Monday, April 28, 2014

Another Seattle Team Blows Out Another Denver Team

45 minutes of solid play, 45 minutes + stoppage time of getting run over by the Sounders.  It took longer than the Seahawks over the Broncos, but the result was the same, total domination by Seattle.  The game really changed in the 10 minutes after half.  The Rapids gave up their first first-half goal of the season just before the break, but it was the 2 quick goals to start the second half that ended the game.  After that it was only Serna's effort that kept it from being a total rout.

My strategic consideration was Dempsey and Martins not running wild.  It took 45 minutes, but Dempsey and Martins ran wild all over the Rapids..

Other Observations:
  • First and foremost, the Rapids lost to the better team.  Even at full strength we weren't going to win this game with the way the Seattle offense was firing.  Maybe we get a draw.
  • That said, we didn't have to look so bad doing it.
  • Irwin had some big saves but also had a couple of blunders.  Everyone's allowed one off game though.
  • Moor was left exposed over and over, he could have done better (especially on the first goal when he had more time than he thought) but he didn't get any help from the rest of his back line.
  • O'Neill, sleeping on Martins goal
  • Piermayr just let Clint Dempsey (Clint Dempsey!) go for a free header on the second goal
  • Jose Mari lets Dempsey (again, Dempsey!) get ball side of him on the first goal and just lets him go looking for the offside.
  • Bad clearance on the second goal but beautiful heel flick from Dempsey to set the goal up.
  • Of course a whopping 4 shots on target (including the goal) left us very little chance of making up the deficit.  Serna had 2, Brown and Torres each had 1
  • Serna now has the second most shots on goal on the team, this with less minutes than anyone who's started a game other than Hill and Watts.
  • Last week I said that I liked Serna coming off the bench instead of starting.  Scratch that, Serna should be starting over a number of our midfielders.
  • Namely LaBrocca and Sturgis.  LaBrocca had the pass to set up Serna's goal, but other than that they were both invisible.  The 4 man midfield should be Powers, Sanchez, Serna, and Jose Mari.
  • There were 32 passes between Martins and Dempsey, 9 between our starting strikers.  That might explain a large part of the difference in offensive ability.
  • BTW Marcelo, if you're reading this, I got that number (which you asked for in the broadcast) from's stat page on the game.  Its available for every game this season next time you need to do some research.
  • Of course the broadcast was playing at the same level as the team.  The Seattle starting lineup filled with pictures of the Rapids almost matched last year's multiple GK starting XI for the Rapids.
  • Oh, and Richard Fleming, there's a reason that Yedlin has passed Brown, despite finishing behind him and Powers in RotY voting, as a candidate for the U.S. Nats.  Brown is Jamaican and not eligible.  He has, however, played and scored for the Jamaican Nats already.
  • Ugly game all around.  Hopefully next weekend agaisnt LA will be an improvement.
Man of the Match: Dillon Serna.  Great goal for his first professional one (and first by any homegrown player for the Rapids) and his activity was the only thing really dangerous all game.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Winless In Seattle

Oh wait, I'm early for the Broncos beat down in Seattle next season, right?

Colorado goes to its house of horrors tomorrow, their 10th trip to Seattle for a competitive game, with 1 draw and 8 losses to their name the first 9 times.  Also 6 goals scored and 21 allowed.  Seattle is the only MLS team the Rapids have never beaten on the road (though that 8 game record includes USOC games when Seattle was in the USL).  Of course 2 weeks ago we beat the other team with a top American National Team player we'd never beaten at home, Toronto, so maybe this is our year.  Game time tomorrow is an annoying 2pm, and unfortunately I won't be able to watch the game live as I have to be in the Springs tomorrow afternoon (so the Sounder fans in my family reading this, don't text me with updates!), I'll catch it on the DVR tomorrow night.  The game will be on Altitude with Fleming and probably Balboa on the mics.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Marc Burch (R hamstring); M Jose Mari (quad)

 Seattle has 3 players out or questionable.  Dillon Powers has also been absent from training with a knock and seems doubtful for tomorrow.  Jose Mari had some positive signs this week but with the turf Pablo may not want to risk him.  Sanchez and Buddle are also always questionable to go on turf.  this makes a lineup prediction difficult but here's my best shot.:

Obviously this assumes that Jose Mari and Powers can't go.  In that scenario I think Pablo will risk Sanchez will playing on turf.  If Jose Mari can go we might see Sanchez get a game off and Chavez in the middle.  On D if it ain't broke don't fix it, and if Buddle doesn't go the starting forwards are obvious.

