Chris Sharpe: Colorado Rapids' ex-Man Utd lads delighted
Sunday against DC United is basically a must-win game for us at Colorado Rapids. The frustrating defeat we suffered on the road at Chicago Fire was our third in four games and we really need victory over DC to steady the ship - and also to give our fans something to shout about. The fortunate thing for us is that the entire comp has been up-and-down this season. Despite the recent slide, Rapids are still only three points from overcoming LA Galaxy and FC Dallas at the top of the Western Conference. Chicago was a tough result to swallow. Especially the fact that it was a game there to be won. They have weaknesses that we had identified throughout the week and we just didn't exploit them very well. We lost the game in a 10 minute period in the second-half. When trying to find something of our own going forward, we got caught twice and they punished us twice. Simple as that. It's something to learn and to take away from the game. Sunday we have DC United, who are a good side. Although they have not had the best of starts this season, they are coming off a 4-1 win in DC and beginning to find a bit of rhythm. They have several key players, Middlesbrough fans will remember Jaime Moreno, who is a very experienced and seasoned forward. Everything DC does going forward runs through Moreno and he scored twice last week against Real Salt Lake. Then you have Marcelo Gallardo, a great player. An Argentina international, he's played for PSG and Monaco in France and is going to be handful. Very skillful, likes to float and pick up the ball where he can and has a very good goalscoring record as well. Fred, coming from Melbourne Victory, plays wide on the left, is skillful and was second last year in DC's assists, so another player we have to watch out for. For us, the week has been the same as always. We treat every week's preparation the same. Same mentality, same enthusiasm, same intensity. It's at home this week and no one should come into our backyard and take three points - and that's been stressed. Especially as a result this weekend is imperative!! The on-the-day pre-match preparation here in Colorado is no different to what I've experienced in England and Sweden. I get up in the morning around 8-9am. Have a good breakfast and hit the couch for some Premier League football! Here in the USA there are no pre-match meals with the team for home games, so I usually go and have a bite to eat for lunch with a few of the lads, come back home have an hour or so nap, then have another bite to eat at home before getting ready to go to the ground. It doesn't differ all that much from Europe, except we always had pre-match meals with the team home or away. The next Rapids reserve game is next weekend in Houston against the Dynamo, which I am looking forward to very much. I played the first half against the University of New Mexico on Wednesday morning. We won 4-2, which was a good little hit out for the lads who haven't seen much playing time lately. Talking of the Premiership, we have a couple of former Manchester United lads here - Terry Cooke and Jovan Kirovski. Of course, they were delighted to see United reach the Champions League final during the week. Terry and Jovi always enjoy seeing their old club do well, just like anyone. But it's Colin Clarke and Herc Gomez who are the die hard United fans - and it's great as there are alot of different clubs within the squad that the players support, so it makes for good banter. Cooke likes a good laugh and loves winding people up and Tommy McManus is fast making a name for himself. But I can't really share the pranks they get up to ... I don't know how much that would be appreciated by the lads! And for anyone who has a good idea of what goes on inside a professional soccer team's locker room, they would know exactly why I cant share!! What's going on around the world in soccer is always a hot topic inside the locker room. A lot of the boys running around the MLS have big ambitions about making a go of it in Europe. I've seen that Jozy Altidore, of New York Red Bulls, is again being mentioned with Spanish clubs ... Real Madrid, Villarreal, it's obvious he is a big talent. Personally, I don't know a whole lot about Jozy. I have watched him play a few times and heard what people have had to say about him. He is a big, strong lad - capable of changing a game very quickly and is a decent finisher. He is only young which is a huge advantage for him. As mentioned in my previous column, there are some very good young players here in the MLS coming out of some excellent college soccer programs. But I believe that the standard of football that the young players are playing every week in Europe is much higher than what they are getting here at college, therefore the younger players in Europe and at clubs like my old one, Southampton, are better prepared and more mature as footballers at that stage in their careers compared to the young lads over here. But as I've said, there's some great talent in the MLS. Let's hope it's the Rapids boys making the headlines after Sunday's big game.