Cummings changes his cleats, changes Rapids' fortunes
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — When Omar Cummings travel to Florida for Jamaica’s midweek friendly against Peru, he’ll take both pairs of boots that he wore in Saturday’s 3-0 victory for the Colorado Rapids against Chivas USA.
The two pairs of cleats have different stories.
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Cummings, by his own admission, played poorly in the first 45 minutes of the Chivas match. A change of boots at halftime, however, brought him out of the locker room a changed man. A piece of individual brilliance which turned the Chivas defense inside out in the 68th minute followed by a piece of calm finishing with ten minutes to go topped a brilliant second half for the Jamaican striker, whose powerful shot also resulted in Conor Casey’s opener.
“I thought why not change shoes?” Cummings said after the game. “A different attitude, take some more shots and try and score some goals.”
Cummings’ performance mirrored the team’s as a whole. The Rapids were lacking in energy in the first 45 minutes and found it difficult to break down a resolute Chivas defense. Casey’s goal early in the second half shifted the momentum, and the Rapids controlled proceedings comfortably enough in the second half.
Head coach Gary Smith gave credit to his team for coming up with a convincing victory after the first half’s frustrations.
“The group is confident in each other,” he said. “They hit the back of the net last week and they’ve done exactly the same tonight.” he said. “There is a core of players here who, when things aren’t going according to plan, they don’t just buckle.”
Smith paid particular praise to captain, Pablo Mastroeni, who was ill on Friday night and emerged bloodied with an IV in his arm in the locker room after the game. “That’s why he is our captain and was able to put in a display like that,” Smith said.
Still, the night belonged Cummings. Ironically, the stadium announcer didn’t even give Cummings as a choice for MVP as he asked fans to text in their thoughts on who should be chosen just minutes before his first goal.
There was little doubt at the end. Cummings has now scored three goals in the last two Rapids games, both 3-0 wins. It is the first time Colorado have posted back-to-back 3-0 wins since 2007.
The key seems to be a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, which has renewed and rejuvenated the partnership with Casey.
“Conor and I are playing closer together and we are enjoying playing with each other,” he said. “I kind of missed that relationship and it’s good to get it back.”