Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rapids Win First USOC Game In 5 Years

Using a lineup of mainly reserves Colorado won their first true U.S. Open Cup game in 5 years 3-1 over the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The starting XI was:

Hill - Akpan - Edu
Thompson - Henao - Castrillon
Zapata - Marshall - Palguta - Freeman

The goals came from all 3 of our starting strikers.  Edu started the scoring off a PK in the 17th minute.  For the second game in a row Wells Thompson earned the PK.  Akpan doubled the lead in the 33rd minute off an assist from Thompson and Hill settled the game in the 90th minute with Akpan getting the assist.  In the 92nd minute Tampa "scored" their only goal, but replays make it appear the ball never completely crossed the line.  Ceus was not pleased with the goal card and earned a yellow card for his dissent to go with the yellow Wells earned earlier in the game.

The Rapids now move on to play Sporting Kansas City in KC next Tuesday at 6:30pm MDT.  The winner will get a spot in the quarter-finals.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Colorado Head To Tampa For USOC 3rd Round

Tonight the Rapids are in Tampa to face the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 3rd Round of the U.S. Open Cup.  If Colorado wins they will travel to the winner of the Orlando - Kansas City game next Tuesday for the quarter-finals.  Game time tonight is 5:30pm MDT and there will be at least a Twitter feed, possibly a video stream, at the Rowdies website.

Given our injury woes a strong roster left for Tampa on Sunday.  12 of the 14 players who played against Montreal on Saturday went on the trip, with only Matt Pickens and Jeff Larentowicz staying behind.  The full travel roster:

GK: Ceus, Joyce
DF: Moor, Marshall, Freeman, Kimura, Zapata, Ababio, Palguta
MF: Castrillon, Rivero, Thompson, Hill, Henao, Nane
FW: Edu, Akpan, Cascio

That means, outside of Pickens, Ginger, and the injured players, the only members of the roster that didn't travel were Armstrong, Yamada, and Amarikwa.  The first two are very young players that are long-term projects and the 3rd we know has been dealing with a personal issue and is also under evaluation by the team.  I'd say that's a pretty solid travel roster.

The real key is who the starting XI is.  If its a strong one we should be able to beat Tampa for our first actual USOC win in 5 years.  If its mainly reserves then we might see results like we've seen in the last few seasons, a good effort but eventually a loss.  Until I have a better idea of how Pareja is going to prioritize the USOC I'm not going to make any more of a prediction than that.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Refs Give Rapids A Gift Of 3 Points

From Friday's game preview:
Prediction: 0-0 draw.  I expect some ugly soccer tomorrow.  One team is an expansion team and one team is missing up to 7 starters.  There will be a lot of tentative, conservative play and no scoring.
OK, so I was way off on the scoreline, but I was right about the ugly soccer.  The less-than-stellar play resulted in a combined 5 goals (the last with some help from the ref).  In general while the game was entertaining, it was not quality play.

As the Rapids have been in the habit of late they gave up an early goal.  some nice passing from Montreal found Bernier free in the box with Koz on the wrong side of him.  Pickens made himself as big as he could but couldn't stop the shot and the Impact had a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes.  It wouldn't last long though as 4 minutes later Wells Thompson (yes, Wells Thompson) was taken down int eh box for a PK and Larentowicz stepped up to level the score.

Colorado kept the pressure up and were rewarded with the best goal of the night.  In the 39th minute Rivero was fouled by Bernier just beyond the center circle.  Martin played a great free kick ball deep into the box and Drew Moor was able to head it inside the far post to give the home team the lead heading into the break.  Alas, much like the start of the game the Rapids would give up an early goal int he 2nd half.  Once again Marshall was caught in no-man's land not marking anybody, and Moor, in his haste to try to compensate, blew the offside trap keeping Wenger onside for the goal.

