COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Gary Smith may just put a man marker on MVP candidate David Ferreira in Sunday’s MLS Cup.
At least, that’s what the Colorado coach said in a bit of tongue-in-cheek posturing during a teleconference on Monday. But marking Ferreira is no laughing matter for the Rapids, who are seeking the first MLS title in franchise history against FC Dallas at BMO Field in Toronto on Sunday (8:30 pm ET, ESPN, Galavisión).
The Rapids know that the bulk of Dallas’ creativity stems from the Colombian midfielder and that stopping him will be key to preventing the opposition from creating too many chances. The Rapids’ defensive midfield pairing of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz will have their work cut out trying to contain Ferreira from scoring or creating opportunities for others.
[inline_node:323130]Larentowicz, who scored both goals against Dallas in the Rapids’ 2-2 tie on the road in Texas on Oct. 9, knows that it will be more important than ever that he, Mastroeni and the Rapids’ defense are on the same page to counter Ferreira’s threat.
“He’s an awesome player who likes to show up in the cracks,” Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com this week. “He’s fairly diminutive but tricky and, as soon as you lose him, he’s likely to turn up and score. The communication between me, Pablo and the center backs is going to be very important.”
If Smith does go down the man-marker route, it may just be Larentowicz who does it. Smith has appeared to rule out the possibility of Mastroeni playing such a role, as he said during the media conference call that he likes his club captain to get forward more.
The concern is that playing the man-marker option limits the Rapids’ own play.
“His decision and quality of passing is instrumental in what they achieve,” Smith said this week. “He is the difference in their team. He makes them an MLS Cup-winning team, so there is a case for putting a man to man marker on him. If you do that, you take something away from your own team. How are we going to still be effective?”