Strategic Consideration: Dempsey and Martins.  There the engine for the Sounders offense right now, with one setting the other up and vice versa.  Keeping them from getting started will be the only chance an undermanned Rapids have of getting any points out of this one.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  Turf, a city where we've never won, and a number of missing players.  I don't see how this combination works for us.  If we're good we can get a point, but I don't see a win without a lucky bounce (or another PK).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Find Our Lack Of Firepower Disturbing

6 games in:
Deshorn Brown: 448 minutes, 18 shots, 6 shots on goal, 1 goal
Edson Buddle: 341 minutes, 9 shots, 3 shots on goal, 1 goal
Gabriel Torres: 241 minutes, 4 shots, 0 shots on goal, 0 goals
Combined: 1030 minutes, 31 shots, 9 shots on goal, 2 goals

If the Rapids had 2 strikers on the field at all times it would be 1080 minutes, so essentially our top 3 strikers have combined for all that time.  In it they're averaging about 5 shots and a shot and a half on goal per game.

This is, clearly, not good enough.  If it weren't for Sanchez's PKs (to be fair, one of which was earned by Brown) and Jose Mari's pair of bombs we would be in horrible shape right now.  Soccer is a team game, and the Rapids shouldn't be discounted because of those goals, but they aren't the type of goals we can depend on going forward this season.  Last weekend we saw what happens when one of those unusual goals doesn't turn up, a dominant performance by the Rapids with only 1 shot on goal (from Watts) to show for it and 1 point.

Each of the big 3 seem to have their own problems.  Buddle is holding the ball decently but his distribution has been poor most of the season, leading to a lack of quality chances being created.  Brown can't seem to keep possession of the ball to draw the defense and open up Buddle for a shot.  Torres, of course, can't seem to get on the field until late and then he never seems to impact the game.  Then, when any of the three of them do get a look at goal, they seem to hit it everywhere but between the pipes.

Some combination of Buddle, Brown, and Torres need to get on the same page and they need to do it yesterday.  Any combination of those 3 can work but it seems like the Buddle - Brown combo is the one that Pablo is favoring.  That means that Buddle needs to find Brown in space and Brown has to be able to hold possession so that Buddle can find the areas left when the defense collapses on Brown.  Oh, and they both need to figure out that the ball is supposed to go inside the white rectangle, not outside of it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dirty Punk

The title refers to the Clash song and the E-Quakes, not Piermayr

A whole lot of wasted time this week.  90 minutes, 1 shot on target, combined(!) between the teams.  The Rapids dominated most of the play but had no real threat on goal.  San Jose hit the crossbar in the first minute and then didn't make Irwin make a stop.  Just generally a lousy game.

My strategic consideration was not playing San Jose's physical game.  San Jose tried to out muscle us (seen here at its worst) but the Rapids didn't take the bait for the most part.

