Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome Yannick Boli!

Well this rumor/news has been circulating for a few days (I first got wind of it about a week ago) but today the Rapids made it official.  Ivorian striker Yannick Boli was signed today.  Boli is 30 years old, born in France and came up in PSG's system, but chose to play for Cote' d'Ivorie, though it does not appear he's been officially capped yet.  He spent 11 years at PSG between his youth career and reserve work (including a short loan to Le Havre), eventually making 4 appearances for the senior team, scoring once.

Since leaving PSG after the 2009-2010 season he's been a bit of a journeyman, playing in France, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, and most recently China.  Mainly for second division clubs but some top level clubs.  He helped his last two teams to promotion to the top leagues in their countries.  One constant is that he's scored everywhere he's played (outside of that 13 game Le Havre loan).   Over the last 4 years, in Russia and China, he's scored 42 times in 86 games.

The Rapids gave him a one year deal using TAM to pay for it.  He instantly becomes the best striker on the roster and an automatic starter.  This may not have been the "flashy name" we hoped for but it was a steep increase in quality at the position.  Mason and Badji can fight over the second starter role with Jackson and, if necessary, McBean as backups.

Boli has actually spent about a week here in Denver already, though he reportedly flew to London over the weekend for part of his medical and probably for immigration paperwork.  He'll be available as soon as his paperwork clears and with no game for another week he should have plenty of time to get adjusted to altitude and integrated with the team.  I don't expect his paperwork to be back in time for the home opener next Saturday though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Not Dead Yet!

Sorry for going AWOL on opening weekend.  I picked up whatever bug was going around and it hit me Saturday night.  Today is the first time I managed to focus enough to write.  I assume everyone's seen the game and/or recaps by now so I won't spend much time reviewing the details.  Instead just some observations I had on the game:

  • We need a real striker like now (more on that later tonight/tomorrow)
  • This new system looks a lot like the old system after one game.  The Rapids played more long balls than any other team in the league this week, by a good deal
  • Jack Price has never scored a PK goal in his career, I'm not sure why he was the first choice to take one in this game
  • Niki Jackson showed the good and bad side of being a rookie.  His first touch was a goal, his last impact on the game was the weak foul that led to the winning goal
  • How about that assist from Blomberg?  If they had an assist of the week award, that would be it
  • Only one sub was used.  We used to give Pablo crap about that so its only fair to call out Hudson for the same thing.  That said, playing for the draw on the road meant that a sub wasn't really necessary, until it was too late
  • The defense on the first NE goal was laughable.  4 different Rapids had a play on the ball and all they managed to do was shield Howard's view of the shot.  Wynne in particular does not appear to be MLS starting caliber based on getting burned on all 3 goals we've given up in CCL/MLS play this season.
  • Some people think the final call was soft, and it was, but it wasn't out of line with what was being called throughout the game.  A good team adapts to the ref and doesn't commit the final foul
  • Howard wasn't to blame on either goal
Man of the Match: Johan Blomberg, for the assist mainly

Friday, March 9, 2018

British Led Rapids Attempt To Quell Revolution

The Rapids head to Boston led by their new British coach, Anthony Hudson, to take on the Revolution and their American coach, Brad Friedel.  Hopefully the Revolution haven't stolen Fort Ticonderoga's cannons this week and surprise us with a better than expected attack in (or near) Boston!  Game time for the season kickoff is an early 11:30am tomorrow.  Fleming and Balboa will have the call on Altitude 2, as the avs start at 1pm on Altitude.  Altitude 2 is channel 900 (sharing with Comcast Entertainment TV) on Comcast in the Denver market.  Centennial 38 is hosting their annual kickoff party at the Celtic for the game tomorrow.  Party starts at 10am at 14th & Market.

Player Availability:
OUT; D Kortne Ford (L MCL sprain)

SUSPENDED: D Axel Sjoberg (red card vs Seattle 2017)

F Joe Mason (he may be cleared by game time but since he just joined the team in Boston I assume he's not ready)

New England had both of their starting central defenders red carded last week and they have one midfielder out and one questionable.

This is a lot of guess work based on what we've seen in preseason and in the CCL.  We could see Wynne in stead of Watts, Boateng instead of Martinez, Gashi instead of McBean, or three or four other changes.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Badji.  The first goal we get this season will be the 900th in team history and I think Badji gets it tomorrow.  This won't be pretty soccer but I like our defense and the Revs lack of the same.  We get a win on the road to get our season off on the right foot.

Final Player Notes Before Season Kickoff

Two pieces of roster news before the season gets rolling tomorrow.  First, the obvious news.  Calvert, Dykstra, Perez, and Vines were loaned to Charlotte yesterday.  The only surprise here was picking which 4 of our reserves would make the trip to the East Coast.  For a while everyone expected Wynne to be one of them, but the news that he has a green card and doesn't count as an international means we didn't need to move him to free up an international spot.

Also yesterday reported that a new TAM striker signing is likely imminent.  This matches with some rumors that I've heard about a possible new player being around this weekend.  It sounds like this will be a significant striker signing but we won't be signing a 3rd DP this year.  We only have one international slot left so the only way to make two major signings is if one of them counts as a domestic and I haven't heard any rumors linking us to a domestic player.

Also one last note, Mason joined up with the team in Boston.  I don't expect him to be dressed tomorrow but with two weeks until our next game he could feature against KC.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Season Preview & Predictions

On to hopefully happier news, the start of the 2018 season!  Usually I do a preview breaking down what to expect this year but there's so much new about this team I don't really have a good idea of what to expect.  About the only thing I'm sure if is this organization is going to be more professional than perhaps at any point in its history.  That's not a knock on the early years, a startup league trying to establish the first pro league in 10 years in this country had to fly by the seat of its pants before the teams could become fully professional inside and out.  It is, however, a knock on the last 5 years or so.  We should see a huge change in the look and feel of the Rapids, even if the results on the field don't change noticeably.

Which leads me to this.  I don't think this team, as currently constructed, will make the playoffs.  There isn't enough firepower to keep ahead of 6 other teams in the standings.  I don't even think we can stay close and sign somebody midseason to get us over the hump.  I think a 7th/8th place finish is likely, missing the playoffs by 5 points, give or take.

So with that, on to the rest of my predictions:

  • Rapids finish with 43 points
  • The Golden Boot winner is not currently on the roster
  • Beyond a notable striker signing the Rapids make no other major changes to the roster during the season
  • We win the Rocky Mountain Cup in a surprise 2 goal win in the final game at the Dick
  • The USOC is as expected.  Beat our lower-league competition in the first round, then lose to a MLS side
  • The Rapids won't look outclassed for any length of time over the season but they will not look as good as the better teams.
  • Jack Price becomes a fan-favorite and leads MVP voting among the fans
  • Gashi is more 2016 Gashi than 2017 Gashi
  • Edgar Castillo is a one and done player but Joe Mason makes a permanent move to Colorado
  • The FO's decision to focus on lower-leagues in Europe while the rest of the league looked at South America will not be proven to be a bad decision, but it won't be a better decision than South America either
  • Fans will be unsettled, fairly, at the end of the year because we missed the playoffs, despite improvement