Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Roster Review As We End 2014

Barring an unexpected player announcement tomorrow here's a quick review of our currently signed players as the year ends.  The interesting thing is that the rumors out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between the Players Union and the league suggest roster sizes may be reduced as development is shifted to the USL with the new agreement between the leagues.  In the Rapids case that would mean their partnership with Charlotte.  The numbers could drop from 30 down to 24 or 25.

John Berner
Clint Irwin

No surprises here.  The Rapids will probably add a young third keeper if the roster sizes stay high, or put a third keeper in Charlotte.

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Michael Harrington
Chris Klute
Drew Moor
John Neeskens
Shane O'Neill

I think we can assume Zat Knight will also be signed given is protection in the expansion draft.  Its a waste but it is what it is.  Its hard to see us adding much here given the roster realities but we might see another central defender added to cover for Moor's rehab and the possibility of losing O'Neill to Europe (or maybe moving him to d-mid?).

Marlon Hairston
Dillon Powers
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Uh huh.  That's barely enough to put a starting XI on the field.  All signs point to Nick LaBrocca being re-signed as he pulled his name out of the re-entry draft but that's not much help.  We need at minimum a MLS ready d-mid, another wide player (though some of our forwards could fill in to that spot), and a backup for Powers in case of injury.  We probably need at least another 1-2 players on top of that just for depth, though roster limits and flexibility of players may drive that.

Deshorn Brown
Caleb Calvert
Charles Eloundou
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres

Not a bad stable of forwards but the $64,000 question is what's going to happen to Torres?  If he's in camp, committed, and ready to play he jumps to the top of the starting XI.  If we get the Torres of much of 2014 we need another striker to play off of Brown.  Sanchez is Sanchez, when healthy he plays but we can't count on him for more than about 21-23 games a season I think.  I like Eloundou's flashes so far but he's still a work in progress as is Calvert.  With "good" Torres we probably need a solid backup.  With "bad" Torres we need to move him out, free up the salary, and sign a quality striker.

Right now the Rapids have 18 players under contract by all reports with two more (Knight, LaBrocca) likely to sign.  Under the 2014 roster rules that would give us 10 spots to fill but if the rosters reduce to 24 that gives us 4 spots to work with (though in that scenario we could see somebody like Watts, Berner, Calvert, or Eloundou sent to Charlotte to free up a spot).  In that case there's not much room for error in our off-season moves.

Friday, December 19, 2014

One Last Batch Of Pre-Holiday News

A few pieces of news to wrap up the pre-holiday part of the preseason.

  • The Rapids didn't take anyone in the Re-Entry Draft Stage 2, but Marvell Wynne was selected by San Jose.  So that leaves the Rapids with one player from the 2010 team left on the roster, Drew Moor (Armstrong is also around but was waived at the end of the season).
  • Two former Rapids were also taken,  Atiba Harris rejoins Pareja in Dallas and Nathan Sturgis returns to Houston.
  • Season openers were announced today.  We know two Rapids games
    • They'll open the season in Philly on March 7th.
    • We'll get our first look at expansion side NYCFC in our home opener on March 21st.
  • Today Colorado announced that Claudio Lopez has re-joined the club in a Director of Soccer role.  I'm not sure how this fits in with our existing Head Coach, Sporting Director, and Technical Director but I'm happy to see Lopez added to the brain trust.
And with that, I'm out (barring unexpected news next week) for Christmas.  Happy holidays to everyone and I'll try to have a couple of interesting posts during New Year's week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rapids Lose Two, Gain One In Today's Drafts

MLS had two drafts today, the expansion draft for NYCFC and Orlando and the Waiver Draft for all the waived players in the league.

In the expansion draft the Rapids, surprisingly, lost two players including the 3rd overall pick in Tony Cascio to Orlando.  Colorado pulled Marc Burch off the table after Cascio was selected.  Later in the draft Orlando also selected Danny Mwanga.  Overall probably a decent result for the Rapids.  Losing Cascio hurts but removing any chance of Mwanga returning is a huge plus.  We also kept Eloundou and Neeksens which I was concerned about losing.

After the expansion draft the Rapids had the 3rd pick in the waiver draft and selected center-back Bobby Burling, formally with Chivas USA.  Burling entered the league out of college in 2007 and played with Chivas through mid-2009 when he was traded to San Jose.  He was selected by Montreal in the 2011 expansion draft but was immediately traded to Chivas USA where he played through last season.  He averaged 16 appearances a season in his second stint with Chivas.  While in college he played with the PDL Colorado springs Blizzrd, so he's familiar with the area.

That gives us Burling, Moor, and O'Neill at CB, with a Knight signing presumably coming.  I wouldn't be shocked to see us pick up one more CB due to Moor's recovery from his ACL injury and the likelihood that he won't be 100% ready to start the season.  This would also give O'Neill some freedom to move up to his preferred defensive midfield position, especially if Jose Mari leaves.

Monday, December 8, 2014

As Expected, Busy Day For The Rapids

In the short 4 hour trade window this morning the Rapids made two trades, then released their protected list for the expansion draft.

The first move was acquiring Michael Harrington from Portland for allocation money.  Harrington is a 28 year old right back who can play on the left as well.  He spent 6 seasons in KC averaging about 25 appearances a season before moving to Portland for the last two years, making 58 appearances.  Harrington made 125K in Portland last season.

I think this was a solid move by the Rapids.  Getting a steady MLS right back fills in for the out of contract Wynne at a lower cost and frees Klute up to focus on the left side.  We have no idea how much allocation money it cost us but given our hit (Jose Mari, more on that later) and miss (Zat Knight, again more later) track record with internationals its probably good we stuck with a known quantity.

The second move today was sending Joe Nasco and our third round pick in next month's draft to New England for international strikers Dimitry Imbongo (Congo) and Geoffry Castillion (Netherlands) and New England's 2nd round pick next month.

This was clearly a salary dump for NE as Castillion was signed to a 329K contract in August and made 1 appearance for the club.  Imbongo has been in New England for two years, scoring 4 goals in 32 appearances and tying a MLS record with 3 red cards in one season (2013).  He made 123K last year.  This also gives the Revs flexibility in their international count for their protected list.

I don't know what to think about this trade.  I like the swap of draft picks for Nasco, considering he had no future here.  Imbongo might be a decent pick-up if he can cool his hot head.  Castillion looks like an anchor at that salary though.  The good news is that both Imbongo and Castillion (as well as Nasco) had their 2014 options declined so we're not tied to them at their current salaries.