Other Observations:
  • Our only shot on goal came from a long shot by Watts in the first half.  Watts!
  • Seriously, there was a close to 5 minute period in the second half where San Jose could barely get the ball out of their own penalty area before the Rapids regained possession and pressed the attack.  In that whole time, 0 shots on goal.
  • In the last 4 games Buddle, Brown, and Torres have a total of 4 shots on goal.  Buddle had one against KC and two in Toronto (including the goal).  Brown had one in Vancouver.  Not good enough from our forwards.
  • That means that watts had as many shots on goal in this game as Brown and Torres have had in the last 4 games combined.
  • Dillon Serna was a charge of dynamite when he came into the game.  He probably deserves to start but I like the energy he brings off the bench.
  • Buddle had some hustle and a few good passes to Brown, but didn't do what he's paid for, score.
  • Neither LaBrocca or Sturgis are doing it for me this year and this game didn't convince me of anything different.
  • Jose Mari being available might have made the difference in this one.  Having to come out and defend his bombs could be what was missing to free up space inside for the forwards.
  • Watts had a solid game until the last 10 minute or so, when he went into complete meltdown.  Far too many poor decisions in those last few minutes.
  • Great to see Klute back, he combined well with Serna.
  • Our corner kicks were HORRIBLE.  10 corners and not one of them resulted in a decent chance on goal.
  • Our free kicks started out decent but by the end of the game Sanchez was floating them far too long.
  • Every Rapids game this season has gone into halftime at 0-0.
  • 11 points in our first 6 games is our best start ever!
Man of the Match: Thomas Piermayr.  Just solid play on the right side and while he was beat a couple of times late, most MLS right backs would have been beat in those scenarios.  I think the Rapids have their right back, finally.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spanish Bombs

The Rapids wouldn't mind some long shots from Jose Mari

Colorado is finally back home tomorrow, facing the San Jose Earthquakes at the Dick.  After missing the last home game its been far too long since I've seen them in person.  San Jose is still looking for their first win this year, while the Rapids have a chance to put up their best ever point total after their first 6 games with at least a draw.  Game time tomorrow is 4pm, with the tailgate starting at 1pm.  If you can't make it, Fleming and Crookham will be calling the game on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Chris Klute (R hamstring strain)

Vicente Sanchez and his wife Paula welcomed Mia Valentina into the world on Wednesday so he will be available tomorrow.  Congrats to the whole family!  Meanwhile San Jose has 5 players out, including the annoying Steven Lenhart, and another 3 questionable.  Pablo has almost a full squad to choose from, so it will be interesting to see who starts.  Here's my guess:

In defense, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  The midfield and attack positions are more of a question mark, but after Sanchez got some rest the last couple of weeks I think we see him back in, and Sturgis seems to fit a bit better on the left than LaBrocca.  If Pablo wants more attack we could see Serna in Sturgis' place.  We may see Chavez if Pablo wants to give him a shot to show his old team what he can do.  Brown worked coming off the bench last week so I think we see the Torres/Buddle pairing again.

Strategic Consideration: Don't get sucked into playing San Jose's physical game.  It feels odd to say that about a Rapids team, but this isn't the same Rapids of a few years ago.  San Jose will try to make the game physical but that works in their favor.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Torres and Buddle.  San Jose is not good and this is a great chance for the Rapids to show they don't play down to their opponent.  Buddle gets #100 at home and Torres finally gets on the score sheet.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rapids Make It Two For Two In Canada

3 points makes even this ugly game look beautiful.  A lousy pitch and both teams missing their most creative midfielders (Sanchez and Bradley) led to a lot of over the top balls and aimless passing.  The Rapids did a good job of adapting and finding a way to win, but neither team is going to look at this game as a particularly good showing.  Credit to Colorado for getting the job done even in less than ideal circumstances.

My strategic consideration was dealing with Michael Bradley.  Turns out we didn't have to as he didn't play but I think Pablo's lineup assumed he would.  4 ball-holding central midfielders was clearly designed to clog the middle and prevent Bradley (had he been there) from doing anything.

Other Observations:
  • Great team play led up to the goal.  Piermayr found Serna with a great cross-field pass, Serna and Buddle both got two touches during the passing, and Powers followed his first heavy touch all the way to the end line to keep the play alive.
  • Serna's assist was the first assist (or goal) in team history by a homegrown player.
  • Brown starting on the bench, but he seemed to find some space when he came on with fresh legs.
  • Though Serna's entry is really what turned the game.  He was dangerous from his first touch.
  • Torres, on the other hand, was quiet.  He also appears to be carrying a few extra pounds, much like Buddle early last year.  Hopefully that's not the cause of his slow start.
  • You would think that the number of poor fields we'er seeing in the league early this season (NY and Toronto for the Rapids, other league games) would cause the talk of a schedule switch to stop, but it won't.
  • Powers had another good game.  Clearly the best player in either team's midfield.
  • Its starting to look like we may have found our back line.  Klute (or Burch until he's healthy) - Moor - O'Neill - Piermayr have worked well together the last two games.
  • 10 points in 5 games ties the Rapids best total after 5 games (2010).  A result this weekend would set a new record through 6 games.
  • Of course in 2010 we lost our 6th game at San Jose, our opponents at home next Saturday...
Man of the Match: Edson Buddle.  In an ugly game where nobody really stood out, the scorer of the game winning goal deserves to be the MOTM.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Colorado Attempts To Do Something They've Never Done

