Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rapids, FSL, Scoreless in Final AZ Game

On Friday the Rapids favored their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals in their final game of their Arizona trip. Unfortunately the matchup looked more interesting on paper than in real life as neither team could score. Here are the lineups for the Rapids by half.

* = Unsigned trialist

First Half:
Kimura - Baudet - Holody - Moor
Smith - LaBauex* - Ballouchy - Smith
Cummings - Hodges*

Second Half:
Moor - Dalby - Holody - Valentino
De La Cruz* - LaBauex* - LaBrocca - Lorei*
Cummings - Akpan

I got some impressions of th game from a third-hand source. He said the Smith - Kimura combination on the right was very strong, Akpan was unimpressive, and in the first half we had all the control.

My biggest concern is that in 3 games in AZ we scored 1 goal, on a PK. This seems like the same thing we saw at the end of last season where we only scored 7 goals in 7 games, and 4 of those were by PK. Obviously Casey was with the Nats and Clark is still recovering from his aCL tear, but we need to have some sort of offense ASAP.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rapids lose to LA in Arizona

The Rapids faced the Galaxy in Arizona this afternoon. They lost 2-0 on a pair of first half goals. For the second game in a row the opposition scored int he first 10 minutes, which isn't a positive sign. Significant halftime changes again. Here are the lineups:

* = Unsigned trialist

First Half:

Kimura - Baudet - Holody - Moor
Smith - LaBrocca - Ballouchy - Noonan
Cummings - Hodges*

Second Half:

Kimura - Dalby - Holody - Valentino
Thompson - Ballouchy - LaBauex* - Lorei*
Schunk - Akpan

Still no signs of Palguta and Earls, which is unusual. Possible injuries? Larentowicz, Clark, and Pablo are also MIA but as I discussed yesterday that's not as surprising due to age and injury status.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Actual Results!

Sorry for the lack of posting in the lat week or so. I'm a bit of an Olympics junkie and I've been distracted. Other than figure skating if Olympics are on, I'm watching it. Yes, even curling believe it or not. Some rough outings for the American skips, moving them off of last rocks was probably a good move.

Today though the Rapids played their first preseason game. They're down in Casa Grande, AZ and faced the Columbus Crew today. The teams tied at 1 apiece, with Columbus scoring in the 4th minute and Cummings equalizing on a PK in the 19th minute. We used 18 different players with all the subs coming at half:

* = Unsigned trialist

1st Half:
Moor - Baudet - Murillo - Valentino
Smith - Labrocca - LaBauex* - Thompson
Cummings - Hodges*

2nd Half:
Kimura - Holody - Murillo - Valentino
Thompson - Dalby - LaBauex* - Lorei*
Schunk - Akpan

(BTW, if anyone knows a good widget or something to display lineups in a blog let me know)

As you can see, Valentino is back from Scandinavia. Clark, Larentowicz, and Mastroeni are the big names that didn't play today. Casey is at National Team camp. I'm guessing with a game tomorrow against LA and a game on Friday against FSL Clark and Larentowicz, coming off of injuries, were given a break today. The other interesting names that doesn't appear are Palguta and new signing Danny Earls. Palguta is competing for the open center and left back spots, while Earls is competing for the left back spot. It will be interesting to see who gets time tomorrow on the back line. Its very early but based on these lineups I think that Moor is beating out Kimura for the right back slot. Kimura's a favorite of mine so I'm a little disappointed by that, maybe Kosuke moves into a super sub role this season.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Preseason News and Notes