After all of that the Rapids released their expansion draft list:

Protected Homegrown Players: Armstrong, Calvert, O'Neill, Serna
Protected Generation Adidas Player: Hairston
Protected Players: Brown, Harrington, Irwin, Klute, Knight, LaBrocca, Moor, Powers, Sanchez, Torres, Watts

That leaves the following players unprotected and available for NYCFC or Orlando to select on Wednesday:
Agbossomounde, Alvarez, Berner, Buddle, Burch, Cascio, Castillion, Eloundou, Hill, Imbongo, Jose Mari, Mullan, Mwanga, Neeskens, Piermayr, Van De Casteele, Wynne

The big surprise is seeing Jose Mari unprotected but today's announcement also included the information that he's looking to go back to Spain in this offseason.  Other than that there are no real surprises, but I don't fully agree.  IMO I'd swap out Knight, LaBrocca, and Watts for Cascio, Eloundou, and Neeskens.  Knight didn't show enough for his cost in his four appearances.  If LaBrocca is important enough for us to protect we're not a good MLS team and need to get better.  Watts was just bad last season and while young, I'd rather risk him being taken than one of the other three.

Labrocca is the only player not under contract we protected while Berner, Burch, Cascio, Eloundou, and Neeskens are under contract for next season but unprotected.

Tomorrow should be quiet as the trade window is closed until after Wednesday's expansion draft.  If the Rapids do have somebody selected they'll be able to protect 1 more player.  My list would be Eloundou, then Cascio.  At most they can lose two players on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Go Revs!

I know I've been quiet the last couple of weeks but there's been almost nothing going on in Rapids land.  Pablo visiting Karanka at Middlesbrough for some coaching education is the extent of the news since the release of the declined contract options.  Next week will be busy though with the release of the expansion draft protected players tomorrow or Tuesday, the expansion draft for NYCFC and Orlando on Wednesday and the first phase of the re-entry draft on Friday, with the second phase the following Thursday.  Its also rumored that we'll see the 2015 schedule in the next couple of weeks.

Until then though I just wanted to show some support for the Revolution in today's MLS Cup.  Jermaine Jones is my favorite current Nat and the Midnight Riders are the best group of non-Rapids fans in the league.  They deserve to finally win a championship.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rapids Make Roster Moves

It was cut day in Commerce City apparently as the Rapids released the names of the players who will not have their options picked up for 2015.  Now that does not mean these players won't be with the team in 2015, some of them may sign new contracts at a lower number, but most of them will be elsewhere.  The list:

Gale Agbossoumonde
Carlos Alvarez
Davy Armstrong
Edson Buddle
Kamani Hill
Nick LaBrocca
Danny Mwanga
Joe Nasco
Thomas Piermayr
Grant Van De Casteele
Marvell Wynne

I'm a little surprised that they cut Alvarez, he's a young player with some talent.  Hopefully he's one of the players they're renegotiating with.  Happy to see Buddle and Mwanga on the list, that's a lot of salary freed up.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Wynne renegotiate, we went through this a couple of years ago and he came back.  Along with the retiring Mullan that's about $1.4 million in 2014 guaranteed compensation off the roster.

The Rapids also announced today that they picked up Tony Cascio's option for 2015 and Houston announced they were not going to make the loan deal permanent so Cascio will be part of the Rapids roster going forward.  He was guaranteed $105K this year.

So this is the current Rapids roster as we head into the expansion draft:

John Berner (GK)
Deshorn Brown (F)
Mark Burch (D)
Caleb Calvert (F)
Tony Cascio (F)
Charles Eloundou (F)
Marlon Hairston (M)
Clint Irwin (GK)
Chris Klute (D)
Zat Knight (D)
Jose Mari (M)
Drew Moor (D)
John Neeskens (D)
Shane O'Neill (D)
Dillon Powers (M)
Vicente Sanchez (M)
Dillon Serna (M)
Gabriel Torres (F)
Jared Watts (M)

We also got confirmation that Hairston, O'Neill, and Serna will be automatically protected in the expansion draft as GA and homegrown players.  No word on Calvert who was a homegrown player for Chivas USA and we've seen the homegrown designation stick with a player when he moves.  Those three plus the eleven players we get to protect leaves us with five to expose, only three of which can be internationals.

My choices to expose would be Berner, Burch, Knight, Watts and Neeskens.  If Calvert is auto-protected then that gives us another player to protect and I'd protect Neeskens.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rapids Add Caleb Calvert From Chivas USA Dispersal Draft

Today the former Chivas USA players were dispersed through a draft to other MLS teams.  The draft order was set through a farce of a random draw where the playoff teams got 1 ball (or envelope in this case) and the non-playoff teams got two.  The top 5 picks still went to playoff teams.  Colorado selected eighth.

With their pick Colorado took forward Caleb Calvert.  Calvert is a young (he turns 18 on Saturday) target forward who was a Chivas USA homegrown player.  He hasn't had any first-team playing time but has played in Chivas' academy and with their reserve team.  He was the U15/16 national player of the year in 2012-13 after scoring 22 goals for the Chivas USA Development Academy team.

There's no indication if Calvert will keep his homegrown status or not.  players can keep their statuses when traded (Josh Janniere for example) so it wouldn't be surprising if he did.  The projections are that Calvert isn't expected to contribute in 2015 but 2016 is realistic.  I would assume he would spend most of next season in Charlotte getting USL playing time.  If he doesn't retain his homegrown status he might be a target for Orlando or NYCFC in the expansion draft next month, so we may need to protect him.

Overall a good pick by the Rapids.  The only downside is that its another youth project to add to a large stable of youth projects, but I still like the choice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I Renewed My Season Tickets

About two months ago I explained why I hadn't renewed my season tickets yet.  Tonight I signed up for 2015, but not for the reasons detailed in my prior article.

My seat since I moved to Colorado has been in 108 with Class VI/Centennial 38.  I have a number  of friends (and sadly, the Zero who sits next to me ;)) involved in Centennial 38 and the gameday experienced is greatly enhanced by what the group does.  A couple of seasons ago the group worked out an agreement with the Rapids to handle all the ticketing in section 108 and the Terraces.  That agreement continues through 2015.

In my article two months ago I said the only lever that the fans have to push for change from the Rapids was their wallet.  My plan was to hold off giving the Rapids my season ticket money until they earned it by making changes that show they were serious about competing in 2015.  What C38 controlling the tickets in 108 means though is that my ticket for 2015 has already been purchased and the Rapids are guaranteed the funds from the sale of that ticket.  Choosing not to buy a season ticket now does not put any pressure on the Rapids Front Office to make any changes.  Instead it hurts C38 which has done a great job despite the mess the team is in.  It also hurts me as I enjoy going to games and I'd be depriving myself of that experience for no gain.

Given all of this I decided to renew my season tickets.  I also talked to the leadership of C38 and found out that the initial agreement with the Front Office for C38 to handle ticket sales is up after the 2015 season.  As a C38 member I will be pushing for the group to take a real review of the benefits and drawbacks (namely, the loss of the economic lever for individual fans) of handling the tickets before signing any new agreement.  Overall I think its better for the group to do it than not, but I think its important that the group really think about it and not just rubber stamp the idea because we've already been doing it for a couple of years.