Rapids @BMO, 0 points, 1 trophy

A second trip to the Great White North in a row as the Rapids are in Toronto tomorrow.  Colorado has never even drawn TFC in Toronto, must less beat them, but despite that it is the scene of our greatest triumph as it was there we won MLS Cup 2010.  Tomorrow's game is at 2pm on Altitude, with the main C38 watch party being at The Armoury.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Chris Klute (R hamstring strain); D Dillon Serna (L ankle sprain)

M Vicente Sanchez (Wife overdue and could go into labor at any point so he did not travel)

Toronto is hurting, already ruing out DP Jermain Defoe along with 3 others and 4 more players are questionable including DP Michael Bradley who is expected to be a game-time decision.  Tomorrow's lineup is hard to predict as Pablo could do any number of things given the availability of players, but here's my guess:

I think Pablo will go back to the main 4-2-3-1 he's been using this season, with perhaps Sturgis in for LaBrocca.  Piermayr traveled to Austria this week to finalize some of his work visa paperwork, he's supposed to be back for the game but I doubt he starts.  We could see Torres back up front with Hill or Eloundou in midfield as well.

Strategic Consideration: Michael Bradley.  My bet is that he plays, and Jose Mari is going to have his work cut out for him if he does.  So far he appears to be the best player in MLS this year.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Torres.  If Bradley doesn't play we could have a shot at a win, but I feel like a draw is more likely either way.  Torres finally gets on the scoreboard for the season and the Rapids get their first point in Toronto.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Salaries And A Trade

The union released the player salaries today, here are the Rapids.  The first number is the base salary, the second is the guaranteed 2014 salary.  The cap hit number is generally between the two.

Berner John               $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Brown Deshorn         $75,000.00 $123,000.00
Buddle Edson            $325,000.00 $325,000.00
Burch Marc               $85,000.00 $85,000.00
Chavez Marvin           $200,000.00 $200,000.00
Eloundou Charles       $48,825.00 $53,825.00
Griffiths Brenton         $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Hairston Marlon         $70,000.00 $93,000.00
Hill Kamani                $48,825.00 $48,825.00
Irwin Clint                   $75,000.00 $87,000.00
Klute Chris                  $75,000.00 $80,144.10
LaBrocca Nick           $135,000.00 $153,333.33
Mari Jose                    $230,000.00 $261,000.00
Moor Drew                 $235,000.00 $247,000.00
Mullan Brian                $48,500.00 $48,500.00
Mwanga Danny           $130,000.00 $171,250.00
Nasco Joe                   $50,000.00 $52,693.83
O'Neill Shane              $56,250.00 $67,750.00
Piermayr Thomas         $70,008.00 $74,429.56
Powers Dillon               $95,150.00 $127,650.00
Sanchez Vincente         $210,000.00 $286,666.67
Serna Dillon                  $52,500.00 $65,500.00
Sturgis Nathan              $114,000.00 $120,333.33
Torres Gabriel              $250,000.00 $262,500.00
Van de Casteele Grant $48,500.00 $60,000.00
Watts Jared                  $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Wynne Marvell             $200,000.00 $285,000.00