In the 13 minutes after Montreal leveled the score Tyrone Marshall picked up not one but two solid yellow cards, leaving the team a man down for the final 29 minutes.  At this point we saw the team get conservative to preserve the draw, with Palguta being subbed in for Akpan and Henao getting his first action in Colorado by coming in for Wells Thompson.  Somehow this plan backfired on Montreal, not Colorado, but not without controversy.  In the 83rd minute Rivero was once again fouled in the attacking half.  He played another great ball in that Scott Palguta headed towards goal but the Montreal GK pushed it onto the crossbar.  The ball bounced twice on the crossbar, then was pushed back into the field of play by the wind.  Castrillon was waiting when it fell off the bar and headed it home for the game-winner.

Or at least, that's how it looked.  Upon further review here it seems that the Rapids had help from an incompetent referee.  Watching that highlight you can see the referee signal for a corner kick before the ball comes off the bar and if the audio is synced up (always questionable with highlights) you can hear him blow the whistle at the same time.  A second later Castrillon heads the ball into the goal and the ref changes his call from a corner kick to a goal.  If that highlight audio is accurate though, play stopped when he blew the whistle so the goal can't be counted.  This is such a significant mistake that, if accurate, Montreal has grounds to protest the game and request a replay.  Now this is MLS, so I fully expect the league to look the other way and let the result stand, but Montreal really does have a legitimate gripe if that audio is accurate.

My key to look for was the ability of our makeshift lineup to work together.  Not really, but we did enough to get a win.  Still this was really ugly soccer and we desperately need our starters back.

Other Observations:
  • Marshall's yellow cards were really unnecessary.  He really shouldn't be starting at this point.
  • Drew Moor, despite being partially at fault for the second goal, was my MOTM until midway through writing this review.  He was great on the backline, plus got a goal.
  • Ginger Ninja was another candidate, and that's not even considering the great PK he took.
  • I'm not sure anyone but Akpan realized Akpan was playing in this game.  He was pretty much invisible.
  • I was shocked to see Akpan starting over Hill.  Hill has earned a start at this point, at least until C + C Goal Factory is healthy.
  • Interesting that the lineup was announced as a 4-3-3 with Thompson at striker.  I expected a 4-4-2 with Thompson in the midfield.
  • Hunter Freeman is settling into the left back role.  I think Zapata is probably back to being a backup.
  • Unless Kimura's poor play continues.  Everyone knows I love Koz, but he has struggled this season.  I'm hoping this off-time will help him get his game back to where it was.
  • Our next league game isn't until June 16th due to international play.  however we have a USOC game tomorrow night and if we win, another one next Tuesday.
Player Of The Game: Martin Rivero.  As I reviewed the match while writing this I realized that he drew both fouls that led to both of his free kicks that led to both non-PK goals.  Not only that, but ti was his through ball that Wells was running onto when he was fouled to draw the PK.  Two official assists after two drawn fouls and an unofficial assist to draw a PK.  I'm not sure you could ask much more from your #10.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Rapids Salaries

Player Position Base Guarenteed
Ababio Eddie D 44,000.00 44,000.00
Akpan Andre F 57,200.00 57,200.00
Amarikwa Quincy F 44,100.00 44,100.00
Armstrong David M 44,100.00 53,564.29
Cascio Tony M 44,000.00 77,750.00
Casey Conor F 400,000.00 400,000.00
Castrillon Jaime M 50,000.00 68,375.00
Ceus Steward GK 44,100.00 44,100.00
Cummings Omar F 90,492.00 99,242.00
Freeman Hunter D 105,000.00 110,792.50
Henao Harrison M 44,004.00 44,004.00
Hill Kamani M 44,004.00 44,004.00
Joyce Ian GK 44,004.00 44,004.00
Kimura Kosuke D 71,466.00 71,466.00
LaBauex Ross M 51,150.00 51,150.00
Larentowicz Jeff D 200,000.00 206,000.00
Marshall Tyrone D 90,000.00 93,250.00
Mastroeni Pablo M-D 240,000.00 245,000.00
Moor Drew D 230,000.00 247,188.89
Mullan Brian M 152,000.00 160,335.00
Nane Joseph M 44,100.00 44,100.00
Palguta Scott D 63,670.00 63,670.00
Pickens Matt GK 178,538.00 181,038.00
Rivero Martin M 50,004.00 50,004.00
Schmidt Luis Eduardo M-F 120,000.00 139,458.33
Smith Jamie M 148,992.00 158,992.00
Thompson Wells M 87,188.00 95,313.00
Wallace Anthony D-M 63,394.00 63,394.00
Wynne Marvell D 250,000.00 326,666.67
Yamada Kohei M 33,750.00 33,750.00
Zapata Luis D 65,460.00 69,043.33

