and Danso basically hung Ricketts out to dry. That's not good enough. 5
7. Steve Zakuani: Still finding his way back into things. He had a couple of very good moments in attack, particularly when he used his pace to pin Colorado's defenders back. Most of the problems with his game related to the fact that he just didn't get enough of the ball. He only made it 65 minutes, which suggests (at least in part) that his still getting fit. More time in the offense will do him (and us) a power of good. 6
21. Diego Chará: Man of the Match I suppose, but really only because he was less poor than some others in the side. He did a pretty good impression of the Little Dutch Boy, running around trying to plug holes in the dyke while the guys in front of him repeatedly gave up the ball. He was leading the league in fouls committed at kickoff and I can't imagine that changed over the course of 90 minutes. He even managed to get forward a few times. His performance was this difference between the tragedy that this match was and the disaster that it could have been. 7
4. Will Johnson: He was like the cruise director on a ship where no one wants to play shuffleboard or tour the Mayan ruins. You could see him trying to channel Porter and to get people to do the things they needed to do to make the offense work, but he just couldn't seem to cut through the general malaise that seemed to afflict our midfielders and forwards. It didn't help that his how passing and movement were not up to their wonted standards. 6
8. Diego Valeri: Porter is still working through the permutations, trying to figure out how to get all his assets on the field at the same time. The consequence was the Valeri spent a large proportion of his time deployed on the right wing. The results were not particularly impressive. And why should this surprise us? Wingers need pace in order to present the plausible threat that they will beat a defender to the byline. Valeri has many assets, but blistering speed is not one of them. Putting him wide right, especially with (the also not very pacey) Jewsbury behind him meant that we were pretty easy to confound on that side. Located centrally, Valeri can make his technique tell, using the wide variety of avenues open to him either to move the ball in tight spaces or to hit teammates cutting to the box. Packed up against the sideline with only Jewsbury for support, Valeri was neutered for most of the night. 5
6. Darlington Nagbe: The thought process behind deploying him the middle is not hard to parse. Nagbe is one of the fastest guys in the league, and he showed a number of times in preseason that he can cause havoc when he runs at central defenders. And then of course there is his notorious tendency to become disconnected if he spends too much time in wide areas. But the fact that he was there and Valeri was wide had a lot to do with our misfiring attack. There were only a couple of occasions when he really used his assets to full effect. All too often he received the ball so deep that he was unable to exert the right kind of pressure. And his passing wasn't very good. Of course there was no one in a green shirt of whom that could not be said. 5
10. Gastón Fernández: La Gata was about the best thing we had going on offense, which really wasn't saying much. He got called offside half a dozen times, which shows that he was being aggressive, but also that his timing (and that of the whole attack) was not the best. The biggest criticism that I have of him was that he was forced off the ball far too easily far too often. Still, he was dynamic in the attack, which was better than others one could name. 6.5
37. Max Urruti: Brought on to spell Zakuani, his arrival portended a more centrally focused attacking approach. Sadly, he didn't add a great deal to it. 5
33. Andrew Weber: The first ball that he saw in anger was the one that Vicente Sánchez put in for the penalty on Ricketts. The second was when Sánchez shamelessly flopped for the second penalty. The third one was Brown's penalty that he saved…only to have Brown pot the rebound. He didn't do badly, and he can't be blamed either for the criminal play in defense that led to Sánchez's run into the box nor for the latter's complete lack of even the most basic professional ethics. 6
2. Alvas Powell: He came on for the last ten minutes, plus stoppage time, and pretty much just closed the barn door while the horse was galloping away over the high Colorado plains. He looked pretty good, for whatever that was worth, and I guess I'd like to see him get a run out, but only after we've gotten ourselves sorted out in defense a bit better than we are now. 6