Rush had remained unbeaten for the first half of the United Premier League(UPSL) season, coming into the match against FC Boulder. The first time these two teams met in the Rush home opener Rush defeated Boulder 2-0, this time around, the script was flipped.
Rush was light on some of their key players with three out of the four starting defenders being unavailable for this match. The offense also took a hit with forward Nick Blanco out with a red card and midfielder Ciaran O’Brien unavailable as well.
Boulder came out with hard pressure which put Rush on their heels early in the match. Rush regained their footing and competed in the match but Boulder was able to put their chances away where Rush was unable to find the net.
Rush will look to bounce back from a uninspired performance against FC Greely. This will be a critical match as they have their Open Cup match on May 10th where they will need to be in top form.
I was able to chat with FC Boulder head coach Don Harmon about the win and what it means for their season.
SoccerNation: How would you describe your season so far now that we are at the midway point?
Harmon: At the beginning of the season we had plenty of training and a couple scrimmages but we didn’t know what to expect going into our first couple of games. The group we put together had a lot of new pieces and we have been working hard to establish our identity and consistency. Inconsistency has been our story. We are looking forward to putting together a strong second half of the season and showing our quality.
SoccerNation: What was the biggest difference in game play in this match with Rush as opposed to the first match?
Harmon: We were a little sharper in the final third in the second match. Shailer Thomas did really well against us in the first game. He made a huge save in the second half Sunday with the save to his left on the John Ingham’s shot. After our performance against Colorado Springs FC we came together and raised our level in training throughout the week and I felt we brought that passion and intensity into the game with us.
SoccerNation: This was the first loss for Rush this UPSL season, what were you able to do different to get the W this time around?
Harmon: Our back line has been working hard to get things corrected. Alex Dickerson has been a force and he was at his best. Alex and Joey Vella our GK kept us organized. Alex had great communication and led us with his decisiveness Sunday. He partnered really well with Kevin Schulte. I think our midfield made it hard on them to transition and play into their forwards. Michael Jordahl has been putting in a ton of energy pressing in midfield with Jack Huettel and Soren Frykholm. Maintaining that shut out and making our opportunities count was the difference this go round.
SoccerNation: You have a very quality side and from the games this season, you gave Rush the most problems in both matches. What problems does Rush present for their opponents and what was your strategy coming into this match?
Harmon: I think we’ve got very strong competition in our conference from all the teams. We have a small advantage because we have open cup qualifying history vs Rush. Rush are a tricky team to figure out. They can attack from every position and play a ‘total football’ dutch type of game where players move all over the field. Rush will punish you for the small mistakes and exploit your disorganization. Rush is calm on the ball so we have to stay disciplined and track runners off the ball. We have become better communicators as a team and it really helps us funnel defensively. Now that we have won and lost together our chemistry and familiarity has improved. Recognizing what our opponents are doing and matching their work rate until we get back on the ball is vital. Defensive work rate and possession with a purpose has led us to success.
SoccerNation: Do you feel like this win could help give you some momentum for the back half of your season?
Harmon: Definitely, we talked about it all week long. On Thursday we established some new goals for the second part of the season. There is still a lot of soccer to be played and we know what we have to do. There is not a lot of points separating the teams in our conference standings. It’s a very strong conference and I hope we remain represented in the AP National Power Rankings all year. Rush were sitting in 5th before this weeks games so it means a lot getting a result against them.