That's the list of this year's salaries, with one caveat, Cummings signed a new contract a week and a half ago and that may not be reflected.  The total salary amount for those that count against the cap is between 2.7 and 2.9 million.  Since this year's cap is 2.81 million we're essentially at the cap minus any allocation money we used to buy down salaries.  The 65K we use every year to buy Casey down to the max salary number of 335K is already included in the 2.7-2.9 number.

This also shows us the 10 off-cap players that fill roster spots 21-30.  They're the 9 that make 44K and Yamada that makes 34K.  Ababio, Amarikwa, Armstrong, Cascio, Ceus, Henao, Hill, Joyce, and Nane.

The big surprises to me are Castrillon and Rivero each getting only 50K in base salary.  I expected they were each getting 6 figures.  I also find it interesting that Pablo isn't our second highest player this year, Moor and Wynne will both make more than him in 2012.

So far Freeman and Edu haven't justified being on our 10 highest players list (neither has Smith, but he has an excuse).  Casey is the 19th highest player in the league, something I have no objection to.  Only 10 players make six figures, besides those already mentioned, Larentowicz, Mullan, and Pickens round out that top 10.

League-wide when averaging a team's salaries at a position across the number of players at that position the Rapids pay the least of their midfield but the 4th highest for their defense.

Team Argyle!!!

Congrats to Ryder Hesjedal, a member of the Boulder-based Garmin-Barracuda pro cycling team as moments ago he became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour as he won the Giro d' Italia by 16 seconds! Its Garmin's first major stage race win in team history!

Hopefully we'll see Ryder here in Colorado in August for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Snooty French-Types Invade Colorado

I'm French! Why do think I have this outrageous accent!

Before I get started I want to point out that the full list of MLS salaries were released today.  I'll have a full write-up later this weekend but I figured some people might want to take a look.

Our only look at this year's expansion team, the Montreal Impact, comes tomorrow night at the Dick.  Of course that look will be without what seems like half our team due to injury.  After this the Rapids game a game Tuesday night in Tampa for the Open Cup but have no league matches until June 16th so we want to go into the break on a high note.  Kickoff is at 7pm so the tailgate will start at 5pm.  For those of you unable to make it the game is on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)
DOUBTFUL: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia)
PROBABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT YELLOW: MF Jeff Larentowicz (2 games left for good behavior reduction)

Despite whatever the injury report may list them ass, all 8 of those players have already been ruled out of tomorrow's game.  Yuck.  The 21 day break can't come soon enough.  The Impact are down 4 players themselves, but they're in better shape than us.  My wild-ass guess at tomorrow's lineup:

Cascio - Hill
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Thompson
Zapata - Marshall - Moor - Kimura

But hell, with this many injuries guys like Heano, Edu, Freeman, and Nane might get a start.  It will be very interesting to see how OP responds to this injury crisis.

Key To Look For: Can whomever is out there actually work with each other?  Can we string more than a couple of passes together before one player misreads another?

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  I expect some ugly soccer tomorrow.  One team is an expansion team and one team is missing up to 7 starters.  There will be a lot of tentative, conservative play and no scoring.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Despite Assurances, The USOC Hasn't Really Changed

So last night the 3rd round matchups of the U.S. Open Cup (USOC) were determined.  The Rapids will travel to Tampa to take on the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The game will be next Tuesday at 5:30pm MDT.  If Colorado wins they will qualify for the quarterfinals and travel to the winner of the Kansas City - Orlando game also taking place Tuesday night.

If you're keeping track that's now 11 straight USOC or USOC play-in draws where the Rapids have been drawn on the road.  The last 10 of those were supposedly "random" coin flips/draws.  The odds of a team losing 10 straight truly random coin-flips?  1 in 1024, or just under one tenth of one percent.  I think its safe to say some of those, perhaps most, weren't truly as random as advertised.