  • Only 3 guys making the league-minimum $36.5K, Berner, Griffiths, and Watts.  No surprise given that they're 2 second round picks and a mid-season depth pickup.
  • Mullan is only at 50K.  Apparently the Rapids have set aside a roster spot if needed each year for a player who's made a big contribution to the club and is transitioning to his post-playing career.  Last year it was Smith, this year its Mullan.  A loud round of applause for the FO for doing this.  #OneClub
  • Buddle + Chavez + Mwanga = 700K who didn't play in last week's win in Vancouver.  I have hopes for Chavez and his 200K but Buddle and Mwanga continue to look like too much salary for not enough production.
  • I'm surprised to see both Sturgis and LaBrocca making over $125K as they both tend to slot into the same spot next to Jose Mari and it will be odd to see them both on the field at the same time.
  • Both Moor and Wynne we re-signed using the league's retention fund so their cap hits aren't as large as these numbers make it look.
  • Last year's RapKids (Brown, Irwin, Klute, Powers) all got deserved raises.
  • Our salary cap hit is somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million dollars, depending on how much of Moor and Wynne aren't counted against our cap.  That gives us some room to play with since the MLS cap is about 3.1 million this year.
  • Because it was of interest, Hendry Thomas is making $180K in Dallas this year.  It appears that he wanted to leave Colorado to be with Pareja and it wasn't really about the money.
Along those lines we have another Pareja acquisition moving to join up with an ex-coach.  Wilmer Cabrera's Chivas USA has traded for the rights to Martin Rivero, giving us a 4th round pick next year in return.  With Powers' Rookie of the Year campaign and Sanchez's addition the pressure to sign him dropped so getting anything for his rights is a good move.  Maybe he'll turn into the DP we all hoped he'd be at Chivas, but it wasn't worth the Rapids investing the time in him when he was passed by Powers.

Monday, April 7, 2014

El Matador Spears The Whitecaps For Three Points

Last week I realized that readers of this blog probably don't need a full recap of the game.  By Monday you've probably watched it or seen enough of the highlights to make my recap redundant. Instead I'll just give my general observations of the game as a whole as well and revisiting my strategic consideration from my preview.  Let me know if you like the new model or want the recap back.

So my general observation of this game is that Vancouver was generally the better team but didn't dominate us.  They generally had the better chances and the stats back that up, with 7 shots on target to Colorado's 3 (and 2 of those were the goals).  Surprisingly to me Colorado actually had more possession but it felt like the Whitecaps did more with the ball when they had it, at least when it was 11 on 11.

My strategic consideration was how well the remixed back 4 did.  It wasn't as mixed as I expected, with Burch able to start, but Vancouver still got far too many good looks at the goal with only some great defensing form Irwin saving the game.

Other Observations:
  • Great to see Irwin back in net, and he showed why he's the starter with a couple of big saves, including one huge one when Moor was starting down a 3 on 1 right after we gave up the goal.  Without Clint we don't win.
  • There wasn't a whole lot of off the ball movement from either team in the first half.  That led to a bit of a disjointed mess.
  • The Vancouver goal was a bit of poor play from the Rapids but a lot of good play from Vancouver.  Its not often that both Drew Moor and Shane O'Neill will be beat on headers on the same play, but Kenny Miller certainly took advantage of some poor positioning from O'Neill and Mattocks is just faster than Moor (and most other defenders in the league).
  • Jose Mari's first goal should clearly win Goal of the Week and is a candidate for Goal of the Year.  ESPNFC picked it as the goal of the weekend from all the leagues they cover.  His 2nd goal was picked 10th on the weekend.
  • We now have goals that didn't start as PKs!
  • His bullfighting goal celebration has already gotten him the nickname El Matador from the fans, though El Torero is probably a more accurate name.
  • Of course the elephant (or perhaps bull) in the room is the red card to Laba.  I agree with some Vancouver fans who are complaining that a foul wasn't called on LaBrocca, many refs would have called it.  It wasn't so obvious that a play on was wrong though.  That doesn't excuse Laba's decision to grab a live ball while already on a yellow though.  If he had grabbed it as he went down as we see quite often I think he would have gotten away with it.  instead he waited  a beat until he knew he wasn't getting a call and LaBrocca was already approaching the ball to go on the counter.  That makes it a yellow as he broke up a Rapids attack.  If the ref had it to do over with 20/20 hindsight I bet he calls LaBrocca for the foul to avoid that situation, but once Laba put him in that spot he had to pull the yellow.
  • Oh, and there was a yellow on Laba in the 54th minute and then a second yellow for the hand ball in the 77th minute.  It was not two yellows for the same incident in the 77th minute as Fleming and Balboa kept repeating all the way through the post game.  Somebody off camera/mic really should have gotten them that info at some point in the final 20+ minutes of coverage.
  • Of course their inability to tell that Jose Mari's second goal actually went in is another indicator that KSE really needs to give the Rapids enough money to send Richard and Marcelo to away games.  When they don't have any better view than we do at home it makes them hard to really enhance the broadcast. 
  • Piermayr was quiet and solid in his first start for the Rapids, which is the kind of result you want from a new defender.
  • Torres had a great overhead kick that put Brown in for a shot that he missed by that much (tm Maxwell Smart).  Had Brown finished it Torres' assit might have made it a Goal of the Year candidate.
  • It feels like both Torres and Brown are this close to putting it all-together and going on a tear, hopefully they get over that hump soon.
  • Charles Eloundou!  I liked his energy and effort off the bench.  I'd start him before I started Hill again, who was largely invisible.
  • 4 points in our first 2 road games is almost a quarter of the points we got in 17 road games last year.  Nothing to complain about there.
Man of the Match: Jose Mari.  This really should be split between Irwin and Jose Mari, but you can't not give it to somebody who scores two goals of the quality he did.  That's a quick way to becoming a fan favorite.  Ole!

