Monday, February 19, 2018

Game On!


Well the season is finally here.  On what will be a very cold night with temperatures with wind chill in the single digits the Rapids face Toronto in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League.  Kickoff tomorrow night is at 8pm and I expect me and about 100 of my closest C38 comrades will be about the only fans in the stadium.  Those of you smart enough to stay out of the cold can find the game on Univision Deportes at 11pm, streamed live from the Univision Deportes website, or supposedly streamed live with English commentary on go90.

New coach, new players, and no injury report means I'm not going to try to predict a starting XI.  We'll be playing our new 3-5-2 and our lack of strikers means its likely guys like Hairston, Badji, Castillo, and McBean will start but outside of that its really up in the air.

Toronto plays a 5-3-2 (really the main difference between a 5-3-2 and a 3-5-2 is how aggressive the wing backs get) so the midfield is going to be really crowded.  Expect a lot of playing to the outside to find space.  They'll be missing a couple of bigger players due to injury and impending fatherhood so we might see an odd set of lineups from both teams.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  I think Colorado is going to play conservatively, knowing they don't yet have all the pieces to get into a shootout.  The cold weather will only add to that as nobody is going to want to risk injury.  TFC will be fairly happy to go home without a deficit so this may not be the most exciting soccer tomorrow night.

Rapids Announce Two Signings

In today's CCL press conference Anthony Hudson confirmed two signings that after this past weekend were no surprise.  Joe Mason and Wolves have agreed to terms with the Rapids and he will be joining the team pending receipt of his paperwork (so not in time for tomorrow's match, probably not in time for the second leg next week).  No details have been released (the team hasn't even sent out the official press announcement yet) but based on rumors I'm assuming its a loan with an option to buy.

The Rapids are also signing Charlotte's Enzo Martinez, which was expected based on his play in training camp.  It was confirmed today he holds a green card and will not need an international slot (Martinez is Uruguayan but grew up in South Carolina).  As part of the signing the Rapids are sending their 4th round pick in 2021 to FSL as they own Martinez's rights, having drafted him originally in 2012.

With that the roster looks like this so far.  It sounds like draftee Niki Jackson came back to Denver with the team so he might be signed soon as well.  We have 4 open roster slots and we're 2 over on internationals.

Signed Players:
* = international
HG = homegrown
DP = designated player

GK Andrew Dykstra
GK Tm Howard - DP
GK Zac MacMath
D Edgar Castillo
D Kip Colvey
D Kortne Ford - HG
D Marlon Hairston
D Eric Miller
D Axel Sjoberg
D Tommy Smith*
D Jared Watts
D Danny Wilson*
D Deklan Wynne*
M Bismark Adjei-Boateng*
M Stefan Aigner*
M Michael Azira
M Johan Blomberg*
M Shkelzen Gashi* - DP
M Sam Hamilton
M Enzo Martinez
M Ricardo Perez - HG
M Jack Price*
M Dillon Serna - HG
F Dominique Badji*
F Caleb Calvert - HG
F Joe Mason*
F Jack McBean

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New Rumor And Final Preseason Game Wrap-Up

Interesting rumor reported by Steven Goff tonight:
Mason is under contract with Wolves through 2018 so any loan with an option to buy would have to buy him out of his final year.  He's a serial loanee, having spent time on multiple loans to Bolton when signed with Cardiff and most recently he just got back from Burton Albion while signed for Wolves.  That said, those are all Championship (or better) teams, so the quality is there.  I'm not sure this is a the "big striker" signing we need but he would be a good signing as a secondary striker to push Badji.  Regardless we need some sort of striker signing so its good to see something on that front.

Catching up from earlier in the week the Rapids played Phoenix Rising FC in Arizona for their final preseason game before coming home to prep for Tuesday's Champions League match.  The lineup for the game:

Apparently no subs for this one, at least for the Rapids.  Phoenix subbed out the whole lineup after about 60 minutes.  Both Rapids goals came after that, both headers, one by Badji and one by Smith off a corner from Price.  Trialist Enzo Martinez looked really good in this one and I wouldn't be shocked to hear he's been signed before the CCL match.  Somebody will need to tell him the 38 he's wearing in camp has special meaning though.  Jack Price bossed the game around but did had a nasty tackle that probably could have been red.  Regardless he's already on his way to being a fan favorite.