So I've lost my ticket lever but that doesn't mean I have no options.  I have not changed my resolution that the Rapids will get no funds from me until they show they're willing to spend some funds towards being competitive next year.  I will buy no new merchandise or concessions in the stadium until I see some change.  Admittedly the concessions part is easy as with the mini-donut guy being gone (I got a bag of donuts from him at the UW-CU game!) the only thing I normally buy in stadium is a squishy on hot days.

The merchandise part though will save me some money.  A perfect example is this weekend's Supporters' Sale.  Normally I'm too busy this time of year to get out there but I have a nice hole in my schedule tomorrow morning and I would have jumped at the chance to check it out.  Instead I'm going to stay home and watch the Cameroon - DR Congo African Cup of Nations qualifier.  There's a new road jersey coming next year (please let it be better than the horrible FSL-lite kit) and regardless of how good it looks I'm passing.  The good news is that the Rapids, along with other MLS teams, are doing supporters faces on the numbers of their kits in August and fans wil be able to buy their own versions of the jerseys.  Hopefully by August the Rapids will be doing well enough that I'm willing to buy a jersey with my own face on it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 Player Of The Year

I'm a little late getting to this, but I need a break after he way the season ended.  Reviewing my Man of the Match awards:

1 award - Berner, Jose Mari, Nasco, Piermayr, Torres, the fans (the Mother's Day blizzard loss to Chivas USA), and the fan who paid for the plane at the final game

2 awards - Buddle, Eloundou, Moor, Sanchez

3 awards - Irwin, Powers, Serna

5 awards - Brown

Well, that makes this decision easy, and right in line with my gut feeling.  My Player of the Year is Deshorn Brown.

This season Brown was the only thing close to consistent on the offensive end.  He could be maddening at times but he still managed to finish 10 times for the second year in a row.  Only two other Rapids players have ever had back-to-back double-digit scoring seasons, Mark Chung and Conor Casey.  He's also the only player other than C+C Goal Factory to get to double-digits since Cunningham in 2005.  Over his first two seasons he's already 9th on the Rapids all-time list, and his current rate of scoring (a goal in just over every 3 appearances) is behind only Conor Casey and John Spencer all-time.

This year he had 4 more goals than Sanchez, and 5 of Sanchez's 6 were from the PK spot.  Powers was third with 5.  Essentially Brown doubled the goals of the next closest player.  Given how bad our defense was, nobody on that half of the field could be PotY and Brown is clearly the offensive PotY.

Despite my Man of the Match awards I'd give Jose Mari the runner-up spot.  He was 4th on the team with goals (with 4) including some absolute stunners.  He also was a sold distributor in midfield and largely wasn't at fault in our defensive breakdowns, other than the team is used to playing with hard-man defensive mid like Pablo and Thomas which isn't Jose Mari's game.

Not surprisingly Brown's season has continued after the season.  He's currently with the Jamaican National Team which is playing Martinique this evening (right now actually) in Caribbean Cup competition.  The Caribbean Cup is the qualification tournament for next summer's Gold Cup.  They will also play Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda later this week.  The top two teams in that group will qualify for the 2015 Gold Cup and the 3rd placed team will have a chance (if they're better than the 3rd place team in the other group) to play Honduras for the final spot.  Also the winners of the two groups will play for the Caribbean Cup championship and a spot in 2016's Copa America Centenario.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

End Of Season Roster Review

Usually here at the end of the season I go through the roster with my opinions of who are core players are, who we should keep until an upgrade can be found, and who we should cut bait on.  Sadly this year there isn't much on the roster that is worth keeping if there's a better option.  On top of that we've got an expansion draft coming next month as Orlando City and NYCFC enter the league.

So this year I'm going to break down who we should protect in the expansion draft and why.  Honestly, beyond this group of players, there's really not much left that needs to be kept.  Anyone who doesn't make the protected list should be upgraded immediately, if not flat out cut.

For my list I'm using the same rules MLS has used for expansion drafts the last couple of cycles.  Each team gets to protect 11 players, homegrown and Generation Adidas players are protected automatically and don't count towards the total of 11, and each team must protect at least 3 internationals unless they have less than 3, then they must protect all but 1.

Davy Armstrong (homegrown)
Marlon Hairston (Generation Adidas)
Shane O'Neill (homegrown)
Dillon Serna (homegrown)
* - Deshorn Brown was a GA player as well but he has almost certainly played enough to lose that designation after this season.

Deshorn Brown - Back-to-back team Golden Boot.  Obvious choice
Jose Mari - Good calming presence in the midfield and somebody to distribute
Gabriel Torres - He's a key part of next season, either getting on the same page as the team or what we'll get when we sell/trade him.

Final 8:
Charles Eloundou - Young kid with some exciting flashes
Clint Irwin - Our best GK and one of our better players
Chris Klute - Off year this year but we can hope for a bounce-back
Drew Moor - Veteran leadership and a solid CB
John Neeskens - Young player with potential
Dillon Powers - Defending RotY and a core member of the midfield
Vicente Sanchez - Veteran leadership and creativity
Wild Card - Whichever young player stands out the most to the coaching staff

That's it.  Everyone else is either not good enough, too expensive, or both.  Here are my clear cuts:

Edson Buddle - Way too expensive for return
Zat Knight - Sorry but he didn't impress in 4 games.  Moor does everything he does better.
Danny Mwanga - See Edson Buddle

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bow Down!

Picture from the UW Athletic Department

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Say Ciao To Jersey Sponsorship?

This Denver Post headline does not bode well for the future of the Ciao sponsorship:
Colorado Rapids sue Ciao Telecom over missed sponsorship payments
The article details how Ciao only paid $75K of the initial $80K to close the sponsorship deal and since then they've missed payments of $240K both at the end of Q2 and Q3, with a third payment of the same amount due at the end of next month.  The Rapids have now filed a lawsuit for the missing $725K.

The Post's reporting also details some of the risk involved for the Rapids, showing that the company hasn't made an SEC filing since March and in March the company had roughly $2 million in hand against $65 million in liabilities.  The other club the company sponsors, Reggina Calcio in Serie B has removed all Ciao marketing from their website.

Chris Bianchi, still reporting on the team despite being fired by MLSSoccer.com, tweeted the following today:
Re missing shirt sponsor payments: club did not formalize shirt sponsorship with Ciao in Feb. over concerns this might happen.

Ciao stability was a concern stretching back to winter. Could take away arguably greatest club success of season in acquiring shirt sponsor.

Rapids had a rough deal in place in Feb for shirt sponsorship. Team - not Ciao, as I understand - then backed away to conduct more research.
None of this is good news for the Rapids.  They signed a 5 year deal worth 8.3 million in April and didn't get full payment then, followed by the first missed payment 3 months later.  The best case scenario from my POV at this point is that the Rapids manage to get the $725K their owed at this point out of Ciao and then terminate the relationship.  I don't see a scenario where the Ciao sponsorship actually continues into 2015, much less through 2018.