Friday, April 4, 2014

First Of A Canadian Doubleheader

Whitecaps-Rapids, wettest game in MLS

Colorado makes the first of back-to-back trips to Canada tomorrow, facing Vancouver almost a stone's throw from my childhood home in Oak Harbor, WA (Seattle is 18 miles closer to drive than Vancouver B.C.).  Game time tomorrow is 4:30pm, so you can have a nice dinner during the second half or you can join C38 at the British Bulldog.  The game is on Altitude, no word if Balboa will be rejoining Fleming this week.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Mark Burch (L calf contusion); D Chris Klute (R hamstring strain); D Dillon serna (L ankle sprain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: D Marvell Wynne (red card against KC)

Well, at least we have Irwin back at 100%.  Not a pretty report for our back line.  Vancouver will be missing Nigel Reo-Coker and our old friend Mehdi Ballouchy.  Here's my guess at our lineup but who really knows what will happen....:

I'm assuming that with the turf in Vancouver neither Buddle or Sanchez will start.  Sanchez had a pretty bad reaction when he tried Portland's turf last season and Buddle avoided it last season due to his knee issues.  Torres and Chavez seem like the obvious replacements, but an Eloundou or Hill could be in consideration.  On the back line I assumed the reason we signed Piermayr was so he would start this week, while VDC seems the most likely to fill in for Wynne.  Or they could move O'Neill inside and use Watts and Piermayr on the outside.

Strategic Consideration: Defensive back 4, obviously.  No matter who we put out there it could be ugly.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  I don't see a whole lot of opportunity in this game.  Even a draw should be considered a good result.  But maybe this is where Pablo shines.  I remember a game close to 10 years ago where he and a an iffy back-line defended a 1-0 lead against LA while down 2 men to get the win.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Odds And Ends

A couple of "real" news items and a couple of fun items today.

The big one, the Rapids signed Austrian defender Thomas Piermayr today.  He'll be eligible to play right away.  Piermayr is a 24-year old outside back (both right and left) and can apparently play in the midfield as well.  This is probably an indicator that Burch's injury will make him unavailable in Vancouver on Saturday and Pablo may be considering the Austrian to fill in since Klute is also still injured.

The Rapids have added the Black Hills Soccer Club in Rapid City, South Dakota to their list of allied youth clubs.  They club will now be known as the Black Hills Rapids.  This gives the Colorado Rapids partner clubs in Charlotte, Rapid City, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque to go with the main youth club here in Denver.  That's a nice area to cover for the team and will hopefully allow them to find some more homegrown players.

Drew Moor will not be suspended for his elbow, but the Disciplinary Committee did fine him today.

