Friday, June 29, 2012

Rapids Try To Chop Down TImbers

Felled logs floating down river

Last year we opened the season with a 3-1 home win over Portland, our opponents tomorrow night.  We later beat them 1-0 with a favorable non-offside call in Portland.  Tomorrow we hope to keep that streak going with another win.  Kickoff tomorrow is 7pm.  A special tailgate time of 4pm for the annual Homebrew Contest, with about 50 Timbers fans joining us as well.  For those of you who can't make it the game is on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear)
PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (R hamstring strain);  FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); DF Kosuke Kimura (L foot contusion); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain)

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

The injury report looks very similar to last game, but everyone's had an extra 10 days to heal.  It looks like the team practiced a 4-4-2 this week with the C+C Goal factory back up front!  Portland has two players out to injury and two players out to suspension so they're actually worse off than we are.  My guess at the starting XI:

Casey - Cummings
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Zapata - Moor - Wynne - Freeman

Kimura and/or Smith could start as well, or Cascio in place of Cummings, but this feels like what OP is thinking.  That's a pretty solid lineup for the Rapids.

Key To Look For: It still comes back to the defense.  Can they figure out how to play as a unit?

Prediction: 2-1 win.  Goals by Casey and Cummings.  Tomorrow C+C Goal Factory find their magic and lead the team past the Timbers.  Portland gets one back late to make it interesting but Colroado gets the 3 points.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rapids Waive Three

This afternoon the Rapids waived Qunicy Amarikwa, Eddie Ababio, and Ross LaBauex.  This timing isn't a surprise, most players like these three in the league are on semi-guaranteed contracts that become guaranteed on July 1st, which is Sunday.  Cutting them now means the Rapids aren't on the hook for their contracts.

These three being cut aren't that much of a surprise.  We already knew Amarikwa was being "evaluated" and hadn't really featured this season.  Eddie Ababio didn't seem to be in Gary Smith's plans last year or Papi's this year.  LaBauex had gotten the most playing time but plays a position very similar to what new homegrown signing Shane O'Neil plays so is somewhat redundant at this point.

Scott Palguta didn't get cut, which I chalk up to only having three other center backs on the roster besides Ababio and Palguta, and Palguta seemed to be the more favored of the two of them.  The only other name I thought might be at risk was Joseph Nane.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pareja versus Smith

Not surprisingly its been popular with our inconsistent start of the season to question if the coaching change was the right move.  I supported the move at the time and I continue to support it now.  Apparently I'm not alone as the Burgundy Wave blog has a great Hero Worship article about the flawed comparisons between Gary Smith and Oscar Pareja.

I really can't disagree with the article, but I can throw out some facts to show why I think some posters (particularly on the Rapids Facebook page) are being unfairly harsh when judging this season so far, especially in comparison to prior seasons.

First, let's start with our horrible injury issues this season.  A number of Gary Smith supporters think that the MLS Cup lineup is still our best lineup and the changes that have been made away from that have been a mistake.  So using that as a baseline, I counted the number of games lost due to injury by the starters in MLS Cup 2010 in the first 15 games of 2011 and 2012 .  I considered any game where the player was on the injury report and didn't play more than 15 minutes a game lost to injury.  In 2011 I also counted the game Omar Cummings missed due to his Nats team callup.

2011: 25 games lost to injury, 1.66 starters per game.
2012: 65 games lost to injury, 4.33 starters per game

Least number of starters missing:
2011: 0 (Games 1 & 3)
2012: 2 (Game 15)

Most number of starters missing:
2011: 3 (Games 9 & 12)
2012: 7 (Game 13)

So Pareja has been dealing with 2.5 times as many injuries as Smith did at this point last year.  Until last week's game against San Jose Papi's healthiest lineup was as healthy as Smith's most injured lineup.

According to a number of ranking systems the Rapids have played one of the toughest schedules so far this season.  ELO+ has the Rapids with the 2nd toughest schedule behind Houston, while Jeff Sagarin has them with the 3rd toughest schedule behind Houston and San Jose (by .01).

Since MLS dropped the Shootout after 1999 the Rapids have averaged exactly 19 points through 15 games through 2011.  Last year under Smith (actually all 3 years he was in charge) the Rapids had 22 points, the last three of which were gained when the Rapids scored an last minute goal in Portland that should have been ruled offside and the Rapids should have only gotten 1 point for a draw.

