Tommy Smith looking to ‘stick to the game plan’ and keep Johnny Russell quiet

Editorial – Colorado Rapids take on Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park tonight. It will be their second meeting of the season. The two sides played to a 2-2 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park previously after the Rapids took a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes.

Tommy Smith looking to ‘stick to the game plan’ and keep Johnny Russell quiet

Coming into this match, the teams are a tale of two cities. Sporting KC are top of the MLS Western Conference. The defense and offense are clicking and they’ve played well at home of late. On the other side, the Rapids are still trying to put it all together and are struggling to play a consistent 90 minutes.

Last Word on Soccer sat down with defender Tommy Smith, who wore the Captain’s armband last Sunday, to talk about the Rapids side of things.

“When we stick to the plan, we have success. It’s clear as day,” Smith told Last Word on Soccer. “It’s down to the players as individuals and collectively as a group to take responsibility for our performances on the pitch,” he added when asked about the team’s struggles finishing off games.

Smith takes responsibility for how the team is going to improve on their recent form, even with Captain Tim Howard back in the lineup.

“I always go out and try and be a leader whether I’ve got the armband on or not. It’s important that there is more than one leader.”

The Rapids had a fantastic first half against Sporting at home earlier in the season, burning them on the wings and throwing numbers in the box to create chances. They fell off in the final 10 minutes though, allowing Kansas City to get two late goals and get a draw.

“The first match against them showed what we can do early on. Then we went off the game plan and let them get back into the game. It’s important for us to be consistent in our performances and not take out foot off the gas.
We’ve thrown away too many points this season,” Smith said.

Prior to coming to MLS, Tommy Smith spent his entire career with Ipswitch Town FC. He and SKC danger man Johnny Russell met many times in the English Championship, as Russell joined Derby County in 2013. Russell was held scoreless in their first MLS meeting.

“Played against him a few times. A very talented football. He’s obviously one of their important players. But I think last we played against them we kept him fairly quiet. Hopefully, we can do the same thing this time around.”

If the Rapids are able to ‘stick to the plan’ for 90 minutes and manage the spacing well against Russell on the wing, they’ve got a chance at a result tonight.