Saturday, May 31, 2014


These might be good in the heat tomorrow

The Rapids start a 3 games in 7 days swing tomorrow that will take them into the World Cup break (USOC game aside).  Omar Cummings makes his first return to the Dick after the trade that sent him to Houston, he will probably get a rousing ovation when he makes an appearance.  Game time tomorrow is 6pm, so the tailgate is at 3.  The game is on Altitude and Univision Deportes for thos who can't make it.

Injury Report:
OUT: F Vicente Sanchez (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: D Gale Agbossoumonde (lower abdominal pain); D Marc Burch (R hamstring strain); M Nathan Sturgis (R foot injury)

International Absences:
F Gabriel Torres (Panama)

No official injury report update since last week so Buddle isn't listed, but we know he isn't available.  Houston has 3 top players away on international duty, 1 suspended, and at least 3 injured.  Last week they could even dress a full healthy 18.  My guess at our XI:

With the lack of strikers and the 3 games in 7 days its hard to know what Pablo is going to do, but my guess is that he drops back into the 4-5-1 with Brown up front.  I assume Wynne will start one of the next two games, Piermayr will start the other, so its just a guess which one will get the start tomorrow.  The midfield is a toss up.  I assume Jose Mari, Serna, and Powers will be on the field, but other than that...

Strategic Consideration: Take advantage of the weakened opponent.  Last week Houston played 2 games and lost both by a combined score of 5-0.  They are beat up and missing key players.  The Rapids don't need to fear them, they need to beat them up.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Brown.  The lack of strikers will leave us with a minimal attack, but Houston won't be able to mount anything in opposition.  The Rapids will get the win, but it won't be a particularly exciting game.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

USOC Match June 17th Against Orlando City

After last night's 4-1 win by Orlando City over Tampa, the Rapids first home USOC match in 7 years will be June 17th at 7pm.  Tickets are on sale through the Rapids, C38 will be selling tickets for 108 and a relocated-to-the-south-stands Terraces shortly (The Rapids are reportedly only opening the south half of the stadium for this one).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Now Go Away Or I Shall Taunt You A Second Time

A game like that was a long time coming.  The Rapids did what they needed to do, outplayed a clearly inferior team and put up a dominant win.  Goals from Powers, Hill, and O'Neill continued the season's theme of anyone scoring at any time.  In 12 games the Rapids have 9 different goal scorers with all three scorers in this one getting their first goals of the season (or in O'Neill's case, the first goal of his career).  The game wasn't perfect though, as the Rapids did give up the clean sheet late for the 4-1 win, and only a poor offside call kept it from being 4-2.  That said, Montreal looked horrible.  Thy had no answer for our attack and they even struggled to do the simple things.  Meanwhile Colorado put together their most complete game of the year.

My strategic consideration for this game scoring more than one.  Four times got the job done.  ;)
  • Starting the game with a goal in the first 5 minutes is new this season.  The PK call was sot but it wasn't completely unwarranted.  Most of the time though at this level the ref isn't going to call that so we got a bit lucky.
  • I liked Powers' PK, right down the middle.  Of course if the keeper sees it coming and saves it you look like an idiot. ;)
  • Former Rapid Sanna Nyassi had a horror return to Colorado.  Gave up the PK, let Brown get by him on a breakaway that should have been scored, then got injured and subbed out early in the first half.
  • Deshorn, Deshorn, Deshorn.  Two gorgeous breakaways, 0 goals.  If it weren't for bad luck he'd have no luck at all.  Just reinforces my belief that its more mental than physical.
  • Buddle is looking better but we'll see how much this groin injury sets him back.
  • Because of Buddle's injury Brown's time with the Jamaican National Team may be cut short.  He left to join them for their mid-week game this week, but if Buddle can't go on Sunday don't be surprised to see Brown recalled to play on Sunday.
  • Every game I see Jose Mari play I remember less and less about Hendry Thomas.  Great find by the Rapids.
  • However Romero made him, Hill, and Klute look stupid on Montreal's goal.  Lax defending cost Irwin and the team a shutout.
  • Though Montreal actually scored to make it 3-1, only for a horrible offside call to take it away from them.  A ref at this level can't miss that badly.
  • Speaking of missing badly, Altitude, Zaire hasn't existed since I graduated from college last millennium.  Mwanga's birth country is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  And Its Shane O'Neill, not Shane O'Neal.
  • The defense got lax after the large lead.  It seems like players were more focused on getting a goal than defending as a team.
  • With the win the Rapids are tied for the 4th most points in the league and 3rd in the West, though on points per game they're tied for 5th overall, 4th in the West (Vancouver has 1 less point in 1 less game played).
Man of the Match: Dillon Powers.  Not only did he have the 2 goals, but he also controlled the midfield, running the attack all night.  Hopefully he's finding that form after his injury that took him to the Rookie of the Year award last season.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rapids Try For Hat-Trick Against Canucks