Which brings us to this year and the newly revised USOC.  After last year's final the USSF announced two major changes for this year's USOC.  The first is that there would be no play-in games for MLS sides, all 16 MLS teams would enter the USOC at the 3rd round.  That happened and all 16 sides will play a game next Tuesday or Wednesday.  The second was that there would no longer be a bidding process to host in the 3rd round and quarterfinals.  Instead there would be a basic minimum amount for the hosting team to pay the USSF plus a percentage of all ticket revenue above the first $100,000.  for the 3rd round that basic amount was $12,000, for the quarterfinals it was $15,000.  There was also a requirement that the stadium to be used meet certain requirements which basically limited hosting to MLS, NASL, USL, and a handful of PDL sides.  If both teams in a draw agreed to make the payment to the USSF and played in an acceptable stadium the home side would be determined by a random coin-flip/draw.

Or at least, that's what the USSF said publicly.  In private it turns out there was a second option.  Teams who lost the flip could buy the home game from their opposition if the opposition wanted to sell it.  Over the last two days both FSL and Seattle have bought their home game back, and Portland arrange to buy theirs from Wilmington but Wilmington was upset last night by Cal FC so Portland didn't have to pay to host.

How is this any different than what its been in past years?  The only real difference, from the point of view of the fans, is that the money is going to another team instead of the USSF.  I don't blame MLS teams for buying the games and I don't blame lower-league teams for selling the games.  The money the lower-league teams get from selling the games could be the difference between survival and closing up shop and its a great strategic move for MLS teams.  I do blame the USSF for misleading the fans into thinking they were making real changes to the competition instead of dressing up the same joke of a competition in new clothes.

Yes, I said joke.  The fact that Seattle has won this competition 3 years running while making a grand total of 1 trip more than 175 miles to do it is a joke (They played the 2009 final in DC, and went to Portland in 2010 and 2001).  In 2008 and 2006 the winners (DC and Chicago respectively) never played on the road.  In 2005 LA never left the state of California, playing a "road game" against Chivas in their shared stadium and a road game in San Jose.  This all happened because the old process was a sealed bid for hosting, with the USSF taking the better bid and awarding that team the home game.  I don't blame those teams for prioritizing the competition and buying the home games, but it greatly devalues the competition.  I really thought the USSF was making a change this year to increase the value of the competition.  Instead it turns out they just took the deals out of the backroom and made them public, but its the same U.S. Buyer's Cup.

For the record I asked the Rapids what they decided to do this year.  The told me they did agree to the requirements to host and lost both coin flips.  They also considered buying the home game from Tampa but did not reveal why that did not happen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rapids Win, Lose, and Draw Against The SporKCs

Everybody, kiss your sister

For the first time maybe since starting this blog I didn't watch a Rapids game.  I spent the weekend at family events in Seattle and my schedule hasn't allowed me time to watch the game yet, but I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. ;)  I have watched the goals and read other write-ups but I'm not going to try to do any sort of comprehensive review of the game.

The Rapids were down 2 goals inside of 20 minutes, yet got a 2-2 draw.  The actual result was one point but in some ways this feels like a loss and in some ways it feels like a win.  Going down at home inside of the first 70 seconds was a colossal failure and compounding it 19 minutes later made it worse.  We gave away 2 points we shouldn't have.  At the same time showing the mental strength to battle back from a 2-0 hole at halftime is a positive sign and should have the team feeling like we stole a point.  Like the title says, this was a loss, draw, and win in one game.

The real negative to come out of the game was another injury to Conor Casey.  He picked up a Class I hamstring strain and is now listed as doubtful on the injury report.

In the long run the team needs to either get Marvell Wynne healthy or figure out how to play defense without him.  Since he went down we've given up 6 goals in 4 games, and you can throw out the Dallas game since they went down to 9 men fairly quickly.  Against full-strength sides we're averaging 2 goals against without Wynne.  Our goals scored is 5th in the league, but there are only 5 teams who have given up more goals.  If we can lock down the back line we can be a dangerous team but until we figure that out we're average at best.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rapids Try To Bounce Back Against The SporKCs

Spock Spork!