Surprisingly quiet in Rapids-land given that today makes 5 weeks to the season opener. Still a few things have popped up.
  • The Rapids will be giving Jamaican international striker Devon Hodges a 10-day trial while their in Arizona next week. The Rapids need more forward depth, though for international callups when Jamaica is playing it doesn't help. Still I'm glad to see us looking at other CONCACAF nations to find players.
  • Another Rochester Rhino, right mid Andy Lorei is rumored to be signing. The article makes it sound like he'll get a dev contract or a minimum salary contract. Again we need depth ont he wings, so that is a step in the right direction if it happens. That would be 3 Rhinos we've signed since Steve Guppy has joined the team from Rochester. Maybe we should just make them a partner team?
  • John Ireland re-joins the team as fitness coach. Ireland was the fitness coach under Tim Hankinson
  • The Rapids will play Columbus, LA, and FSL next week while in Arizona. Good thing I don't live down there any more or I'd have to take the whole week off!
  • This season April and October home games will be mid-afternoon games. I prefer evening games even in the colder months, but maybe this will help with attendance.
All for now. If there is any concrete news about these possible signings I'll post again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rapids Sign Two

The Rapids announced the long-rumored signing of two internationals today. Danny Earls (pictured) from Rochester and Oscar Murillo from Deportes Quindio of Colombia. Earls is a left-sided player that has been mainly a left back but can also play left midfield. Murillo is a center back.

Both count as internationals which puts us at 6, I think the Rapids limit is 7 though. Also I was told by Paul Bravo that both Kimura and Cummings were close to getting their green cards but they didn't expect them in time for the expansion draft in November. That tells me there's a very good chance neither of them will count as an international by the time the season starts.

With these signings the Rapids have 19 senior players under contract, 5 development players (including on-loan Valentino), and Akpan was signed to a contract by the league before he was drafted but I'm not sure if its a senior contract or a development one. Last year the roster limits were 20 senior and 4 developmental players. If Akpan got a senior contract and Valentino stays on loan all season then the Rapids are right at that number. With a few exceptions contracts in MLS aren't guaranteed until mid-season, so there's still room for the other draftees or any trialists to claim a spot, but its going to be tough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Updated Roster

With some of the moves and rumored moves I figured I'd update the roster list for player knwon or believed to be in camp.

Under Senior Contract:
Matt Pickens

Julian Baudet
Kosuke Kimura
Drew Moor
Scott Palguta

Mehdi Ballouchy
Colin Clark
Greg Dalby
Nick LaBrocca
Jeff Larentowicz
Pablo Mastroeni
Jamie Smith
Wells Thompson

Conor Casey
Omar Cummings
Facundo Diz
Pat Noonan

Under Contract (type unknown):
Andre Akpan

Under Development Contract:
Steward Ceus

Michael Holody

Ciaran O'Brien

Ross Schunk

Drafted but Unsigned:
Chad Borak

Chris Cutshaw
Ross LaBauex

On Loan:
Rob Valentino

Reportedly On Trial and/or Signed:
Danny Earls
Unnamed Colombian Defender

Not counting the on-loan Valentino that's 27 players for a 24 man roster. Still some cuts to be made. By position (roughly):

Goalkeepers: 2
Defenders: 8
Midfielders: 11
Forwards: 6

If I had to guess I'd expect at least one forward and one midfielder not to make it out of camp. The 3rd player to be cut will probably also be a midfielder but it might be a defender.

Rapids trade Harden to Toronto

The Rapids have just announced that they've dealt Ty Harden to Toronto for their 3rd Round pick next season. Harden was one of many center backs currently in camp with the Rapids and obviously surplus to our needs. We acquired him by giving our 2009 3rd round pick to LA, so we essentially broke even on the deal.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Preseason Schedule

The Rapids made the rumors official today. Besides training at the Dick the Rapdis will be taking tow trips in preseason. From February 21st through the 27th they'll go to where this blog started, the Valley of the Sun. Well actually Casa Grande, AZ. They are going to scrimmage against other MLS teams there. Already confirmed to be training down in AZ are FSL, Seattle, and Vancouver of D-II (until next year when they join MLS). Of course they waited until I left Arizona to start training there. ;)

After returning to Denver for a week the team will head to London to use Arsenal's training facilities from March 7th - 14th. While there they are expected to play against the reserve sides of a couple of EPL teams. The rumored names are Arsenal, Aston Villa, and Tottenham. Arsenal is 29.9% owned by Rapids owner Stan Kroenke and are a partner club of the Rapids.