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

The Montreal Impact make only their second-ever trip to Colorado this week.  The last time they were here we got a wind-assisted goal late for the winner and with the weather we've had this week we could see something similar tomorrow.  This will be a "send-off" game for both Torres and Brown as they will join their National Teams for their friendlies in the next couple of weeks, rejoining the Rapids for the June 7th game in Dallas.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4pm.  'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery); F Vicente Sanchez (L knee injury); D Grant Van De Casteele (concussion)

No official injury report update since last week, but we can be pretty sure that even if healthy Mullan and VDC won't factor into the game.  Sanchez is at best Questionable but will probably not be in the 18.  Torres has been ruled out as well, while Burch, Sturgis, and Agbossoumonde have all been reported as doubtful.  Not good.  Meanwhile Montreal had 4 players listed as questionable on the last injury report.  My guess at the XI:

Again, these seem like the obvious choices but Pablo has yet to do anything obvious this year.  with Burch out the only other possible defender is Wynne, and with Sturgis injured its only Eloundou that might have a shot at starting.  I'd be shocked if anyone but Brown and Buddle started up front.

Strategic Consideration: Score!  More than once!  At this point we just need some striker to get on track.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Brown and Serna.  Montreal is a bad team that's old and playing at altitude.  If we can't win this game we might as well punt on the season.  Somebody will screw up and give up a goal but Montreal will fade late and the Rapids will get the winner.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Keep Clam!

Over the last 5 hours a good  portion of the U.S. fanbase seems to have lost their head over the exclusion of Landon Donovan from the 23-man World Cup roster.  Personally I'm shocked but not dismayed by it.  I assumed inertia would keep Donovan on the roster, but I'm not sure he deserved it at this point.

Yes, Donovan is the best field player the U.S. has ever produced and saved our butts against Algeria.  But that was 28-year old Landon Donovan 4 years ago.  This is 32-year old LD who has noticeably added weight, shows a lack of engagement with the Galaxy this year, and took a sabbatical last year leaving his Nats teammates to handle the SnowClasico and the Azteca without him.  He has publicly questioned his own commitment to the game in recent months.  Does that sound like a guy who's an automatic inclusion on a World Cup squad?

Yes, LD has shown if he wants it he can flip a switch and play at a world-class level, but that also shows he doesn't want it all the time.  Putting him on the roster would mean you're counting on him to flip that switch, and he hasn't made that flip in a long time.  That doesn't mean taking him would be a bad choice or a wrong one, but leaving him off isn't nearly as risky as a number of fans and media pundits have claimed it is in the last 300 minutes.

In the long run if our World Cup chances live and die with Landon Donovan then Klinsmann and the USSF have bigger issues that they've missed in the last 3 years than LD's roster spot.  In reality the success of this team was going to be based on Bradley, Howard, and Dempsey before today's announcement and it still is.  That hasn't changed and everybody should take a deep breath.

Oh, and I'm going to get my tin foil hat theory on record in case it happens.  ;)  Jurgen left LD off intentionally to piss him off and get him playing with fire.  Then sometime in the next 3 weeks an attacking player (Julian Green?) is going to get "injured" necessitating a replacement from the 7 cut players.  Klinsmann then brings Donovan back to the roster and gets a fired up striker who storms out of the gate looking for a Ghanaian and Portuguese keeper he can make look stupid to prove how he deserved to be on the roster from the beginning.  :D

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Going On With Torres?