After a disastrous midweek game in DC Colorado is back at home against Sporting KC.  Kansas City is on a 3 game slide after winning their first 7 to start the season.  There's a big tailgate for this one as Kansas City usually brings a good crown.  we're doing a BBQ tailgate and the KC fans are bringing authentic KC BBQ sauce.  Kickoff is at 7 so the tailgate is at 4.  For those people unable to make it (such as myself) the game will be on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Brian Mullan (L knee); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)

Disciplinary Report:

The injury report just keeps getting worse for the Rapids.  I'm not sure if Casey will start back-to-back games and missing Mullan will make things worse.  KC is only missing a couple of players so we'll be getting a healthy well-rested team.  The starting XI is a pure guess at this point:

Cascio - Casey
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Hill - Rivero
Zapata - Marshall - Moor - Kimura

After Wednesday's performance I don't think Marshall should be starting, but I don't know what the option is.  Kimura should be starting over Freeman.  If Casey can start then Hill is the obvious replacement for Mullan.  If Casey can't start?  Beats me.

Key To Look For: Does this team even want to win?  Outside of Casey and Pickens it didn't seem like it on Wednesday night.  There's going to have to be a lot more passion shown to win this one.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Cascio.  This feels generous based on our play against DC but I think the home crowd will help the team bounce back.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colorado Outplayed By DC

Horrible play, two complete debacles on defense, and only two shots on target.  An almost forgettable game that almost doesn't deserve a review, but I wanted to highlight the two goals as they really show the disaster of our defense last night.

On the first goal Neal was allowed to bring the ball a good 50 yards into the Rapids end with no pressure.  Freeman just kept backing up and backing up and backing up.  By the time he got near to the box he had Marshall for support but Marshal was just standing their pointing at the ball like it was a snake about to bite him.  Sahili made a crossing run behind Marshall, pulling Moor with him since neither Marshall or Freeman was paying attention to what was going on behind them (to the point that Marshall backed into Sahili as he crossed behind Marshall).  That left DeRosario with a ton of open space in front of goal and Neal played a perfect ball to him.  Larentowicz was standing in space between them but didn't move to cover DeRo as Moor was pulled away.  Pickens charged out to try to stop the shot with no luck and it was 1-0 DC.

On the second goal  a DC player brings the ball deep into the PK area. Moor slide tackles it away but doesn't get it over the end line. He then gets back up, fights for it, slide tackles it again, and that forces the DC player to play it back outside to where a cross was whipped in. The whole time Marshall is standing a couple yards away pointing at the ball but never engages, even when Moor is on the ground for the second time in 5 seconds.  The cross finds an onside Boskovic who heads it on net.  Pickens comes up with the parry but it falls to Sahili, who was also on-side and with Pickens on the ground its easy to make it 2-0.  Both players were kept on-side by Zapata who ended up standing between them not making a play on either ball and a good 2-3 yards behind all the other defenders who had stepped up to put Boskovic and Sahili in an offside position.

My key to look for was Hill and Cascio up front.  It turned out to be Casey and Cascio but it didn't matter as there were only two shots on goal, and they both came within a minute of each other int he second half (one form Hill, one from Cascio).  Beyond those we had no threatening attack all night.

Other Observations:
  • There were only two bright spots in this match, Matt Pickens (discussed below) and Casey getting the start and playing 65 minutes.  Everything else was awful.
  • Moor was essentially trying to do the job of 3-4 defenders last night.  On both goals he was left out of position and unable to cover due to Marshall standing around point at the ball instead of attacking it.
  • Freeman and Marshall should never play together again.  Period.
  • Larentowicz has failed to cover like that on multiple occasions this season and its burned us a couple of times.  He needs to step up when the defense gets pulled out of position.
  • Castrillon?  Rivero?  Not sure they played last night.
  • To add injury to insult, Mullan was pulled at half not as a tactical decision but because he injured his knee.  His status for Saturday is questionable.
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  Duh.  8 saves, at least 5-6 huge ones to prevent a goal from great shots.  Maybe he could have done better on the first goal but not by much and given everything else he did he prevented this from being a 5 or 6 goal game.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wounded Rapids Head For Nation's Capital