So that puts us back to almost square one on a jersey sponsorship.  Its also unknown what this does in terms of the planned investment this off-season we heard so much about in the last couple of weeks.  We know that the Front Office got approval from KSE to spend more money on scouting, coaching staff, and authorization for a second DP but I'm guessing that was at least partially due to the additional funds the sponsorship brought in.  Without that cash will the Front Office still be able to achieve their off-season plans?

The other question is how long will it take to find a new sponsor?  There have been numerous rumors that Fort Collins' OtterBox made an offer that was declined, are they still interested?  Tim Hinchey talked on more than one occasion that they were taking their time to find a company that shared the team's values and had a connection to Colorado, and they weren't going to just go with any national company that expressed interest to MLS.  That's one thing that made the Ciao announcement surprising to me as the company had no real connection to Colorado.  I've been told by multiple people today though that MLS had a hand in setting up the Ciao sponsorship.  Does that mean the league didn't vet Ciao?  Did the Rapids abandon their goal of a company with local connections that shared their values?  Will that make it easier to find another sponsor?

The Rapids and the league have not made any official comment on this story yet.  From what we know up to this point though, it appears the team felt pressured, either from the league, fans, or KSE to make a deal and get a sponsorship done and took an offer they knew they were wary of.  Unfortunately it blew up and left egg on their faces, again.  Sadly this is just another in a line of bad incidents this month for the Rapids.

Monday, October 27, 2014

That's All Folks!

The Rapids ended the season but not their winless streak with a 1-0 loss in Vancouver.  More of the same sadly, a lack of any offensive bite until too late and a free kick that beat them.  With that this long season is finally at an end.  For the playoffs I'm jumping on the Revolution bandwagon.  The Midnight Riders are good people and deserve a MLS Cup and Jermaine Jones is one of my favorite Nats right now.
  • The Rapids actually went with my advice and started 7 players 25 years old or younger (Torres turns 26 on Friday).  All 3 subs were also under 25.
  • Their tallest player marked Zat Knight on our attacking set pieces.  Our tallest player (Knight) did not mark their tallest player on defensive set pieces and that player scored the only goal.  Coincidence?
  • Generally in the time he's played I haven't been impressed with Zat Knight.  Not enough to give him another $140K contract next season.  If he wanted to take a discount on that to get it down towards $100K maybe.
  • The Rapids finish at 0.941 pts/game, the second worst in team history.  Had they finished with one less point it would have "beaten" 2001's 0.923 pts/game.
  • The 8th placed finish in the West is the worst finishing position in team history.  The team has finished last in the conference before, but that was before there were 8 (or 9) teams in the conference.
  • The 14 game winless streak is tied for 8th worse all time in league history.
  • The 2 points in 14 games is the worst single-season run in league history (FSL had 1 point in 15 games between the end of 2005 and the start of 2006).
  • Colorado gave up a league worst 62 goals this season.
  • Colorado scored 43 goals this season, 13th in the league.  This is right in line with our goal scoring since the league went to 34 games in 2011 (44, 44, and 45)
Later this week I'll have my opinion on the expansion draft and a season review.  News will probably be quiet until the expansion draft (and now dispersal draft with Chivas USA being officially contracted today) in early December.
Man of the Match: Charles Eloundou.  He created all the decent offensive chances before the Vancouver goal on his own.  I'm glad he's already under contract for 2015.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Once More Unto The Breach Dear Friends

A baker's dozen without a win now

For one last time in 2014 the Rapids take the field trying to break their winless streak.  If they succeed in Vancouver they will go 5-0-0 against Canada this year, which is about all we could take out of this season,  Otherwise its 14 in a row and 1 win in 18 to end the season.  Kickoff for this last one is 8pm tomorrow on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); DF Thomas Piermayr (L MCl sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Marc Burch (hamstring tightness);  MF Kamani Hill (rib contusion)

Disciplinary Report:

Vancouver is just missing two players out injured, otherwise their at full strength.  I dare not predict a lineup at this point but if it were me I'd start every healthy player 25 years old or younger, then fill in the gaps with experienced players.  We've got nothing to lose so why not see young guys like VDC, Boss, and Eloundou?

Strategic Consideration: I remember when I had something of note to write here.  It seems so long ago.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  Vancouver needs to match what Portland does in Dallas tomorrow to clinch the last playoff spot.  Dallas kicks off 90 minutes before the Rapids so Vancouver will have to put out a full-strength lineup.  Even if they find out before kickoff that the Timbers are getting blasted by Pareja & Co. just having their best players at home on turf will be enough to beat Colorado at this point.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Front Office Q&A Wrap-Up

Last week the Rapids Front Office held a Town Hall for C38 at the Celtic.  Apologies for the late update but an illness and a busy release week schedule prevented me from getting to it until now.  Here are some of the highlights from the notes I took.

Present: Richard Fleming (RF), Paul Bravo (PB), Tim Hinchey (TH), Pablo Mastroeni (PM), Drew Moor (DM)
Format: Written questions from the audience asked to the panel by Fleming, followed by one-on-one time with the panel

Also present in the audience but not participating was Zat Knight (and wow, he's a big guy!).

The first question asked was about who sets the goals for the team and what happens if they aren't met.  TH said they set goals collectively and their goals this year, as they have been every year, were to be a consistent winner, make the playoffs, and win trophies.  Specifically in regards to this year TH said that there will be more investment in the technical staff this offseason and there will be no staff changes in the Front Office or technical staff.

PM was asked about the constant shuffling of lineups and if it hurts results.  PM said continuity was good but early in the season when the lineups were shuffling they were still getting good results, and more recently injuries and suspensions have forced many lineup changes.

PB was asked about Claudio Lopez's role in the organization and responded that while he isn't officially part of the organization right now he is scouting for the team in South America.

TH had the next question about the money available from KSE backing up the team's stated ambition.  TH said that he has no criticism for the money KSE is spending on the team since they bought the team, built the stadium, fully funded the youth academies, etc.  They have now authorized more spending on FO and technical staff, more spending on technology, and they have authorized the addition of a second Designated Player this offseason.

The next question was to PM asking about the team's style of play.  The response was that the team was taking the space that other teams we're giving them.

After a couple of less important questions (PB all but confirmed that Chivas USA is going away) TH was asked to address the communication strategy from the FO.  He said that they're working on it and there will be more investment in that.

DM got a chance at his first question when he addressed the motivation of the players right now.  He says the players are well motivated and are frustrated with the current run.

PB was asked if the goal each year is just to do good enough to make a playoff run or is it more than that.  PB responded that they want to win every trophy they have a shot at (MLS Cup, Shield, U.S. Open Cup, Rocky Mountain Cup).  TH then jumped in and said that they feel continuity is critical to success and they haven't done a very good job of that in recent seasons, citing specifically the coaching staff and player turnover.  He then laid out the specific goal of the team (quoted as accurately as I could on the fly):
 We aim to be a well run club that competes in every competition and has the success we want
Following that was a suggestion of a Caribous of Colorado inspired 3rd kit which got a lot of laughs and wasn't entirely ruled out by anyone.