A lot of news and rumors have been swirling around Torres over the last few days.  Let's review the timeline and see what, if anything, we really "know":

On Friday night Bianchi tweets the following:
Torres away with Panamanian team on special fitness program, I'm told. Turn off the alarm, put away the tinfoil hats. Myself included.
On Saturday the Rapids released a press release with the following info:
  • Torres to be shut down until June 7th for strengthening and conditioning
  • He has significant muscle damage already
On Sunday a fan who has proven to be well-connected posted this on Facebook:
 Torres is going to Panama and when he gets back, he's going on a six week fitness program required by Pablo. It's not for strength to prevent injury or the other stuff you read ... It's to get his fat ass in shape and he's benched until he completes it and isn't going to play until he's in shape.
On Monday the Rapids announced that Torres will be leaving on May 28th to join the Panamanian National Team for their matches on May 31st and June 3rd, before returning to the team in time for the June 7th game.

Yesterday the Denver Post reported:
Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni said Tuesday recent tests showed damage in Torres' quadriceps, hamstrings and lower back. However, the man he described as "Panama's biggest star" has made drastic improvement over the past 10 days.
"I've known for a while that Panama wanted me for these games, but I had to get the last word from the club, and when the club said it was OK, then I started to get everything rolling," Torres said through an interpreter Tuesday. "The team wanted me to play because these games are important and also because of the new coach of the Panama national team."
Mastroeni said being called up for international play is a great honor, and he supports it.
"It's a balance, right? It's not about us, it's about Gaby. So, there's a balance to be had. So if Gaby feels like (joining Panama) is something he wants to do for his career, then we as an organization support that."
So what does all this mean?  There's some complimentary and some conflicting information.  Let's go step by step:
  • The trip to Panama is for the National Team games, not for any of the strengthening work.
  • Torres is clearly going through some sort of fitness/strengthening/conditioning training that's making him unavailable for at least 4 games (@FSL, Montreal, Houston, Chicago).
  • Whatever possible muscle damage that's leading the team to shut him down, its not enough to prevent him from playing with Panama.
The real question mark is why he's undergoing this training.  Is it due to fears of muscle damage, or is he just out of shape?  From my observations of Torres it does appear he's carrying more weight this season than last year and he does seem to have some fitness issues as he appears to drag near the end of his time in games.

My guess?  The Rapids have seen some muscle concerns in the scans and they're using that for a cover to deal with the fact that Torres is out of shape.  I can't believe that if Torres was already injured or was at real threat for injury (to the level that he's not being allowed to play in games) the Rapids would agree to let him play for Panama.  Instead I think the Rapids are unhappy with his fitness level and have told him that they won't stop him playing for Panama, but he won't get game action in Colorado until he shows he's fit enough to play and the concerns over his possible muscle strains are alleviated.

This is conjecture based on the various reports I've seen, but it seems to fit all the facts as we know them while explaining the differences in stories.

Rapids Announce USOC Details

The Rapids have announced the USOC details.  First the date and time:
  • If Tampa Bay beats Orlando on May 28th, Matt Pickens and Anthony Wallace will return to the Dick with the rest of the Rowdies on Tuesday June 10th at 7pm.
  • If Orlando beats Tampa Bay on May 28th, the soon-to-be-MLS-side Orlando City will be at the Dicl on Tuesday June 17th at 7pm
Either way the ticketing will be the same.  Tickets on the West sideline will be $20/$25 for kids, on the East sideline and behind the South goal, $15/$10 for kids.  The Terraces will be handled by C38 as normal.  Season ticket holders and partial plan holders, along with groups bigger than 10, will get a 50% discount on those prices.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Rapids or online here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

FaKe Fakes Their Way To A Win

Poor play and poor officiating led to a poor result on Saturday.  The Rapids waited for 50+ minutes and 2 goals to start playing and the hole was too deep by that point.  The Rapids barely played well enough to get a draw but can't be that upset by the loss.  PK luck tends to even out over the course of the season, and the questionable calls we got in NY and against Kansas City (the first PK call at least) are balanced out by the poor PK call in this one.  Given the option though, I'd gladly give back the point from the NY game to get a point in this one.