Right now the Rapids have 19 points, losing out on a point in the last game when the ref probably incorrectly gave San Jose a penalty kick for a last minute goal.  If the last minute calls in game 15 each of the last two years were made correctly then the Rapids would have had 20 points after 15 games in 2011 and 2012, pretty much dead on their average since 2000.

So with one of the toughest schedules in the league and an injury list 2.5 times worse than Smith had last year, Pareja has managed to lead the team to pretty much the same place Smith led the team after 15 games last year.  This while being a first-year coach trying to institute a new style of play and integrate a number of new players.  Call me crazy but I have a hard time understanding why people are calling for Pareja's job.  To me it seems like he's achieving essentially what Smith was able to achieve while dealing with greater challenges.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


My Overseas Roundup of the teams I follow is coming a bit late this year because I had to wait for the Spanish promotion playoffs to finish today.  Unfortunately its pretty much universally bad news.

Blackburn Rovers - EPL - Finished 19th of 20.  In the biggest failure of the year Blackburn Rovers was relegated out of the EPL.  The same year a 5th team finally joined the ranks of EPL winners Blackburn were relegated for the second time since the founding of the EPL, the only EPL champion ever to be relegated (but when the only other ones before this year were Man U., Arsenal, and Chelsea that's not a huge surprise).  This was Venky's first full season in charge of Rovers and they proved they don't have a clue of what they're doing.  My fear is that this coming season will be the first of many in the Championship.  Unlike last time we were relegated we won't bounce back up the next season.  Let's just hope our plummet stops in the Championship!

Queen of the South - Scottish First Division - Finished 10th of 10.  Money finally caught up to the Doonhamers.  They were barely able to keep the team full-time and had to slash all of their existing contracts to so that.  They put everyone, including the manager, on one-year deals in order to remain financially viable and from an economic perspective it worked, but at the cost of our First Division spot after 10 years.  The club has announced they plan to stay full-time in a bid to move back up to the First Division ASAP.  They turned down investment from an outside company, deciding that they club should remain in the hands of local Dumfries fans.  The club will be moving training back to Dumfries from Glasgow (where its been for the last few years) and are laying new surfaces for the stadium and the practice field this offseason.

CD Tenerife - Spanish Segunda B - Finished 2nd of 20.  The Spanish Segunda B is split into 4 20 team groups with promotion playoffs for the top teams.  Tenerife was unlucky to be draw into the same group as Real Madrid's reserves and not surprisingly the royal backups ran away with the group.  The group winners only have to win one home-and-home playoff series to clinch promotion (which Real Madrid B did) while the 2nd-4th placed teams in each group had to win 3 such series.  Tenerife won the first 2 and went into today's promotion playoff final at home with a 1-0 deficit to Group 2's 2nd placed team, Ponferradina.  Unfortunately despite having the home advantage they lost the game 2-1 and will remain in the Spanish Segunda B for another season.

Melbourne Victory - Australian A-League - Finish 8th of 10.  This was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Victory, and it was.  After hanging around the edge of the playoff spots for the first 2/3rds of the season a series of poor results in the final stages found them dropping to 8th and staying there for the last third of the year.  Melbourne were 8 points out of a playoff spot, missing them for the 3rd time in their 7 year history.  The A-League is going through a lot of financial issues right now so its hard to tell what kind fo season to expect next year.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Couged It

Couged It: 1. The inability to keep a lead in a sporting event; 
a) to lose a game in the last minute or second.
b) to surrender a walk-off homerun or lose in sudden death

For you Colorado fans who are new to the Pac-12, Couging It is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  So named for the fact that the Washington State Cougars have perfected this art, particularly in big games like the Apple Cup against my Washington Huskies.  There's no better description for what Colorado did on Wednesday night.  (Ironically, one of the best examples of Couging It in Rapids history might be our MLS Cup victory when Dallas Couged It with an own goal by former Washington Husky George John).

2-1 loss was my prediction, but I didn't see it coming like this.  San Jose, as expected, outshot us 9-5 in accurate shots but Matt Pickens was up to the task and it was Brian Mullan, 18 minutes in, who gave the Rapids the lead on a gorgeous header.  For the next 66 minutes the highlights seemed to consist of Pickens saves and San Jose shots.  In the 84th minute San Jose pressed a good attack and overwhelmed the defense, with four attackers crashing the box on a cross and only three defenders to stop it.  Pickens made the initial save but Freeman was trying to cover the extra man, as well as his own, and while he managed to just barely beat the SJ attack to the ball he was forced into putting it into his own net due to the contact with Gordon.  It was ruled an own goal but if Freeman hadn't been there it would have been an easy goal for Gordon, so he really can't be blamed.