Then it was time to get serious again as the first of my two questions was asked.  Roughly:
With 2 of the last 3 seasons being among the worst in team history, what will you do differently in 2015 to get a better result?
TH's answer was that they were going to use 2013, which was one of the 3 most successful in team history, as a model (and that is accurate based on the same metric, pts/game, I was using to measure the two poor seasons).  They plan to get Pablo prefoession opportunites in the offseason, specifically he's already been invited to spend time with Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.  They'll be able to plan for the transfer window in advance and make some investments.  They're investing in scouting, including the trip the week before PB took to Arsenal, PSG, and Spain.

PB was encouraged to get ex-Rapids in the area involved, which he says he's working on.

TH then got my second question:
How do you respond to Arsenal making their first trip to the States since the 80's and not even mentioning the Rapids, their partner club?
TH said it was a fair question and that they contacted the Rapdis before they made the announcement.   Arsenal's original plan wasn't to trael this offseason and TH felt that the travel roster reflected that, but the team was offered a million-dollar payday for a single game against RBNY and decided to take it (left unsaid was the Thierry Henry connection.  TH said they're working on the relationship to build up trust and a good example of it was last week's trip.  A result of that trip was that the Rapids will get access to Arsenal's scouting network now.  TH believes Arsenal will eventually make the trip to Colorado.

Pm was asked if there were any positives at all that came out of this winless streak.  There was a lot of spin in his answer but said that he will never again make the same mistakes he's made this year, which is something I guess.

TH was asked about the balance between revenue and getting new fans and which comes first.  He said that its a balance but that in July they put together an 18-month plan on how to do both.  The big news (and to me, the most interesting piece of info the whole night) is that Josh Kroenke is now taking an active interest in the club and league.  He attended the MLS Board meeting two weeks ago, one of the first that either Josh or Stan have attended and will be serving on the MLS Governance Committee.  He's also already been out to the Dick for a couple of games.

The final question asked was how we catch FSL's youth movement.  TH pointed out that the most recent U.S. U-23 team had 3 Rapids on it, two of which came through the Academy (Serna and O'Neill, plus Hairston as a draftee) while no other team had more than 1 player on the squad, and FSL had none.  Success for the Rapids is putting players on the Rapids first team and beyond, not how big the Academy is or how many college stars it has.

After that the panel members broke up to answer questions one on one with the fans present.  I had to get going so I didn't stay any longer.  Most of the evening was about what I expected.  A lot of looking forward talk, invest was the word of the evening.  The most interesting part to me was the Josh Kroenke news, maybe that's a positive sign.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Plane Got The Biggest Cheer

4 shots on goal, only 1 of which was by the home team.  A PK for the only goal of the match.  In other words, BORING.
  • Can't really complain about the PK.  Klute's arm wasn't in an unnatural position but his instinctive reaction was to pull his arm out of the way which had the effect of playing the ball straight up.  If he had stayed still it would have been a rough call.
  • Watts gets a yellow for dissent after the call, which is stupid enough.  The he commits a professional foul getting a justified yellow and ending his season early.  Dumb.
  • 13 games without a win.  That's tied for 9th worse in league history.
  • Surprisingly its not even the worst streak this season as San Jose is currently in the middle of a 14 game streak.
  • Next week Vancouver will need to match what Portland does to clinch the playoff spot.  Our game will kickoff 90 minutes after Portland-Dallas so Vancouver will probably have to start a full strength lineup.  Not good odds for breaking the streak.
  • Centennial 38's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the year were named at this game.  Player of the Year went to Jose Mari, Defensive Player of the Year to Shane O'Neill (For the record I voted for Deshorn Brown for PotY and Jose Mari for Defensive PotY).
Man of the Match: The fan that bought the banner circling the stadium.  Not so much for the message (though its hard to disagree given the current state of the team) but because I never thought I'd see a fan that passionate about the Rapids that they're willing to do something like that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Welcome The Traitor Back To Colorado

12 in a row without a win

Normally a MLS Cup 2010 picture would be above, given Dallas as the opponent tomorrow, but the Dirty Dozen was more appropriate.  Oscar Pareja makes his first trip back to Colorado after skipping town on us this offseason.  Never mind that whole "happy to sign a new contract with the Rapids" or Dan Hunt tampering thing.  Game time tomorrow is at 1pm, so the tailgate with a baked potato bar starts at 10am.  For those of you who can't, or won't, make it the game is on NBC Sports Network.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); DF Thomas Piermayr (L MCl sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Marc Burch (hamstring tightness);  MF Kamani Hill (rib contusion); DF Chris Klute (calf tightness)

Disciplinary Report:

Dallas is down former Rapid Hendrey Thomas and George "Own Goal" John to injury and Moises Hernandez to suspension.  Given that we're out of the running and beat up I have no idea who we'll see tomorrow so I'm not even going to try to predict a lineup.

Strategic Consideration: Really?

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  Dallas can clinch 4th with a draw and possibly leapfrog FSL for 3rd with a draw or win if FSL doesn't beat Portland tonight.  Meanwhile the Rapids haven't looked like they've had anything to play for since mid-summer and I don't expect that to change.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Twelfth Verse, Same As The First

The Rapids took the lead then mental defensive errors cost them the win.  That's a new one.  Oh wait, no, that's the same thing we've seen over and over again in this losing streak.  Only this time it was against possibly the worst team in the league.  I say possibly because a reasonable argument could be made that we're the worst team in the league at this moment.
  • Pretty ball movement on the Rapids goal.  Eloundou suckered in the Chivas defender and dropped it off to Neeskens at the perfect time.
  • And credit to Neeskens for beating Kennedy near post, not many scorers pull that off. 
  • Gotta love a rookie coming in and on his first touch slaloming through four defenders like they were traffic cones for an easy goal.  Or at least I'd love it if he was a Rapid.  Here's an idea defense, KNOCK HIM DOWN!
  • Of course Zat Knight, tallest guy on the field by a decent margin, experienced EPL defender, gets beat on a header for the winning goal.  Nice job.
  • Jared Watts is not, not, not a CB.  Starting Wynne on the bench so Watts could start was pointless.  Well, it got Chivas 3 points.
  • Tied and looking for a wining goal we go to Kamani Hill and Edson Buddle while Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez stay on the bench?  SMH
  • The Rapids need at least 4 points in their last two games to avoid the 2nd worst season in their history (2001 being the worst, which they've already beaten).  I don't see them getting it.
  • They would need to win their last two games to do better than their 2012 season, currently the 3rd worst in team history.  That's clearly not happening.
Man of the Match: Charles Eloundou.  He's clearly improving from the beginning of the year, looking up more and not just dribbling close enough to shoot wildly.  Given his age I'm still excited about what he could become.  Watching Cameroon play Sierra Leone this weekend there's still an opportunity for him to get back in the National Team picture too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Our Last, Best Hope For Victory