My strategic consideration for this game was playing our best XI.  O'Neill was left on the bench due to, according to one report, needing a rest after being banged up.  While that is understandable the RMC is not the time to be resting players, and if he was getting a rest, why did he start and captain the reserves in the game against FSL the next morning?  I suspect that O'Neill's night off was just a part of Pablo's rotation policy and not due to him needing a rest.  So no, we did not put out our best XI and given our defensive confusion in the first half, that might have cost us.
  • The PK was completely bogus.  Irwin made no contact at all and Moor was making contact for multiple steps before Sandoval went to the ground. Irwin's dive would have caused the AR to be shielded so I can only assume that Geiger was also shielded and thought he saw something he didn't.  Geiger is the best the U.S. has (he'll be going to Brazil this summer) so to see him make a mistake like that was pretty surprising.
  • He did catch Morales' even worse dive later in the half and gave him the appropriate yellow card.  It doesn't make up for the PK call, but I got a good laugh out of it.
  • On the one true FSL goal the defense was completely pulled out of shape and Plata was the open man on the far side.  Complete confusion on who was taking who as the ball changed fields cost us.  That's the type of thing you would expect a stable defensive line to be better at.
  • Less than 10 minutes later Plata almost scored an identical goal, but the play took just a bit longer to develop allowing Irwin to get into position to make the save.
  • The number of basic passes we failed to complete was maddening.  Simple touches that we sent flying out of bounds or directly to FSL.  At one point Brown even dribbled the ball too hard right to FSL.  This is high-school stuff we're screwing up.
  • That said, once the PK was scored we started looking by a real team.  We had multiple good looks at goal that were off target, off the post, or well-saved.  Moor had 3 great headers and he managed to get the last on target for a goal.
  • There were multiple open net opportunities that would have been scored had somebody been crashing the goal was the ball came across.  I don't know where our other attackers were, but the chances went wanting.
  • Sturgis and LaBrocca shouldn't start together.  It just slows down our midfield to the point of being ineffective.
  • Danny Mwanga was our offensive lifeline.  Could you feel the excitement when he came in?
  • Still liking the look of Marlon Hairston.  Maybe he should be the 4th midfielder with Sanchez out, though that leaves us young in midfield (Serna, Powers, and Hairston along with Jose Mari).
  • Given the news on Torres (more on that tomorrow) we need to get used to Brown and Buddle up front for a while, so they're going to have to figure out how to make it work.
  • In the last 5 games we have 4 points and 4 goals.  Montreal this weekend is just about a must win to stop the tailspin this season is diving into.

Man of the Match: Drew Moor.  The PK was bogus and his goal may have kept alive our Rocky Mountain Cup chances this year.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Torres To Be Shut Down For Conditioning

The Rapids are now announcing that Gabriel Torres is being shut down for strength and conditioning work, with the goal of working him back into the first team fro the June 7th match in Dallas and the U.S. Open Cup match the week after before the World Cup break.  The report is that he has significant muscle damage in his legs due to his play over the last few month, and reportedly that's why he's had the slow start.  Nothing in the announcement about a trip to Panama.

Call me skeptical, but I'm having a hard time believing that it was just his play over the first few months that caused the problem.  Certainly its not usual for a player to suffer like this, and Torres has appeared to be out of shape since the season started.  It makes me wonder if his off-season training didn't go as planned or if something else happened.  Either way, lets hop this kick starts him for the season post-WC break.  Right now our big time forwards aren't earning their money:

Buddle + Torres + Mwanga = $850K of salary cap hit, scored a total of 1 goal in 2014
Brown + Sanchez (who's as much a midfielder as a forward) = $410K of salary cap hit, scored 7 goals in 2014

Torres Not Available Tonight

Last night's Chris Bianchi tweeted the following:
Torres away with Panamanian team on special fitness program, I'm told. Turn off the alarm, put away the tinfoil hats. Myself included.
(The tinfoil hats are a reference to an earlier tweet about Torres not travelling and not practicing on Wednesday)

This explanation seems to have calmed down Bianchi but it certainly raised my eyebrows!  I have never heard of a player leaving his club team during the season to join his national team on a "special fitness program", particularly when that national team isn't in camp in preparation for a tournament or friendly (Panama did not qualify for the World Cup).

More than one fan has commented that Torres' fitness appears to be lacking this year, he seems to have put on weight and certainly his play hasn't lived up to his billing.  Maybe this is the key to getting him back to where he was.  Of course other fans have suggested that the "special fitness program" is a nicer way to explain some sort of rehab that the Rapids don't want to discuss or that Torres is trying to find a way out of Colorado.