Our finest moment in DC

After what felt like a extremely long 10 days off Colorado is back in action tomorrow night in DC.  The center of power hasn't been kind to the Rapids historically, with last year producing only our 3rd ever win in the District.  This season a beat up burgundy side makes the trip with 4 major starters unlikely to start.  Game time tomorrow is 5:30pm on Altitude and the viewing party is at the British Bulldog.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT 2 YELLOWS: MF Jaime Castrillon; MF Jeff Larentowicz

Ugly injury report for the Rapids.  Casey is not expected to start and he saves his strength probably for Saturday's home game.  DC is missing 5 or 6 players as well so its going to be a battle of the walking wounded.  My guess at our starting XI:

Cascio - Hill
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Marshall - Moor - Freeman

I've shifted the lineup to the 4-4-2 the team seems to be using.  The Post this week said Hill and Marshall were likely to get the starts for the injured Cummings and Wynne.  I suppose Pareja could rest some starters  for the game on Saturday but after 10 days off I doubt it.

Key To Look For: Hill and Cascio up top.  That's a pretty young/inexperienced starting forward duo.  Are they going to be able to create the chances we need?

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Casey.  Yeah exactly the same as I predicted for the Dallas game.  This could become a shootout but I don't have that much confidence in the offenses.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Newyddion Cyfeillgar

That's Welsh for Friendly News and we got a big piece of news today.  On July 24th Swansea City of the EPL will be facing the Rapids in a friendly at the Dick.  Game time is 7pm and tickets go on sale to season ticket holders on Tuesday.  The general public will be able to buy tickets starting on Sat. May 26th.  Tickets will start as low as $22 or a two-pack with the Wed. Sept. 5th Portland game for $40.  Swansea is 12th in their first ever season in the EPL going into Sunday's final games and they'll finish somewhere between 10th and 14th.  Swansea is the only Welsh team to ever play in the EPL.

July 24th is the night before the All-Star Game so any Rapids picked to play against Chelsea in that game will not be with the team.  The Saturday before we're in Sandy to face FSL with the Rocky Mountain Cup on the line.  The Saturday after Seattle is at the Dick.  So my guess is that we'll see a mostly reserve lineup with a couple of younger starting XI members (Rivero for example) sprinkled in for a half.  The older starting XI players (Casey, Mullan, etc.) will be lucky to get 15 minutes as subs.

Even knowing that though I'm excited for this match.  This is the first friendly since 2009 and the first non-Mexican team friendly since 2008 when we played Everton.  I know that some other MLS teams are getting friendlies against clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham but I'd actually rather see a smaller club like Swansea.  For one the game is likely to be more competitive, the tickets are cheaper, and I actually like the smaller teams more than the big money front-runners.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Roster Moves and Player Updates

A couple of roster notes from the last couple of days.

  • Yesterday Colorado released Josh Janniere in order to make room for Edu on the roster.
  • They also placed Ross LaBauex on IR
  • Today they announced that Wynne and Cummings will be out about 4 weeks.
So that leaves us with 31 rostered players.  With Wallace on season-ending IR even with everyone else healthy we're still within the 30-man roster limit.

We currently have 7 internationals, Castrillon, Edu, Henao, Rivero, Smith, Yamada, and Zapata.  Smith is currently on IR so we still meet the limit of 6 international spots we currently have.  I've herd multiple reports that he's expecting his green card any day, so once that happens he won't count as an international and we'll be at our limit of 6.

When Edu was signed the Rapids mentioned that they would need to make moves to free up salary cap space. Janniere didn't count against the cap so releasing him didn't help, and players on the IR still count against the cap.  If the Rapids are salary cap compliant then they did some behind the scenes manipulation to get to that point without having to release players.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rapids Get An Advantage From The Refs In Win

Colorado played like the better team for 34 minutes when facing Dallas 11 on 11, then suddenly they were 11 on 9 and the game was essentially over.  In the 25th minute Daniel "Real Championship" Hernandez was given a yellow card for dissent after complaining to the ref for not calling a foul on the Rapids.  9 minutes later he went through Rivero without making contact with the ball and picked up his second yellow.  2 minutes after that Blas Perez went for a 50/50 ball but got Drew Moor with a cleat to the thigh instead of the ball and picked up a red card for the tackle.  Suddenly the Rapids were playing with a 2 man advantage for the rest of the game.