In the 90th minute the Earthquakes turned the defense inside-out, allowing Alan Gorden to get behind the defense on the left side of the box with the ball.  Matt came flying out of his net and dove at the ball but Gordon pushed it past him and then went to ground.  There may have been slight contact or it may have been a dive, but given the positioning of the players it looked like contact from the referee's angle so the penalty was called, and converted by Wondolowski.  A 1-0 lead in the 84th minute became a 2-1 deficit at the final whistle.

My key to look for defense, defense, defense.  Well it was better, but hardly great.  San Jose got multiple chances and the defense got completely worked on the second goal.

Other Observations:
  • I was blaming the defense for the first goal until I watched the replay writing this post.  The real problem was the complete lack of support from the midfield.  Despite the play not developing that quickly the only midfielder in the box was Castrillon, and he was a bit behind the play.  Hard to blame the defense for not stopping a 4 on 3 (Zapata was out wide trying to put pressure on the cross).
  • That was the only time I noticed Castrillon all night.  He really hasn't added much this season, despite his team lead in goals, and should be benched as soon as Smith is ready to start.
  • Great to see both Wynne and Casey starting.
  • I've got no problem with the Casey-Cumming swap.  That's almost SOP for bringing two players back from injury.
  • Edu for Hill was maybe not as good a sub given the way SJ was finding holes in our defense.  I appreciate the idea of keeping pressure by attacking but in hindsight bringing Thompson or Kimura on might have helped more.
  • That said, getting Edu off should have happened earlier, he didn't add much in this game.
  • Rivero had another good night but took a step back from his play in the Vancouver game.  I know there were complaints about him staying on the ground during the sequence that led to the E-Quakes first goal, but Rivero's slow enough when he doesn't have an ankle stinger that I don't think he would have helped.
  • Mullan's goal was very pretty.  I wasn't sure it would dip enough to get under the bar but he found the perfect height to get over the keeper and under the bar.
  • Despite the own goal I thought Freeman and Zapata had good nights, Freeman had the assist on our goal.
  • At 19 points we're exactly on the team average for points after 15 games in the post-Shootout era.
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  Right now Pickens should be the starter for the All-Star Game.  He's been that good, especially in the last month.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Smith Activated, Yamada Waived

Just a quick note that the Rapids just waived Yamada and activated Jamie Smith for tonight's game.  My guess is they were hoping to get Smith's green card papers in by today but since they didn't they needed to waive Yamada so that they had an international slot to activate Smith with.  Waiving Yamada also keeps the team with 10 non-salary cap players after yesterday's signing of homegrown player Shane O'Neill.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The True Clash

The Rapids defense is going to have to Clampdown on the team formally known as the Clash order to get a win tomorrow night.  Our first mid-week home game of the season will probably result in a smaller but hopefully no less vocal crowd.  Despite that the tailgate will go on as normal with a 5:30 start.  No special theme for this one, just a good time.  For those of you unable to make it the game is on Altitude with kickoff at 7:30.

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

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

The injury report improved significantly this week.  I don't think we'l;l see Wynne and Smith is still waiting on his green card paperwork but I expect Cummings and Casey will get playing time.  San Jose is missing 3 players to injury and starting GK Jon Busch to suspension so they're at a similar strength to us.  My guess at the starting XI:

Cascio - Casey - Mullan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Freeman - Marshall- Moor - Kimura

Getting closer to our best starting XI.  I don't see Pareja making sweeping changes for this one, he'll stick with the majority of the lineup that's gotten us this far.  Players like Hill, Akpan, and Zapata are options but I don't think he'll use them.

Key To Look For: Defense, defense, defense.  San Jose is tied for the second highest goals in the league and Wondolowski is tied for the scoring lead.  We have to be able to fix our defensive issues.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Casey.  A high scoring team on a ton a rest versus a low scoring team coming off a game Saturday.  The odds are against us in this one and I haven't seen anything from this team recently that makes me think we can overcome them.  I've I'm feeling optimistic a 2-2 draw is a possibility but I think we've use up our share of luck lately.