On the latter note, Bianchi followed up his tweet with this:
For record, been reiterated to me recently that Torres big part of club moving forward. He ain't going anywhere as we stand.
So it doesn't sound like the Rapids want him to go anywhere.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Taking Our Cup To Utah

This is staying with our fans in Sandy for the first time in a while

Rocky Mountain Cup, does anything more really need to be said?  This is the first of two games in Utah this year, split by one game in Colorado.    As always a large group of Rapids fans are heading for Sandy for tomorrow night's game, but the rest of us can watch it on Altitude at 7:30.  C38 is having a large watch party for those fans that didn't make the trip at the Three Lions downtown.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery); F Vicente Sanchez (L knee injury); D Grant Van De Casteele (concussion)

FSL has 6 players on the injury report and have 3 big players (Rimando, Beckerman, and Rapid-killer Saborio) away from the team on World Cup duty, so this is a great chance to hit them when they're undermanned.  Obviously the Rapids are still missing Sanchez, but the other two haven't featured this year so we're almost at full strength.  My guess at our XI:

It seems like 7-8 of these players are obvious, with the only real questions being LaBrocca, our strikers, and maybe Piermayr.  I figured speed over bulk for the strikers but maybe Buddle will get a chance to score #100.

Strategic Consideration: Play the best XI.  No more screwing around with the lineup Pablo, not in this match.  Pick the best XI and go out there to win the game.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Torres.  The road team hasn't won a Rocky Mountain Cup match since each side won a road game in 2007 and I don't see that changing tomorrow.  However the Rapids can get a draw and take away home field advantage for the RMC from FSL this year.  Torres finally gets on the board by getting us that important point.

Rapids To Host U.S. Open Cup Match

No, that's not a typo.  For the first time in 7 years the Colorado Rapids will host a U.S. Open Cup match.  The draw for the 4th Round was made today and the Rapids will host the winner of the 3rd round matchup between Orlando City and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  Tampa Bay features both Matt Pickens and Anthony Wallace, so there would be some interesting storylines if the Rowdies beat Orlando.  The game will be held during the week of June 10th-18th, details and ticket options are still to be announced.

The last time the Rapids hosted a USOC match was a 3-1 win over the now defunct California Victory in the 3rd round on July 10th, 2007.  Colorado traveled to Seattle in the next round and got beat-down 5-0.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lineup Churn

There's been a good deal of grumbling this week about the amount of changes we've seen in the starting XI under Pablo.  Every game is a different starting XI.  Mastroeni says its his philosophy that every player should be ready to play and that players should be rotated in and out of the lineup for rest.  The fans think that leads to a lack of chemistry and the defensive mess we saw on Sunday.  I actually general agree with Pablo's general philosophy but i can be taken too far.  Are we at that point?  Time to take a look at the numbers!

I broke down the starting XI of every game this season, looking at the changes.  I then removed any change that was due to a player being unavailable due to injury, suspension, or wife's pregnancy (Sanchez).  Here are the results:
* = Piermayr got his first start in this game, as he was signed earlier in the week.  It was an "unforced change" but due to a new player being available that wasn't available before

So if you take out Piermayr's first start there were never more than 3 unforced changes made before the last week.  That seems reasonable and in keeping with Pablo's philosophy of getting some players rest each game.  Even with Piermayr's first start the big changes (4 and 5) came after the Rapids two losses in which some players stood out in not good ways.  Its not unusual for a coach to make more changes after bad losses lie we saw against KC and in Seattle.

Then last week happened.  In San Jose and against Chivas Pablo made as many changes as any 3 other games combined.  4 changes against San Jose from a team that beat LA, then 8 chances from a team that beat San Jose.  No real surprise that the team struggled to stay on the same page in those two games.

I think what the last week was was a learning experience for a new coach.  Up until this point he'd been handling working in his rotation strategy well, but he seemed to overreact to the idea of 3 games in a week.  Combined with the "lesser" opponents Pablo seems to think he had the freedom to rest more players.  He found out he didn't.

So I find myself in the same general spot.  I support Pablo's ideas, but I think he needs to learn the lesson from this past week, lineup rotation can be taken so far.  We need a core group that can expect to start every game, with 1-2 of those players being rotated in and out.  What we don't need is making 8 chances in 4 days.