The year is 2014.  The place: StubHub Center

Looking at our last 3 games, tomorrow's match against Chivas USA is our most likely opportunity to win a game this season.  It is also likely our last game ever against Chivas USA as all signs point to the team being contracted at the end of the season.  Game time tomorrow is 8:30pm.  Important note, Fleming and 'Celo will have the call on Altitude 2 as the Avs will be on the flagship.  Altitude 2 is 105/900 (SD/HD) on Comcast in the Denver area.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: F Edson Buddle (R Achilles tendinitis); DF Chris Klute (calf tightness)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca; MF Thomas Piermayr (1 good behavior game left)

International Absences:
Jamaica - FW Deshorn Brown
U.S. U-23s - DF Shane O'Neill; MF Marlon Hairston; MF Dillon Serna

Yeah, that's ugly and we'll miss O'Neill next week to as he serves his suspension.  Chivas will be missing former Rapids Nathan Sturgis to suspension, Chavez to international absence, and Rivero to injury, along with 3 other injured players.  Pablo has talked this week about shaking up the lineup so this is a complete guess:

But really, who knows.

Strategic Consideration: Having a strategic consideration requires having a strategy, something the Rapids have been lacking in recent months.

Prediction: 2-2 draw.  Goals by Torres and Powers.  Both teams suck and are missing key components.  Their defenses have been horrible.  This will be ugly soccer with no result.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Catching Up On Rapids News

Going back over the last couple of weeks to catch up on the Rapids news.

  • Mullan is officially retiring.  No surprise given the news we've heard this year about his knees.  Great player, and great career, he will be missed.
  • Rapids to be part of 2015 Desert Diamond Cup.  This is the annual preseason tournament in Tucson that the Rapids competed in this past year.
  • As we saw this weekend, Zat Knight was officially signed.  He is reportedly signed only for this season, with an option for next year.  That's the best way for the team to approach this.
  • Powers signs a contract extension, reportedly for 3 guaranteed years.  Great move by the team.
  • Brown, Hairston, and Serna called up for National Team duty this weekend.  Good for them and now that O'Neill is suspended he'll join them (though he'll still have to serve his suspension when he returns).  Won't make it easy to beat Chivas though.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rapids Officially Eliminated From Playoffs In Loss

11 in a row without a win, a new record for the Rapids.  With the 4-1 loss we are officially out of the playoffs, though we've been unofficially out of the playoffs since late August.  Yesterday's game played out like all our losses recently, the other team was better than us.  Other notes:
  • Deshorn Brown got his 10th goal of the year, making him only the 3rd player in Rapids history to have back-to-back seasons with double-digit goals.  Conor Casey (who did it in 3 straight years) and Mark Chung were the other two.  John Spencer is the only other player to have double-digit goals in a season multiple times.
  • Brown also moved out of a tie with Carrieri for 9th all-time scorer in team history.
  • Marvell Wynne had a horrible half, with an amateur hour PK give-away and constantly being out of position.  Subbing him at half was a good move.
  • Taking his place was Zat Knight!  Look, our big midseason signing finally makes an appearance.  Too bad it wasn't until 45 minutes before we were officially eliminated.
  • Irwin made some good saves but also showed some rust/lack of confidence.  He's still our best choice though.
  • O'Neill's yellow causes him to be suspended for the game next week.
  • Sanchez is trying to do too much with the ball.  Given where this team is though, its hard to blame him.
  • This team really looks like its given up and is going through the motions.  A few individual bright spots (Brown) but generally they're just playing out the string.
Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown.  Good goal, had a great header that was stolen from him, and was actually involved the whole game which is more than I can say about some of his teammates.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rapids Try To Avoid Record 11th Winless Game

Enough results for every field player

Sorry for going dark, I was on vacation in Orlando.  Expect a recap post of the news of the last two weeks sometime next week.  Up first though is Sunday's home game against Seattle.  As we see the Rapids have gone 10 games without a win, going back to July 25th.  That ties the team's longest winless streak so failing to win Sunday would set another less-than-desirable record.  Kickoff is at 1pm so the tailgate, featuring fish tacos, stats at 10am.  The game is on Altitude and UniMas.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); MF Jared Watts (L hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: F Edson Buddle (R Achilles tendinitis); Mf Kamani Hill (L glute tightness); MF Jose Mari (R quad soreness); MF Vicente Sanchez (R knee soreness)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Carlos Lavarez
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: DF Shane O'Neill ( 3 good behavior games left); MF Thomas Piermayr (1 good behavior game left)

Alvarez was suspended by the DisCo this week after entering the field of play from the bench celebrating Torres goal last week.  Weak sauce.  There's been no update on our injury report for a week so its out of date but the best we have to work with.  Seattle has a player injured and two questionable.  My guess at the XI:

At this point I'm just guessing, who knows what Pablo will do.  He hasn't decided on a keeper at last report so I figure Nasco will get the start.

Strategic Consideration: Dempsey + Martins.  They're kind of good.

Prediction: 2-1 loss.  Goal by Brown.  Seattle is really good and we aren't.  We'll set a new winless streak record and got to Chivas next week with our best chance this season to break it without Brown, Hairston, and Serna (all called up for international duty next week).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rapids - Earthquakes Tomorrow

7pm tomorrow night at the Dick the Rapids try to avoid tying their longest ever winless streak at 10 games.Really that's the ONLY thing of interest in this game at this point. Colorado is just playing out the string on this lost season and San Jose is in even worse shape.  The game is on Altitude with Fleming and Balboa on the call.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Sanchez.  I can't predict a win at this point until the team proves they can win but SJ is bad so we'll get a draw.

(Yes, short preview for this one.  Hard to get too excited at this point and life is getting in the way)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Letter To The Rapids FO

Patrick Quinn has allowed me to share his letter to the Colorado Rapids organization, which nicely sums up my current feelings after last night's game as well.

To Whom It May Concern,

It really and truly is hard to put into words how incredibly disappointed I am with this club. In fact, I do not think I have ever been more disappointed in this club since 1996. That in and of itself is quite impressive considering how generally mediocre this club has been for most of its existence.

With still a month left of fixtures, the season is already effectively over from a competitive standpoint. In fact you could argue that the season ended back in July since that was the last time we won a game. This entire season is a failure, and it is due entirely to a culmination of issues you have created upon yourself. I have never, in the 20 years of supporting this club, have seen such a comprehensive failure of an organization across the board.

I turn on ESPN any time in the last two weeks and the big topic right now in sports seems to be the concept of “accountability”. Well, I think it is high time you, as an entire organization, need to be held accountable for the embarrassing and insulting product you have put on the field.

Let’s start with the roster. The roster you have assembled is arguably the weakest in all of MLS today. You have been remarkably stingy when it comes to acquiring new players that could have a genuine impact on the team. According to player salary information provided by the MLS Players Union, you are in fact one of the lowest spenders in the league. Only Chivas USA spend less on total player salaries. New England was formally below us until they did something a little over a month ago that the Rapids have never done in their history, which was sign a high profile Designated Player (in Jermaine Jones) to a seven figure salary.

