Friday, April 25, 2008

From the Stands: Khano Smiths A Victory Out of Scrap Metal

After a long hiatus mainly due to some personal issues From the Stands returns, readers rejoice!

Last night I was speaking to Sean prior the FC Dallas match, made a bit of a throw away prediction by saying don’t sweat it keep the faith the reserves will beat Dallas tonight. He laughed me off, but I just said you never know when a gritty team plays a more talented team what will happen. I brought up the recent Bruins vs Canadiens series and got the typical boo hockey response, but it did hold true. With many of the Revs players scrapping for a position on the team they came out hustling against the more talented Dallas squad. With Wells back in the lineup and Flood once again getting a start in the center of the midfield the work rate wouldn’t take a dip with Nyassi and Larentowicz missing through injury.

The game itself was played with lots of physicality with guys like Ricardinho appearing to be stabbed and shot every few moments as he was consistently rolling around on the ground writhing in pain. When Igwe was finally booked in the 93 minute, it was the first time Ricardinho might have been warranted in acting hurt. There were plenty of other interesting subplots that developed Hilgenbrinck trying to keep up with the much fresher and faster Oduro late in the match, which I though he did a good job controlling the speed. There were things like Mansally ending up dropping into the midfield to lend support and collect the ball as the Revs were in a 4-4-2 instead of the normal 3-5-2. The Revs attacked from time to time and had maybe the best 3 chances of the match. The first was when Mansally crossed to the back post for an onrushing Wells Thompson who only managed to look up from the ground and see his lunging header flash outside the post. Then there was Jay Heaps getting set up right near the penalty spot after a nice low hard cross by Gary Flood. Except Heaps did everything he could to impersonate Kanu by popping the shot over the crossbar on his side footed redirection. The other golden chance was finally converted for the only goal of the game. Surprisingly it came off the right foot, yes I said right foot, of Khano Smith. After getting held back on the left wing, Khano used the play on advantage to swing the defender aside, use his speed to cut inside to the top of the box and then unleashed a well placed shot into the bottom corner of the net past a statuesque Dario Sala. This goal held up despite a late surge by Dallas that included Drew Moor forcing Reis into a good reaction/positioning save off a late corner. All in all about all you could expect out of a team missing so many key players.

Match Ratings:
Reis: 8 - Made the key saves when necessary and managed to give Cooper a good shove on the offsides.

Hilgenbrinck: 6 - Steady defensively and didn’t make too many mistakes.

Heaps: 6 - Didn’t make many mistakes communicated well with Parkhurst and marked Cooper well on the set pieces despite the height difference. Should have given the Revs the lead with that sitter.

Parkhurst: 7 – Did very well patrolling the whole field, most notably stripping Cooper cleanly on the left sideline.

Igwe: 7 – Very physical and showed good patience, made the one mistake with the late tackle on Ricardinho, wonder if it was a message for all the diving?

Smith: 7 (MotM) – Yes he’s man of the match simply because of the goal, but its what we have come to expect from Kenny. Long runs from midfield that lead to goals (see Real Salt Lake), if only he could do that more often.

Joseph: 7 – Very solid in the middle defended and attack well and controlled the game with his distribution, typical game for the deputy Captain.

Flood: 7 – Did all you could expect out of him and probably should have earned an assist after setting up Heaps right on the doorstep.

Thompson: 7 – Made his signature speedy runs down the wing, and got into good position for the header. His set pieces were actually better than I remembered him doing before.

Cristman: 6 – Not his best game, didn’t move all that well without the ball and hardly got into a dangerous position and was rightly subbed out for Dube.

Mansally: 7 – Moved well without the ball, drew defenders away from the box by moving around to pick up the ball in different locations. Set up Wells with that very nice cross at the back post.

Dube: 6 – Didn’t have much to do in the first few minutes, then Kenny scored and Dube shifted his attention to defending. Good showing from the young player in limited minutes.

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