The only sour note to the first half was Omar Cummings turning his ankle and coming off in the 13th minute.  The turn looked pretty bad but he was able to walk under his own power to the locker room.  With a 10 day break now hopefully he'll have time to heal.

To start the second half Pareja inserted Conor Casey in place of Tyrone Marshall to turn up the pressure in Dallas.  It took a while but it worked.  In the 61st minute Mullan found space on the right side of Dallas' area and chipped the ball in front of net where Castrillon was unmarked to head it home.  Jaime's second goal in two games, both times giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead.  13 minutes later Colorado struck for a second time.  Once again Mullan got free on the right and this time he kept the ball on the ground to find Rivero around the penalty spot.  Martin had a criminal amount of time to turn, pick his corner, and slot it home to double the lead.  After that it was just a matter of running out the clock and claiming the 3 points.

My key to look for was the set play defense.  After the two red cards Dallas set plays weren't really an issue.

Other Observations:
  • The red card on Hernandez was deserved.  While I don't know what was said to earn him the first yellow the second one was a strong yellow and anyone willing to do something that stupid sitting on a yellow probably earned his red.  The red on Perez however probably should have been a yellow.
  • In the 3rd minute Jackson and Pickens got into it which finished with Pickens shoving Jackson with an elbow to the throat.  If that happened anywhere else on the field I think the ref would have called a foul and given a card, but he didn't want to give a PK that early.  Stupid move from Pickens.
  • That said, well done by the whole team in not drawing a red card.  After two in two minutes I'm sure Geiger was looking for a reason to balance things out but the Rapids didn't give him an excuse.
  • Its hard to judge Omar on 13 minutes of play, but the fact that he tried 3 passes to Cascio in the first 8 minutes and never got the ball to him was not boding well.
  • Good to see two newcomers getting on the scoreboard.
  • While it was good to break Dallas down for two goals Colorado showed a remarkable lack of creativity to do it.  There's only so many times you can watch a team cross the ball into a crowded box.  The team needs to mix it up more with some long-range shooting and taking players on.
  • Time for a nice 10 days off after our hectic week.
Player Of The Game: Brian Mullan.  After a great run of games Mullan got on the scoresheet with two assists in this one.  A well-deserved honor not only for this match but for the last 3-4.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

MLS Cup 2010 Rematch

Need I say more? ;)

A quick turnaround from our trip to Boston sends us to Dallas tomorrow for a rematch of our MLS Cup victory.  As good as the Rapids have been in Dallas in the postseason they've struggled in the regular season.  With this being the 3rd game in 8 days we'll probably see some tired legs.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 5pm and the game is on Altitude.  Pub on Penn will be hosting the Denver watch party while Backcountry Pizza will have the Boulder one.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)

INELIGIBLE: FW Edu (Awaiting visa and ITC)

Wynne didn't make the trip after his hamstring pull in New England on Tuesday.  The good news is that Rivero is off the injury report and Casey did make the trip.  Dallas is also missing 5 people to injury so the teams are at even strength.  Its going to be tough to know what Pareja's thinking on this one but my guess on the starting XI:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Marshall - Moor - Freeman

I wouldn't be shocked to see Kimura in for Freeman, Hill in for Cascio or even Palguta in for Marshall but I think Oscar will go with the lineup we had in New England.

Key To Look For: Set play defense.  We've gotten burned multiple times lately on defending the opposition's set pieces and we need to get that under control to get a win.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Casey.  Yep, Casey comes off the bench and gets the tying goal to rescue a  point.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Colorado Comes Up Short On Short Week

Short recap with the quick turnaround to Dallas on Sunday.  The Rapids played better than New England but made a couple of mental lapses on defense and that was enough to give the Revs a win.  Both Marshall and Freeman got the start (Marshall in place of the injured Wynne) while the rest of the starting XI was the standard we've seen the last couple of games.  20 minutes in after some good attacks Colorado got a corner kick.  Rivero whipped the ball in and Castrillon got free to head it home and give the Rapids an early lead.  Unfortunately it wouldn't stand up.

