View from the Booth: Beautiful vs. ugly

Cannon made spectacular plays and the Quakes had some spectacular misses -- and couldn't get one shot into the back of the net.

It's a pretty simple formula for Rapids coach Tim Hankinson these days: Send out Joe Cannon and pray. And it's not just on the road; they play like that at home. They make a few runs early, and if they can't get an early goal, they play everybody but a token forward behind the ball. If they get a late goal they're delighted, but if not they leave happily with their one point, and make no excuses for turning it into a deadly dull 0-0 adventure.

"If that was their game plan," said forward Brian Ching. "It worked well and Joe came up huge for them."

If I paid good money to see the Rapids play regularly, I'd ask for my money back.

Even Cannon agrees it's not the best way to spend an evening. I asked him if he really thought the fans came to see a 0-0 game. "No I don't and I'm sorry about that," he said. "At the same time we were hoping to get a little more of the ball. Even with one forward, we were hoping to hold the ball more and get more chances."

There are lots of folks in this country who believe that the best way to entertain fans and to keep them coming back is style as much as result. While the Quakes are always hoping for results, they never vary the style. Sometimes it ends up being a 5-5 game and other times, it is 0-0. There isn't one educated soccer fan who watched the adventure on Saturday night and didn't think the Quakes were the better team, and that Joe Cannon was All-World.

One team played to win and the other played for a point.

And I guess that is the point. There are too many games like this, and too many coaches willing to settle in for a 90-minute snoozer to get a point. It may get regular season results, but it has two serious flaws: 1) It doesn't keep the fans coming back and 2) It's not much of a postseason formula. Defense may win championships, as they say, but you have to score to win.

In 24 games, the Rapids have scored 21 goals. And they're in third place solely because they've given up only 21 goals. In contrast, in 22 games, the Quakes have scored 36 goals, allowed 28 and are in last place. Go figure.

"One goal changes the whole nature of the game," said midfielder Brian Mullan, one of three players with an excellent chance to break the ice early in the first five minutes of the second half. "They can't pack it in like they were doing. They have to come out and get us and it opens them up for more goals."

"It's not a loss, but it certainly feels like one," said Ching. He and the rest of the Quakes know -- despite the strategy employed by the other team -- they shouldn't be looking up at every other team in the table.

"We have a great opportunity to win a lot of games," says defender Troy Dayak, who has been part of three shutouts in the last four games. "We know we're a better team than all the teams we've been playing lately. It's just a matter of execution."

While their methods are unseemly and uninteresting, the Rapids did execute better than the Quakes on this particular night.

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

John Shrader has been the voice of the Earthquakes since 1996 and has worked in television and radio in the Bay Area for the past 20 years.

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