Rapids Make Shane O'Neill Second Homegrown Player

Today Colorado announced they've signed Boulder's Shane O'Neill to a homegrown contract, making him the second product of the Academy program after Davy Armstrong signed a contract in 2010.  Reportedly its a 3 year contract.  As a homegrown player O'Neill does not count against the salary cap.  O'Neill is a MF/FW and has been training with the reserves all season.  With Wallace and presumably Pablo on the DL no other roster moves were required to fit O'Neill onto the roster but some of the rumors around the team suggest that both Amarikwa's and Yamada's places ont he team are being reviewed so I expect more roster moves soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bad Luck and Bad Finishing Combine For 0 Points

I predicted a one-goal loss going into the weekend, but on the other end of the 2 days this feels like points we gave away.  After a completely forgettable first half (each team had a whopping 2 shots on target) the second half brought a little more entertainment.  Early on most of it came from Matt Pickens coming up big time and time again.  In the 60th minute Darren Mattocks made a run into the box and tried to beat Drew Moor.  When he realized he couldn't he took a step and flopped looking for a call.  He got a call alright, diving with a yellow card.  As he went down Moor attempted to play the ball out but played it right off of Mattocks' head.  This apparently pissed Mattocks off as 30 seconds later he took Drew Moor out on the sideline.  Too bad for Mattocks the ref was watching him.  Second yellow, red, and off to the showers.

At this point you had to figure the Rapids had a good chance at taking all 3 points and should at least get 1.  Unfortunately the next 10 minutes made it appear Colorado was the team down a man as Vancouver was able to increase the pressure and keep Matty P hopping.  Finally the Rapids started to exert control and tilt the field the other way but, as we've seen often this season, it only takes one mistake.  In the 80th minute Chiumiento played a long cross into the box to an unmarked LeToux.  Pickens rushed out but was unable to stop LeToux perfectly timed volley into the net for the 1-0 lead.

For the next 10 minutes Colorado tried to get back on level terms but the bad luck Vancouver had early in the half seemed to switch sides and the Rapdis couldn't find the back of the net.  Rivero had a great chance after Edu's shot went off the back of a defender, but Martin put it off the cross bar.  Shortly after that Freeman beat everyone from outside but his shot went off the inside of the right post and back into play.  In total Colroado had 5 shots on target int he 2nd half but couldn't score.

My key to look for was the ability of the team to play as a unit.  Not a surprise that those regular starters seemed to and those spot starters didn't.

Other Observations:
  • Palguta was the one ball watching on the Vancouver goal, though the lack of pressure on the assist didn't happen.  How soon until Wynne is back?
  • This was Rivero's most complete game since joining the team.  If he can keep doing that on a regular basis we'll be in good shape.
  • That said, Castrillon once again was invisible.  With Smith coming off the DL it might be time to sit him down for a game or two.
  • Larentowicz got through the game without a card, which means he gets one knocked off for good behavior and isn't on the edge of a suspension.
  • Our forwards did not get off a single shot int he first half.  Koz got off 2.  There's something seriously wrong with that picture.
  • I know he hasn't played much yet, but I'm not seeing anything that Edu brings to the team.
  • Cascio was a non-factor in this one.  That's not a huge surprise from a rookie, but he's cooled off from his hot start.  He'll need to find the game again.
  • Mullan is Mullan.  He does much better in a 4-4-2 than a 4-3-3.
  • After one early attack Koz and Moor did a fairly good job with Mattocks.  In general I though Koz's game was better though I seem to be a minority on that one.
  • Palguta, *sigh*.  Of course Marshall isn't much better.
  • Through 14 games last season we had 19 points with a +2 goal differential.  Through 14 games this season we have 19 points with a +1 goal differential.
Player Of The Game: Matt Pickens.  This game could have easily been 3 or 4 to 0 without him.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wet Game Forecast For BC Place

River whitecaps are better than ocean ones

When the Rapids face the Whitecaps you know that somebody's getting soaked.  In the first of our 3 meetings against them the Rapids make a trip to the Great White North.  The Rapids have never lost in Vancouver (all of one game) while they've never won in Toronto when facing Toronto, so western Canada is much more favorable to us.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm and the game is on Altitude.  Hopefully you can tear yourself away form the enjoyable Euro 2012 tournament.  Despite seeing my two favorites (Ireland and Sweden) eliminated the last two days I'm still having a good time watching it.

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

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: DF Tyrone Marshall
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT YELLOW: MF Jeff Larentowicz (1 game left for good behavior reduction)

The injury report looks much better than it has recently.  Casey has been confirmed as travelling with the team, though with the turf in Vancouver and a game on Wednesday I only expected to see him as a sub if he plays at all.  Jamie Smith is also expected to be in uniform for the first time this season.  Vancouver is only missing 3 players so they're in better shape than we are.  My guess at the starting XI:

Cascio - Akpan
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero - Mullan
Freeman - Palguta- Moor - Kimura

I think the turf and short schedule will keep any less than 100% players out of the starting lineup.  We could see an Edu or Zapata start but I'm guessing Pareja tries to stabilize the lineup a bit'

Key To Look For: What's going to happen after a 2 week break?  There's going to be some rust combined with some unusual starters, will the team play as a unit?