Rapids (Finally) Sign Neeskens

Talks about John Neeskens, son of famed Dutch player Johan Neeskens, started just as preseason was ending but the Rapids made it official today, signing the 20-year old defender to a contract.  Despite his Dutch heritage he was born in Tulsa and will not take an international spot.  Neeskens can play either outside back spot as well as playing outside or holding mid.

With the signing the Rapids are up to 28 of a possible 30 roster spots, with 7 of 8 international slots filled.  No other signings are rumored at this time, but with the recent addition of 2 defenders we may see a move being made.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


That's the only way to describe Sunday's result.  Due to my family being in town I didn't get to see the game or watch any highlights until this morning.  It looks like seeing the LEGO Movie my 2-year old nephew and the rest of the family was the right choice! With my limited window (hey, the Giro d'Italia AND the Amgen Tour of California are going on right now) I just watched the 18 minute condensed match through MLS Live.  I think I saved myself a lot of heartburn that way.  Some notes:

  • That starting XI was junk.  Sorry Pablo, I backed your rotation policy early in the season but this week took it too far.  More on this tomorrow or Thursday.
  • Chivas didn't earn any of their goals.  Well they obviously "earned" them because they scored them, but they were all scored on defensive blunders you shouldn't see at the USL level, much less MLS.
  • On the first goal who's marking Chivas' Designated Player striker Torres?  I hear he's kind of good.  I don't know if he was Wynne's or Piermayr's but somebody completely blew it giving Torres the easiest header he's ever seen.
  • Second goal, seriously Wynne?  What the hell were you trying to do?  You're the last line of defense, the last thing you can do is step forward and let the ball bounce past you.  There's a reason you've been on the bench apparently.
  • Third goal, seriously Burch?  What did you think was going to happen off a header like that?  There's a reason you've been on the bench apparently.
  • Its not often a goalkeeper gives up 3 goals and can be held blameless for the result of the match but Irwin had no chance on any of the 3 goals thanks to his defense.
  • I hope some of the murmurs from fans about Moor maybe not being worth it are put to bed after this match.  Its been a long time since the Rapids defense has looked that bad.
  • Brown's goal reinforces what I think about his shooting.  Instinctively he puts great shots on net, when he has time to think about it it gets in his head and they go off target or right at the keeper.
  • Good to see Pablo step up in the post-game comments and take the blame for this one.  He deserves the blame as much (if not more) than anyone else and his comments make me believe he really learned something from this debacle.
  • He's got to figure it out quickly.  A performance like this in the Rocky Mountain Cup next week and the fans may mutiny!
Man of the Match: The fans who braved a snowstorm and freezing temperatures to watch that mess.  Hats off to you who made it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, soccer moms or otherwise

The Rapids host a Mother's Day afternoon game on Sunday against former assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera, now head coach of Chivas USA.  I will not be in attendance at this one as I'll be celebrating Mother's Day with my family who's in town this weekend.  Good choice as my sister wouldn't appreciate me dragging my (almost) 2-year old nephew out in what is looking like some nasty weather at game time.  Rain turning to snow and a high in the low 40s.  For those of you going the game will be at 1pm, so a Mother's Day brunch tailgate will start at 10am.  For those of us staying home the game will be on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: F Vicente Sanchez (L knee injury)

Injury reports weren't updated today so I'm going by the reports from the team's last games.  Chivas has 7 players out or questionable, but of course they now have Martin Chavez to throw at us.  The Rapids rested some top players on Wednesday so hopefully we'll be ready to go on Sunday.  My guess at our XI:

I have a feeling that after Piermayr's struggle against San Jose we'll see the Klute-Burch outside back combo again.  Otherwise that seems like the logical lineup.

Strategic Consideration: Can we score?  More than once?  Some offensive output would be nice.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Torres and Serna.  Chivas is not a good team and we're at home.  We should win this one and we will.  Torres will finally get his first.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One More Time

Trade today, game this weekend, and family coming to town.  Short recap tonight.

Second verse, same as the first.  Well not exactly, the first time around there was a combined 1 shot on goal this time there were 11, but the result was the same, a 0-0 draw.  Once again the Rapids couldn't generate good shots on target, even when they were put into good positions.  San Jose did generate good shots, but the Rapids had a better keeper.

My strategic consideration was our midfield creativity.  It was absent for the most part though Eloundou did show a spark.