However, the roster issues go far deeper than simply not spending money. When you do spend money, you have done so in a haphazard fashion. You continue to retain players such as Edson Buddle and Danny Mwanga who command ludicrously high salaries and have contributed essentially nothing to the team since they were first signed. Moreover, when you attempt to invest in a DP status player like Gabby Torres, you never play him…and are seemingly unable to motivate him to even keep his fitness during the offseason (something that Buddle has also been guilty of).

The roster issues go even deeper than that. You have been unable to plan and build a roster from Day 1 that has the ability to compete over the course of a full MLS season. We saw this under Oscar Pareja, and we are seeing it today under Pablo Mastroeni. There have been clear flaws in this roster that have persisted even before Pablo was considered for the head coaching job, and you did nothing to solve those issues. We have needed a target striker since 2011 when Conor Casey became injured and disinterested in playing here. Four years later and this is still and issue you have failed to fix. We have not had a viable set piece specialist since Jeff Larentowicz left the club, and you still have failed to fix this issue.

This year alone, when injuries settled in and the roster became thin, you did nothing to try and give the squad the support it needed. Goal scoring has been a serious problem, transition play has been a serious problem, we haven’t had two heathy choice center backs in months, and now we seem to have serious issues with goalkeeping. Your “solution” to this mountainous amount of roster problems has been to do nothing. You have literally done nothing to address any of these issues even when the team was still competitively positioned for a playoff spot. The international transfer window closed and you signed no one. The MLS roster freeze deadline came and went and you signed no one.

Your solution to fill roster holes is by either acquiring inexperienced players through a broken and obsolete college draft system, or by acquiring old players that are injury prone or no other MLS team would touch. Sure, you might get a Dillon Powers, but for every one of him there are 4 or 5 guys like Kindle, Griffiths, and Yamada. Sure, you might get a Vincente Sanchez, but for every one of him there are 4 or 5 guys like Edu, Harbottle, and Zapata.

This is not how you build a winning team. You build a winning team by fielding a squad that has a healthy mix of players from multiple age groups. Moreover, you bring in players that are experienced and are at or near their career peak. There are literally hundreds of examples where this is the case, yet you seem complacent and/or ignorant to what is conventional wisdom to most people.

Of course, we must also consider what you do with the roster you have. You have tried to implement an experimental fitness system that attempts to keep players in peak fitness and to avoid injuries. Anyone at this point can tell you that this fitness system is total bunk and a complete failure. This roster has been plagued with many serious player injuries since winning MLS Cup, and in many of those cases have directly resulted in determining the fate of the season. It is objectively fair to say that this club has done a much worse job coping with injuries than its peers across the league. Teams like Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, and LA Galaxy have all had to deal with significant injury problems, yet they are able to cope and remain competitive. The evidence is clear that your entire fitness system is not working.

Part of the reason other teams are more successful is because they have a genuine system and chemistry. They have built well rounded rosters that are able to adapt and still play well as a unit. This team has no chemistry, and your fitness system is a big reason for this. When the team has clearly and desperately needed chemistry and cohesion, you instead chose to move players in and out of the squad in a completely nonsensical fashion that accomplishes nothing. Your roster meddling has even managed to ruin the confidence of all three of our goalkeepers.

Where is the accountability for failing to solve issues so simple that even novices to the game can identify? You have an organizational structure that is bizarre and seemingly ineffective. What does Paul Bravo even do as a technical director? What does Pablo even do as a head coach? Why does this club bring in someone like Metgod only to have him leave before even completing a single season? Who is in charge of building this roster? Who is in charge of signing new players? Who is in charge of tactics? Your organizational structure is a cipher wrapped in an enigma, and it clearly has done you no favors.

Speaking of enigmas, the clubs infrastructure for the future is highly suspect as well. Why is there no formal scouting team? Why are we one of the last clubs in MLS to find a lower division affiliate? Where is the visible connection between the academy teams and the senior side? Why do we lose local players to other clubs? If things are truly this vague and mismanaged now, it is safe to say the future is extremely bleak.

The upper management of this club has talked at length over the last few years about changing the club culture and finding an identity. They have been open and willing to speak to the public on numerous occasions about it. In spite of all these words, the one thing that truly strikes me is that I have never once heard talk of the club culture having an actual level of expectation, and demanding success from everyone within the organization. That is what separates the best organizations from everyone else. That is why organizations like Sporting KC are where they are today, and why the Rapids continue to be a laughing stock in MLS and in company with other broken organizations like New England and Chivas USA. If you do not strive to be great, you will never be great.

Everything you have done related to soccer operations this year has been a total and complete failure. All of you; from the technical staff, to the coaches, to the players, and the management that allowed this to happen; you have all been an embarrassment to the badge and colors of this club.

If you really care about the club you work for, if you even care half as much as the fans, and want to earn back the respect of the supporters, you first need to apologize, as an organization, to the fans. It would also go a long way to generate some good will by also compensating the fans in some way; be it a refund for a single game, reduced rates on season tickets next year, etc. The fans deserve better than what you have given us, and what you have done over the past several years and has culminated in 2014 is not remotely acceptable. It is not acceptable to the supporters, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to you either.

The second thing you must do is both show and explain what you are going to do going forward to ensure that this never happens again. Make bold moves that the fans will notice and appreciate. Cut dead wood from the roster, bring in good players with a track record, revamp your scouting and academy infrastructure, scrap that stupid fitness system, and consolidate the management structure of soccer operations.

Finally, and most importantly, keep the fans up to date with the goings on inside the club. Supporters want to have a connection with you, and giving them a window into the club both increases their understanding and enhances their connection to this organization. Hire a PR team. You would benefit greatly from having one.

What separates soccer from all other sports is that supporting a team is being a part of a community; and building a community is what is going to make the sport grow in this state, and have people continue to buy tickets and fill stadiums for many years to come.


Patrick Quinn
Long-Time Rapids Season Ticket Holder and Centennial 38 Member

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Its Still A Rivalry Game

Just say no to Utah

The Rocky Mountain Cup might be over for the year but this is still a rivalry game and the Rapids still need to put a beat down on FSL.  A loss tomorrow would make the Rapids the first team to be swept in RMC play in the 10 years of competition.  Game time tomorrow is 8pm but since the game is on NBC Sports the kickoff will be more like 8:20 or so.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); MF Jared Watts (L hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain); MF Vicente Sanchez (R knee soreness)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Thomas Piermayr (2 good behavior games left)

FSL is missing 3 players to injury and Nat Borchers to suspension.  LaBrocca was suspended by the DisCo today for his rash tackle at the end of last week's draw with the Timbers.  A fair suspension as it was a horrible tackle.  My guess at the XI:
Buddle is battling injury and is not expected to be available.  Yes, Nasco is expected to start in goal again, no I don't know why.  Torres would be the obvious start up top but...  The rest is guess work.