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Cascio.  I don't have much faith in this defensive unit to solve our ongoing problems, and without Casey and Cummings I don't think we can keep up.  Cascio is well rested and will get one from long-distance but the Rapids will lose.

Monday, June 11, 2012

George Retires

I'm going to divert to one of my other favorite sports, cycling, for a moment.  George Hincapie, one of the leaders not only in American racing but across the professional peloton, announced today that this will be his final season.  Hincapie has raced for 19 seasons, all with American teams (Motorola, Postal/Discovery, HTC-High Road, and BMC). and has set numerous records.  Some of the most impressive is that in 3 weeks he'll take the start line for his 17th Tour de France, and if he finishes he'll have finished 16 of them, both all-time records for a rider.  He's also led teammates to victory a record 9 times (all 7 of Lance Armstrong's wins, Alberto Contador in 2007, and last year Cadel Evans).  He's also set records by completing Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders 17 times.

Hincapie is a 5-time Olympian (every Olympics since 1992) and will find out this week if he'll be part of this summer's team for the road race in London.  He's been the U.S. road race champion 3 times (1998, 2006, and 2009).  He wore the yellow jersey for the first two days of the 2006 Tour de France by winning the prologue.  Last August he won the Queen Stage (Stage 2) in the first USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the stage that took the riders over both Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass.

George expects to race twice more before retirement.  As mentioned, on June 30th he'll start his 17th Tour de France which can be seen live daily on the NBC Sports Network.  Then in August he plans to be here in Colorado racing the USA Pro Cycing Challenge again.  Its the end of an era in American cycling but he hands the reins over to a good young group of riders like Teejay Van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, and Boulder's own Peter Stetina.

If you're in Colorado get out and see Hincapie's final race in August.  Above is a picture of George giving me (in the Rapids jersey) an autograph my my wife (besides me) takes a picture.  This was in Steamboat Springs last August before Stage 5 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  The picture was taken by Karen over at Pedal Dancer, who should be your source for all the important cycling news with a Colorado viewpoint.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Midseason Review

Technically midseason isn't until after the 4th of July game, but this long break seems to be a good time to assess where the team is at this point.  First lets start with my predictions from the beginning of the season:
The Rapids struggle to hold on to a playoff place all season and miss out on the playoffs in the last couple of games of the season.  The struggle to adapt to the new style early in the season will cost us just enough points to finish 6th in the West and just outside the postseason.
Well we're currently tied with Vancouver for the last two playoff spots, 4 points ahead of Chivas in 6th.  We've certainly dropped points we shouldn't have so far (@New England, LA) and they may come back to bite us.
Due to the unfavorable schedule of two games in Utah before FSL comes to Colorado for the final game the Rapids will lose the Rocky Mountain Cup again.
Being down 2 goals with another game still to go in Sandy isn't really pointing towards us winning hte RMC, but you never know what might happen.
Colorado makes a deeper than expected run in the U.S. Open Cup before losing on the road in the semifinals to another MLS team.
Well I was half right.  We lost on the road to a MLS team, but it was only in the 4th Round not the Semifinals.
Cascio will be the best rookie the Rapids have seen since Hunter Freeman in 2005.
I might have underestimated Cascio.  Freeman started 14 games and played over 1200 minutes in 2005.  Cascio has already started 12 games and played over 1000 minutes.  If tihs continues he might be the best rookie the team has ever had.
Casey comes back just as strong as before and gets at least 10 goals.
Not so far, but there's still time.  If he can bounce back from his current injury quickly he can get to double-digits.
Late in the year, but before the final game, Pablo announces his retirement.
With his current concussion issues, this seems even more likely now.

