NEW YORK – Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith has warned the San Jose Earthquakes that they shouldn’t plan on coming to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the Eastern Conference Championship with the same attack-minded lineup that they used in their 3-1 playoff victory in New York.
“What [San Jose manager Frank Yallop] knows is that if he puts too many forwards on that pitch and they don’t get it quite right, they’ll be vulnerable to a team which has been dominating at home for a majority of the season,” Smith said on a Tuesday media teleconference call.
“All in all, there are some decisions to contemplate coming here [to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park].”
Later on the same call, Yallop addressed the type of game that the Earthquakes planned to play and he was not buying into Smith’s line of thinking.
“We’re not going there to sit back,” Yallop said. “We’re not going to do that. We’ve never done that. We’re going to see what happens. … It will be a good game, an open game.”
The Quakes scored three goals at Red Bull Arena to eliminate Thierry Henry's Red Bulls. Though that may have sent shockwaves throughout the league, the Rapids' head coach wasn’t blown away.
“The game we watched was exciting on Thursday,” Smith said of San Jose's victory last week. “I tip my hat to the result San Jose got because that’s not an easy place to get a result. But there were many moments in the game where the balance could have tipped in the other direction.”
The Rapids manager pointed to New York midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy's point-blank opportunity and the Juan Agudelo shot that hit the woodwork, that latter of which Smith said he was “not sure [Quakes 'keeper] Jon Busch knew too much about.”
Yallop said he’s well aware of the dangerous attacking weapons the Rapids possess and their ability to launch quick-fire counterattacks, but he insisted that the Earthquakes — who finished the regular season with the fewest points among the four remaining teams — will not change their game for anyone.
“We pick ourselves up and fight,” Yallop said. “That’s been our spirit all year. We’re looking forward to the game. We’re not afraid of anybody and we’ll play that way.”
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