Strategic Consideration: Just get a win.

Prediction: 2-2 draw.  Goals by Brown and Powers.  I don't see us breaking our winless streak, instead extending it to 9 games (tied for 2nd worst in team history).  The Rapids have enough to avoid getting swept in the RMC though and get a point.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Odds and Ends 9/16/14

  • Sanchez out 2-3 weeks due to injury
  • Rumors have the Rapids announcing their USL partnership for next season by aligning with the Queen City Soccer Club in Charlotte, who are taking over the Charlotte Eagles USL spot when the Eagles move to the PDL next season.
Sadly its pretty clear there will be no partnership with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks who will start play next season.  From the outside it appears the relationship between the Rapids and Switchbacks is frosty, which is too bad.  I don't know why the teams aren't working together but its a lost opportunity as now they'll be competing against each other, which is lose-lose for fans.  For example, the Switchbacks are hosting a friendly between LA II and Arizona next month, on the same night as the final Rapids home game.  Fans have to choose between the teams instead of them helping each other out.
  • John Metgod has left the team and returned home to the Netherlands
The Rapids announcement is very vague as to why, but a report translated by Google from Holland makes it sound like he only had a short-term contract and they couldn't successfully negotiate a long-term deal.  Odd to have a coach's contract run out mid-season but since the season is lost already it worked out.
  • Zat Knight still expected to sign
According to the Denver Post the Rapids did file all necessary paperwork to sign Knight before yesterday's 3pm roster freeze deadline.  He's currently back in England getting his immigration paperwork processed and will be announced once he returns.  He's expected to be ready for the next home game against San Jose on the 27th.  Current reports is that its a short term deal for evaluation purposes and the team is not committed for 2015 yet.  Sounds like a good move, get him 5 games of MLS play and see if there's value there.
  • Pablo is expecting Nasco to start in goal against FSL on Friday.
Where's that brick-wall head banging smiley when you need it.  Hopefully this will do:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Well, We Didn't Lose.

The Rapids ended their 7 game losing streak but continued their winless streak with a 2-2 draw against the Timbers.  In a game marred by lousy refereeing a draw was probably a fair result with how the teams played.  Again Colorado gave up the first goal right before half (the cleanest goal of the game) leveled the score right after half, took the lead, then gave it up late.
  • Just a badly officiated game.  The PK was questionable, the other Rapids goal might have been offside, and the second Portland goal was assisted by a clear handball.
  • Berner did not look good on either goal.  Between the Nasco red last week and Berner's performance this week let's just put Irwin back in goal and leave it.
  • I don't get the lineup for this game.  We didn't lose, so I guess it worked, but I don't know why we're giving starts to LaBrocca and Hill over Hairston and Serna at this point in this season.
  • Sanchez out 2-3 weeks injured, which is why he didn't play.  *sigh*
  • Brown should have had a hat-trick, not just 1 goal.  He needs to figure out how to put away the opportunities his speed creates.
  • Brown just needs 1 more goal to hit double-digits for a second straight year.
  • Good to see O'Neill back.  You could see the rust but he'll get better and it allowed Wynne to return to the right side where he's better.
  • We're 6 points out of the playoffs with 6 games left.  Despite the point the season is still over.
  • Next week we're in Sandy to try to avoid tying our second longest winless streak.  Also we need at least a point to avoid becoming the first team to be swept in the Rocky Mountain Cup.
  • And with this week's results we have been eliminated from finishing first or second in the West for the 19th straight year (yes, that means the Rapids have never finished above 3rd in the West).
Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown.  He earned the first penalty and scored a great goal for the second, even if both were questionable.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rapids Hope For Something To Change Against Portland

Lance and the Rapids both lost 7 in a row

After setting a new record losing streak and worst loss last week the Rapids will try to avoid their 3rd worst single-season winless streak by beating the Timbers tomorrow night at the Dick.  Just for the record the top two are 10 games (2007) and 9 games (2001).  Its the Home Brew Contest at teh C28 tailgate before the game, starting at 4pm.  Kickoff is at 7 with the game on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (L ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); MF Jared Watts (L hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain); MF Vicente Sanchez (R knee soreness)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Thomas Piermayr (3 good behavior games left)

International Absences:
Gabriel Torres - Panama

Portland has nobody missing for any reason, completely full strength.  We've got a mess but what else is new.  My guess at our starting XI:

Buddle is battling injury and is not expected to be available, nor is O'Neill.  Brown played into the second half for Panama on Tuesday so his lactate levels probably won't be high enough to start.  That leaves pretty minimal options up front.  Thus the Powers/Alvarez/Sanchez trio.

Strategic Consideration: Put ball in net, keep ball out of net.  At this point its just about fundamentals.

Prediction: 1-1 draw.  Goal by Sanchez.  After 7 games we finally get a bounce our way and stop the losing streak, but we still set our 3rd worst single-season winless streak with a draw.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Holding Off On Season Tickets

No, don't think I will at the moment

The Rapids 2015 season ticket drive has started.  Currently I sit in 108 so my season tickets are handled by Centennial 38.  Just to be clear, my comments in this post about not buying tickets yet have nothing to do with C38 or the C38 experience.  I couldn't be happier with the way the group has handled 108 and being our "ticket reps".

As enjoyable as the C38 group is though, I'm not rushing to the website to buy my 2015 season tickets.  C38 has generously agreed to hold seats in 108 for their current season ticket holders at the current price until Thanksgiving.  In past years I have normally set up my tickets for the next season as soon as they've become available but this year I've decided to wait.  The Rapids have spent the last month plus convincing me that they're not serious about the rest of the 2014 season, and I want to see some evidence that they're serious about 2015.  I made this as a joke originally, but every day that goes by since convinces me more and more that its the attitude the Rapids Front Office is taking:

We're currently in a seven game losing streak that started when we lost Shane O'Neill and later Drew Moor to what appear to be season-ending injuries.  Despite that the Rapids have yet to make a move to reinforce the back line and their only rumored move (Zat Knight, who was at training today) doesn't fill me with much confidence.  Our last game was a historic defeat and the Front Office continues to be silent about it.  Our big signing last season, Gabriel Torres, can't even get on the field at this point but Edson Buddle, the biggest waste of money on the team, starts.  Then you have the coaching "search" this past offseason, which I've detailed in many posts.  Heck, even the mini-donut guy left and I loved having donuts during the game (though as I understand it he got a contract for the Pepsi Center, so its hard to blame that one on the Rapids).

There's only really one lever fans have to influence their teams, their wallet.  Why should I hand over the cost of season tickets to the Rapids FO right now?  They haven't shown they're going to do anything other than bank that money and continue to not care about the results on the field.  This season is over, there's no way we're going to make the playoffs.  That gives the Rapids 7 games and the first 5 weeks of the offseason to convince me that things will be different in 2015.  Otherwise I'll save some money next year, attend less games, and the Front Office will have to find another way to sell my ticket.