So I was off on the USOC and so far am off in Casey's return, but other than that my predictions are looking pretty good.  That's largely because this team seems to be exactly what it appeared to be before the season.  A new mixture of players, coaches, and tactics that hasn't figured out how to gel yet.  Breaking it down by position:

Goalkeeping: Pickens has been better than I expected.  I won't say he's been standing on his head but he's come up with some huge saves at times.  Ceus got one game against Tampa in the USOC that should have been a shutout.  Grade: A

Defense: Clearly the weak point on the team.  Injuries have shown we have no depth at center back and while we have 3 outside backs of roughly even quality none of them have played consistently well.  If we can get a stable 4 on the field we can do OK but any time we have to change the back line problems occur.  Grade: D+

Midfield: The Jekyll and Hyde part of the team.  Sometimes our new additions of Castrillon and Rivero look like maestros and sometimes they look overmatched in this league.  Larentowicz is doing his best to fill in for our sorely-missed captain, but he doesn't have Pablo's grit yet.  At times Mullan has played as more of a midfielder which has helped.  This was expected to be the area that saw the biggest upheaval with the change in tactics and personnel and their play reflects that.  Grade: C

Forwards: With the number of injuries to Casey and Cummings its hard to judge how well we've played.  Cascio has been great for a rookie, finding Hill as a super-sub has been a bonus, but Edu has been a disappointment so far.  Cummings has not played well in the Casey role of a 4-3-3 but when moved back into the traditional 4-4-2 he's found a bit of his old style.  Casey's injuries have kept him off the field most of the seaosn but you can see what he brings to the team when he's been in there.  Grade: C

Bench: Yuck.  Other than Hill as a super-sub there hasn't really been a strong presence in our subs and backup players.  Palguta, Thompson, Marshall, Edu, etc. have been mediocre as a whole.  Grade: C

Coaching: For a new coach Pareja has certainly said all the right things.  Papi realized the 4-3-3 wasn't working with our available personnel and shifted back to a 4-4-2.  He took the USOC as seriously as the injury situation would allow.  His moved to sign players when necessary have been quick, though many haven't paid off yet.  All thing considered he's actually done a bit better than I expected.  Grade: B-

Overall: A solid but unspectacular start to the season for the Rapids, which the 6-6-1 .500 record reflects.  The silver lining is that the record has been earned playing one of the toughest schedules in the league so far (I've seen it ranked between 1 and 3 in the last few weeks) while playing without up to 8 of the starters from MLS Cup 2010 due to injury.  For a team integrating as much new personnel as Colorado is that's actually more than just an average start.  Grade: B-

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SporKCs Eliminate Colorado, Again

Not really the result we were hoping for as Sporting KC beat Colorado 2-0 last night.  A goal in the latter half of each half did the team in.  All credit to the Rapids, they send out a pretty strong lineup:

Cascio - Edu - Thompson
Castrillon - Larentowicz - Rivero
Freeman - Marshall - Palguta - Kimura

That's about the best lineup we could play due to our injuries (Moor was a late scratch due to a tight hamstring).  Unfortunately without Cummings and Casey this team has no real creativity in attack.  They only got close once, and it went off the crossbar.  Meanwhile on the other end KC's first goal came after a great save by Pickens rebounded off the post and hit him in the back to roll over the line.  It was registered as an own goal but there's no blame to be placed on Pickens at all.

Its been 5 years since our last home match in this competition, its going to be at least one more.  The team is off until a week from Saturday when they're in Vancouver for the restarting of league play.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rapids Face SporKCs For Spot In USOC Quarterfinals

Colorado left this afternoon for the short flight to Kansas City for tomorrow's U.S. Open Cup 4th Round game. Game time is 6:30pm and there will supposedly be a stream of the game available on the Rapids website though exact details have not been announced. They also have not announced the travelling roster yet, but they did post a picture of Kimura and Freeman boarding the bus. Our injured contingent of Pablo, Casey, Cummings, Mullan, and Wynne have also been ruled out.

The winner of this match will host the winner of tomorrow night's match between the PDL (4th tier) Michigan Bucks and the USL (3rd tier) Dayton Dutch Lions. That's the U.S. Ope Cup quarterfinal and will be held on June 26th. If the Rapids win it would be their first home USOC match in 5 years, hosting a team at least 2 tiers below them with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

That, combined with this being the only game between the USOC match last week (which many first-teamers didn't play in) and the game in Vancouver 11 days from tomorrow, is a good enough reason to run out the healthy first-team players. KC's coach Peter Vermes has said he plans to play his first team, though with international callups and injuries they're missing almost as many starters as we are. Oscar Pareja was a little more guarded today, saying that he plans to take the game very seriously but not committing to anything. With a spot in at least the quarterfinals on the line and a probable shot at the semifinals this game should be taken very seriously. As we saw last week hosting a lower league team is no guarantee of a win but the odds don't get much better than that. I know some fans have said this tournament isn't worth risking injury to our starters but I completely disagree, especially at this point.