6 minutes later after initially clearing a corner kick the Revs crossed a ball into the far post.  It was headed high up across goal and Sene, left all alone a the top of the 6, volleyed it past Pickens to level the score.  In the 39th minute Cardenas did some good work to get some free space in front of Zapata and chipped the ball over him.  Pickens read the ball very badly and was caught flat-footed as the ball was going over his head.  He managed to get a hand on it but couldn't keep it out.  Honestly I'm not 100% sure this shouldn't be an own goal as the ball might have just gone over or hit the crossbar if Pickens didn't palm it down into the net.  It was close enough to give Cardenas the benefit of the doubt but a poor play from Matt.

The Rapids pushed for the tying goal the whole second half.  They had more than twice as many looks at goal than the Revs and 3-4 good shots on target but Matt Reis was up to the challenge.  Despite the better possession Colorado lost 2-1.

My key to look for was coherence in the team.  The one area that didn't have it, the defense, is where we got burned.  We were forced to make a change with Wynne's injury but the added change of Freeman for Kimura left a defense that was still trying to figure out how to work together and New England found the gaps.

Other Observations:
  • Another good game from the rookie.  Cascio missed on great chance to put Castrillion in on goal but otherwise was one of the most dangerous players in the game.
  • Leaving the best Revs attacker unmarked at the 6 was sloppy defense.  It looks like Rivero or Larentowicz lost track of him.
  • Omar played well for the first 15 minutes then it was like he wasn't even on the field the rest of the game.
  • I didn't see anything out of Freeman that makes him an automatic start over Kimura on Sunday.
  • Marshall is no more than a late-game defensive sub at this point in his career.  We need somebody else to start in Wynne's place when he's unavailable.
  • Mullan continued his hard play though it wasn't quite as noticeable this game as the last two.
Player Of The Game: Jaime Castrillion.  It was a toss up between him as Cascio, but Cascio's missing of the golden opportunity to set up Castrillon was the difference.  Castrillion looked a bit like El Pibe in his lack of running and defense but his attacking play was strong. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Save the Jameson For Next Year

No Jamesons Night this season

The Rapids get their only look at the New England Revolution tomorrow night in Foxboro.  That's right, the hallowed Colorado supporter's tradition of Jamesons Night when the Revs are in town won't happen this year, barring some surprise matchup in the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup.  It only works when the Revs are in Denver, so don't tempt fate by trying to use the power of Jameson on an away game!  Game time tomorrow is 6pm on Altitude.  There will be a viewing party at Backcountry Pizza in Boulder.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); MF Martin Rivero (R quadriceps soreness)

INELIGIBLE: FW Edu (Awaiting visa and ITC)

Ugly news about Wynne, I'm not sure when that happened but on the turf of Gillette Field I'm guessing he's out.  Casey also did not travel (probably due to the turf).  New England is missing 5 players so they're hurting as well.  With this being the 2nd game of 3 in 8 days my starting XI guess is truly a guess:

Cascio - Cummings - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Zapata - Marshall - Moor - Kimura

This looks like the "easier" of the two games this week so I'm guessing Pareja will play as many starters as possible to try to get the win here and then go into Dallas with the hopes of a draw using some backups.  The other possibility is to play the backups against the "easier" team and try to be full strength for the conference game on grass on Sunday but I just feel like he'll go with the former strategy.  If I'm wrong we could see Hill for Mullan, Freeman for Kimura, and possibly Thompson for Rivero or Castrillon.

Key To Look For: Coherence in the team.  We're going to have at least one change in the starting XI and possibly 4 or more.  That could be a number of players who aren't used to playing together yet.  How quickly we figure it out will be the key to getting a result.

Prediction: 1-0 win.  Goal by Cascio.  The Revs have only scored 5 goals this season, and 3 of them were in the same game, so I'm not too worried about our defense.  I think Cascio continues his hot streak and gets another goal but its going to be 90 minutes of ugly soccer with the Rapids squeaking out 3 points.