Next up is the CCL match on Tuesday against Toronto.  With the forecast though (high of 12, low of 2, and snow showers) I wouldn't be shocked if they reschedule it for Wednesday when its supposed to be sunny and not threat-of-frostbite cold.  We'll see what Monday brings.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rapids Trade General Allocation Money For International Slot

Today Colorado sent $100K of GAM to KC for an international slot for the 2018 season.  An expected move as we were two over our total of slots.  Now if Wynne goes on loan to Charlotte or somebody like Badji gets a green card we'll be in compliance on the international front.

Some fans thought this might be a precursor to finally signing a striker, but no, this was just something that needed to happen based on our existing signings.  I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact we won't sign a significant striker until the summer window.  The one possibility is that the EFL season (everything under the EPL in England) ends 2 days before the window closes so if we're targeting somebody who doesn't make the promotion playoffs they could come over in May.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Preseason Results and Players Heading Out

Time to catch up on the last couple of preseason games, but first a couple of pieces of player news.  Draftee Alan Winn was signed yesterday by Nashville SC of the USL.  Nashville is coached by former Rapids manager (and MLS Cup winner) Gary Smith and also features two members of that Cup winning team, Kosuke Kimura and Matt Pickens.  The Rapids now have only two draft picks in camp, GK Thomas Olsen (who's path to a roster spot was presumably blocked with the acquisition of Dykstra) and F Niki Jackson, who will feature later in this post.

Today the Rapids announced they had loaned Miked Da Fonte to Phoenix Rising FC of the USL.  The Rapids announced when they made their year-end roster moves that Da Fonte would be loaned out for 2018, the last year of his contract, so I'm going to remove him from the roster list now as while on loan he doesn't count against roster or salary caps.  Its safe to say we've seen the last of him in Colorado.

Now, on to the games.  I actually never got around to writing up last weekend's scrimmage with the KC, so lets start there.  These lineups are my best guesses at formation based on the box scores:

The starting XI:

KC scored twice on this lineup in the first half.  The second half lineup looked like:


Winn would get the last 15 minutes of the game.  This lineup played a scoreless half.

After a quick trip back to Colorado to pick up some new players and do laundry the team was back in Arizona for a game against UPSL side Sporting AZ yesterday.  The starting group:

Good to see signings Price and Smith with the team now.  This group would go 60 minutes and score twice, first from Castillo in the opening 2 minutes and then McBean got one 25 minutes in.  At the 60th minute mark the whole lineup swapped out for this group:


This group would also play 60 minutes (for a total of 120) and they ran rampant over the lower league side, as you would expect.  Calvert, Aigner, and Perez all got goals and Blomberg and Jackson each got 2, for a final score of 9-0.  Hard to draw a whole lot from a game against that level of competition but the team did what it was expected to do, so that's a good thing.

The next match is Wednesday against Phoenix Rising FC (now featuring Mike Da Fonte!) at 6pm and it will be streamed online, if you don't have Valentines Day plans and you're not watching the Olympics.

Signed Players:
* = international
HG = homegrown
DP = designated player

GK Andrew Dykstra
GK Tm Howard - DP
GK Zac MacMath
D Edgar Castillo
D Kip Colvey
D Kortne Ford - HG
D Marlon Hairston
D Eric Miller
D Axel Sjoberg
D Tommy Smith*
D Jared Watts
D Danny Wilson*
D Deklan Wynne*
M Bismark Adjei-Boateng*
M Stefan Aigner*
M Michael Azira
M Johan Blomberg*
M Shkelzen Gashi* - DP
M Sam Hamilton
M Ricardo Perez - HG
M Jack Price*
M Dillon Serna - HG
F Dominique Badji*
F Caleb Calvert - HG
F Jack McBean

Unsigned Draftees:
GK Thomas Olsen
F Niki Jackson

Trialists:
D Joel Johnson
M Enzo Martinez