Thursday, May 25, 2017

Relegation and Champions League: Overseas Roundup

Back a few years ago when the Rapids had less to discuss on a daily or weekly basis I used to have a weekend roundup of the various overseas teams I follow.  With the fall-to-spring seasons ending I thought I'd at least do a season recap of the teams.

Blackburn Rovers (English Championship) - Rovers made the stunning choice of hiring Owen Coyle away from the Houston Dynamo before the season started and he immediately managed them into a relegation fight.  In mid-February after 33 games Blackburn realized its mistake and replaced Coyle with Tony Mowbray.  He led them to the best win percentage of any permanent manager since the Mark Hughes days but it wasn't enough as Rovers were relegated to League One based on a 2 worse goal differential than Nottingham Forest.  This coming season will be the first time Blackburn has been in the 3rd division since the 1979-80 season and only 6th season ever at that level (the other 5 were all in the 1970s).

Queen of the South (Scottish Championship) - The Doonhamers have "found their level" in Scotland, settling in as a mid-table Championship club that occasionally makes a run at the promotion playoffs.  We saw that again this year as a stable "drama-free" season led them to 6th place in the Championship, 9 points off the playoff pace.  The club probably hoped to be a little close to 4th place than they were but with Hibs (Hibernian) going up and Thistle (Inverness Caleadonian) coming down the league should be a bit easier next season.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (German Bundesliga) - Hoffenheim had probably the most successful season in their history.  They finished 4th in the Bundesliga, their highest ever finish, and were undefeated at home.  The 4th placed finish got them a spot in next year's Champions League qualifier playoff stage.  The winners at that stage go into the Champions League group stage, the losers go to the Europa League group stage.  They'll know their draw on August 4th with the two-legged playoff series played in mid-August.

Melbourne Victory (Australian A-League) - The Victory finished 2nd in the league this season while hated rivals Sydney FC ran away with the regular season, finishing 17 points ahead of the Victory running in first place wire-to-wire.  Both teams took advantage of their playoff byes to move easily into the final, where Sydney beat the Victory on penalty kicks.  The Victory will play in next year's AFC Champions League after their 2nd placed finish.

CD Tenerife (Spanish Segunda) - I saved Tenerife for last because their season isn't done yet.  Spain takes a longer winter break than most leagues so CDT still has 3 games left and is currently in 4th place in the division, which puts them in a promotion playoff spot.  Levante has already won the league and Girona could clinch the 2nd automatic promotion spot this weekend with the right results.  Tenerife is 4 points behind 3rd and 4 points ahead of 7th (the first non-playoff spot) so really they are looking at holding down 4th unless 3rd placed Getafe trips up.  Then there's a shot at promotion which would mean going through probably Cadiz and likely Getafe.

On my trip to England in March we spent a wonderful day in Chester where I was able to pick up a Chester FC scarf.  So I've been keeping an eye on them as well.  After a good start to the season the team went into free fall and finished just 2 points from the relegation spots in the English National League, the 5th rung of the ladder.

Here's the collection of scarves I had in England after my trips to Chester and Blackburn:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wheels Come Flying Off For Rapids


Just when you thought the Rapids couldn't get more embarrassing there were the 60th-80th minutes on Saturday nights.  If this were a college football game we'd be saying the Rapids Couged it.  Complete meltdown leading to a PK, red card, and going from 1-0 to 2-1 down.  Going through some of the "highlights":

  • The lineup with players like Hamilton, Gatt, Ford, da Fonte, and Calvert makes me think the idea that we're playing for 2081 has more behind it than they want to admit. 
  • I'm not sure what Andre Blake was looking at on Calvert's goal but he just watched the ball as it sailed by him into the net.  Nice strike by Calvert but most keepers at least make a play on the ball, some save it.
  • Glad to see Sjoberg back but he could and probably should have been called for a PK in the first half by shoving Sapong down at the top of the box.
  • The moment we scored we started time wasting, leading to at least two warnings from the center ref.  This becomes important later.
  • Lots of talk from some fans about the PK.  Its a clear PK, the ball hits his hand at least two times and arguably a third.  There's even a case to be made that Ford could have been red carded for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity but that would have been harsh IMO.
  • Calvert lost his mind for 60 seconds and it cost him a red card.  Here's the text from FIFA's explanation of Rule 5.  Calvert broke all 3 of these rules in less than 60 seconds.  The dual yellow cards were absolutely justified:
    • "as soon as the referee has authorized doctors to enter the field of play, the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he shall be cautioned for unsporting behavior"
    • "irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorized to allow a player to re-enter the field of play"
    • "when the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines"
  • When Howard builds a wall he's probably expecting more than one player to jump.  Sjoberg did his job.  Doyle tried to get fancy and time his jump perfectly and missed.  Ford raised up on his tiptoes but never left the ground.  The ball went over Ford's head and into the net.
  • Once again, as we have in 6 of 8 of our losses, the opposition had equal or more goals than we had shots on goal.  In this case Philly had 2 goals to our 1 shot on goal.  Pitiful.
We've got 4 in a row at home at home plus the Open Cup match.  Realistically to get this season back on track we need 3 wins, a draw, and we should beat whatever USL team we play in the Open Cup.  Anything less and this season will be all but officially lost.

Man of the Match:  For this mess?  Please.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rapids Hope To Split Union

Two weeks ago this game looked like a chance for the Rapids to pick up points.  Philly had as bad a start to the season as Colorado did and you had to like the chances of at least getting a point on the road.  In the last 3 games though Philly has picked up 9 points to the Rapids 3 and suddenly this game looks much harder.  Kickoff in Chester is at 5pm MDT tomorrow and the game is on Altitude.

The Rapids are still without Boateng while Sjoberg is travelling with the team and could be used at some point.  I doubt he'll start but we could see him as a sub.  Otherwise everyone should be available.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  Prove me wrong Rapids.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rapids Smoked By Fire

Back to the animated gif recaps!

Rapids start with the same 4-4-2 they used successfully on Saturday

Chicago scores 15 minutes in after dominating the game

Rapdis get no shots on target in the first half:

57th minute and and shoddy defense leads to another Fire goal

63rd minute, Josh Gatt and Sam Hamilton, getting his first professional minutes, sub in
Yes, I made a Broadway reference, try not to faint

70th minute, Doyle in for Badji

74th minute, Fire get a 3rd

Game ends 3-0, Rapids have a total of 3 shots on goal

USOC Draw

Today the draw was made for the 4th round of the U.S. Open Cup, the round the Rapids enter.  They were drawn to host the winner off the Colorado Springs Switchbacks - Oklahoma City Energy 3rd round match.  If the Switchbacks win it will be the 3rd year in a row that the Rapids host them at home in the 4th round.  Colorado Springs hosts OKC on May 31st with the winner coming to Commerce City on either June 13th or 14th.  Exact date, time, and ticket info will be announced shortly.