Have we found the long-lost Rapidman?  The Ottowa fury's new mascot looks like Rapidman by a different name...

And last, but certainly not least, a standing ovation to the Rapids Media Relations Department for their entertaining April Fools prank yesterday.  I don't think anyone actually fell for it, but the idea and the work put in make it the best of the sports-based attempts yesterday, certainly better than Orlando City's supposed re-imaging to the Manatees.  Links here, here, here, and here.  Hard to pick a favorite picture but I think I've narrowed it down to these two.  Of course there's now a push from some fans (and the Vancouver Whitecaps) to actually wear these for real.  That would be scary enough that they'd have to save it for a Halloween prank!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rapids Lose Composure And Three Points

Finally feeling better so I'm getting back to the blog.  I'm going to dispense with my normal recap, as I assume everyone is up to speed by this point.  The bottom line is that the Rapids fought back from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead with 12 minutes to play, then lost 3-2.  Not the way you want to end a game.

Other Observations:
  • Seriously, up 1 with 12 minutes to play and we give up two goals, take 2 yellows, and 1 second yellow/red.  Complete lack of focus and composure to finish off KC and we paid for it.
  • After Wynne was ejected and we brought Hairston in, we had 5 draftees from the last two drafts (Berner, Watts, Hairston, Powers, Brown) and 1 homegrown player (O'Neill) on the field, 6 of the 10 players.  That a great sign for the future.
  • You'd think that might have led to our lack of composure, but it was one of the senior players (Wynne) who broke down the most and the other two players who got yellow cards were LaBrocca and Sturgis.  All in all, the kids did OK.
  • Wynne had a horrible, horrible game.  The first KC goal sequence starts by Wynne trying to volley a chest pass only for it to have easily intercepted by Zusi.  Zusi passes it and breaks towards goal from the midfield strips.  Wynne, probably the fastest player in the league, lets him go while ball-watching and then doesn't close him down when he gets into the box, leaving Zusi wide open for the tap-in.
  • On the second goal, right off the kickoff from the Rapids 2nd goal, Wynne and O'Neill get split by the KC attacker.  Wynne then drifts into the middle of no-mans land, once again ball watching, and is not in any position to help defend KC's attack until its too late.
  • Finally, 5 minutes later, he comes in way late on a tackle a good 70+ yards from goal and on the sideline, picking up a second yellow for a foul that was completely unnecessary and leaving the team a man down to defend the draw.  If he wasn't suspended next week I'd suggest benching him.
  • Berner looked tentative and unsure in this game.  time for Irwin to get back between the pipes.
  • Generally Pablo seemed to go with a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" strategy for the lineup in this one.  I understand it, but I think we saw in this match that the lineup needs some tweaks.
  • 2 more PKs makes 5 for the season in the first 3 games.  I'm not real worried about our lack of goals without PK help, with the exception of the one in NY they all came when the Rapids were making dangerous attacks.  The goals will come if we keep that up.
  • That said, the first PK was a tough call against KC.  Probably a good no call there but I can see what the ref saw with hands hitting the ball while falling.
  • KC got their own benefit of the doubt though early in the game.  Kronberg collapsing on Sanchez to keep him from stealing the ball just outside the box could have easily been a red card.
  • Drew did get beat on KC's third goal and admitted so after the match, expecting Dwyer to go to his right foot.  Still that was a hell of a blast from the KC striker.
  • LaBrocca, you get the ball inside the 6 with the goalkeeper beat, don't soft foot it!  Pick a spot and hammer it home!
  • Buddle had a nice shot in the first half and generally was ok, but still not getting enough out of him for his salary.
  • No Wynne, possibly no Burch, and possibly no Moor (rumor circulating he might be suspended for his elbow in the 1st half) will make a very ugly defensive line in Vancouver on Saturday.
Man of the Match: Vicente Sanchez.  Honestly he could have been MOTM for all 3 games.  2 more goals, both from PKs, making him 4 for 4 already this season.  Generally he was the best guy out there for the home team.  In fact, any Rapid showing the ball skills he did on Saturday should have a big yellow afro.