Finally they'll return home for the Charity Shield match at the Dick against the Sounders on March 19th.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2010 Schedule Released

MLS announced the 2010 schedule today. For the first time the teams will play each other twice each, once home and once away. The league will shut down from June 11th-24th for the group stage of the World Cup. Of course this year will be our first look at the Philadelphia Union, this year's expansion team. Here are some of the highlights of the Rapids schedule.
  • The Rapids first home game is April 3rd, and unlike last year they're only back on the road for one game before returning to the Dick.
  • Games are fairly evenly split home and away, never more than a 2 game home stand or a 2 game road trip at any point.
  • We have 2 games in 4 days at the beginning of May. At San Jose and then hosting LA.
  • There's also a stretch of 3 games in 8 days in the middle of July. Hosting KC on the Weekend, Philly in mid-week, and then traveling to Seattle the next weekend.
  • Every other game is a week apart with the only weekend off (not including the World Cup break) being the second weekend in May after our Wednesday game hosting LA.
  • We start the season at Chivas on a Friday, the only other non-weekend games are the two home Wednesday games mentioned above. We host Toronto and NY on Sundays, and play at Seattle on Sunday. The other 24 games are Saturday games.
  • The Sunday NY game is 4th of July. The Saturday game in NY is on 9/11. Odd how that worked out.
  • The game in San Jose on May 1st was originally listed as our only ESPN2 game, but now it just shows up as a Direct Kick game. We're on FSC 4 times and Telefutura 4 times.
  • Between 4/10 and 5/22 we have 5 of 8 on the road. Between 7/17 and 8/7 we have 4 of 5 at home.
  • Our final stretch could be brutal. We at FSL on 9/25, then face DC at home road trips to Dallas and LA, and finish the season with FSL at home on 10/16.
  • With the balanced schedule this year there's not a real weak area of our schedule. Probably the easiest stretch is in July when we play NY, at Toronto, KC, and Philly. 4 teams that weren't in the playoffs last year.
  • Most of the home games do not have their times set, while the rest of the games in the league all have kickoff times. They much be making a final decision out at DSG Park. Maybe thinking about going back to 7pm start times instead of 7:30?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentino heading to Norway

As I mentioned in my training camp post we have 5 roster DEV players and only 4 slots. Well we seem to be taking steps to deal with that. The Rapids have announced that Rob Valentino is on loan to Norwegian Second Division side Lov-Ham Football. Early rumors had him on trial there, not loan, so I'm guessing this is a first step to possibly getting a contract there. The length of the loan is unknown, and Valentino would still count against our roster cap if its not a full-season loan (At least according to last year's rules). I'm willing to bet though that one way or another we've seen the last of Rob Valentino in 2010.

In other news:
  • The 2010 schedule will be officially released tomorrow at noon Denver time.
  • The Danny Earls signing was confirmed to me by a source in the Rapids FO

Monday, February 1, 2010

Preseason News and Notes

A few news and notes coming out of the Rapids camp.

  • Depending on who you talk to the Rapids are either trying out or have signed Danny Earls from Rochester. Earls was one of the first names linked with Colorado when the news that Steve Guppy was joining the team as coach broke. He's a left back who can also get up the field and play left wing. With the departure of Harvey the Rapids have a hole at left back, so this seems like a good match.
  • Multiple players have mentioned, either on Twitter or to fans, that the Rapids will make a pre-season trip to London. Presumably they'll be using Arsenal facilities and they will be playing some combination of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa. I would guess that those games will feature mainly reserves from the EPL sides, but maybe Casey and Omar will get a chance to try to beat Big Bad Brad Friedel if they play Villa.
  • The Rapids tweeted that they expect to release the schedule this week, and an unconfirmed report is that the league will unveil the full schedule at noon MST on Wednesday.
That's all for now!

EDIT; OK, I lied. Wewantrapidman is reporting that the Earls signing and an additional signing of a Colombian center back who's family name is Morrillio, maybe not spelled quite that way, will be announced soon.