Other Observations:
  • Interesting lineup for this one.  I did not see Hill or Watts, much less both of them, getting the start.  Neither of them were shining stars but Watts was at least solid on defense.
  • The defense was picked apart at time though, Moor had another save off the line, O'Neill seemed out of sync, and Piermayr had possibly his worst game as a Rapid.
  • Klute is exempt from the above, he had some good moves.
  • Good to see Powers back, but more and more he's becoming a box-to-box guy and not an attacking mid.  That's not a bad thing but that really means we need Sanchez back ASAP.
  • Hill was mostly invisible.
  • I liked what I saw out of Eloundou.  For a young kid he has a never say die attitude I like.  He needs to get his head up and look for his teammates though instead of cutting inside and going for goal every. single. time.
  • Buddle and Torres, *sigh*  Actually they both looked better than they have, but that still wasn't good.  Late in the game Torres had the ball out on the edge of the box and tried something.  It was either a poor cross or a poor shot, but either way it was poor.  It was a good encapsulation of his night.
  • That said, they didn't get the midfield support they needed.  We're still struggling to cross the gap between the midfield and the attack. 
  • I felt like Pablo may have made a couple of coaching mistakes last night.  First he didn't have Brown or Jose Mari on the bench.  Brown could have really helped find that winning goal (more than Serna did, or Mwanga would have if he had gotten in the game).  Jose Mari would have brought some stability to the midfield which was necessary because of Pablo's second questionable choice.
  • None of the 4 starting midfielders had played 90 minutes in a first team game recently, and Hill and Eloundou haven't gone 90 this season.  By the end of the game the midfield was dragging.
  • If resting guys like Brown, Jose Mari, LaBrocca, Hairston, etc. pays off with a win on Sunday then it was probably worth it.  If it doesn't though...
  • In the end, you can't really be that upset about a point on the road.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Easy, he had at least 4 huge saves to preserve the shutout.

Chavez Traded, Eventually, For Gale Agbossoumonde

This afternoon the Rapids made a pair of trades.  First they sent midfielder Martin Chavez to Chivas USA for forward Luke Moore.  Then they immediately traded Luke Moore to Toronto FC for central defender Gale Agbossoumonde.  He's a 22-year old former U.S. U-20 player and has been capped once for the full Nats.

Agbossoumonde was expected to be the next big thing after the 20009 U-20 World Cup but he got into a lousy situation with his contract with Traffic Sports and had a hard time getting regular playing time.  Over the last couple of years the Rapids have done a good job with the RapKids, so hopefully this is another young player that Colorado can help.

Martin Chavez never seemed to click under Pablo.  He was acquired in a trade right after Pareja left.  We gave up Atiba Harris, so getting anything back was a win so I'm not at all upset about where we've ended up.  The real question is will Agbossoumonde measure up to what we paid for Harris originally, an international slot for the 2015 and 2016 seasons?

The acquisition of another central defender has gotten people wondering if another change is in the works.  Marvell Wynne seems to be an odd man out and has a large cap hit, did we get Agbossoumonde to provide cover so we could move Marvell?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Leader

Who's going to step up and be our offensive leader?

Didn't we just do this?  Once again the Rapids are facing the Earthquakes, though this time in San Jose.  This was originally going to be the season kickoff on March 9th but it was moved to assist San Jose in their CCL campaign.  So now we've got the 2nd of 3 games in 8 days tomorrow night at 8:30pm MDT.  The game is on Altitude with Fleming and Balboa.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: F Vicente Sanchez (L knee injury)

SJ has 4 players out and 1 questionable.  Sanchez is of course more than just Questionable and Hairston has been ruled out for this one too.  Powers may be available though.  Here's my guess at our XI:

This seems like the most likely mix of rested players and regular starters.  If Powers plays then I would expect Serna to slide into Eloundou's spot.  Otherwise I see Pablo going back to the back 5 that he used for the couple of games before LA.  Brown got the start on Saturday so I think he'll come off the bench with Torres and Buddle getting the start.  The midfield is harder to call with LaBrocca and Watts also possibilities.

Strategic Consideration: Where's the midfield creativity?  With no Sanchez and possibly no Powers, where's the engine that's going to generate offensive chances?

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Buddle.  San Jose is in a tailspin right now and is beat up to boot.  I think Colorado can sneak in and get a win, with Buddle netting #100.

Sanchez Out 4-6 Weeks

Bad news today as Sanchez's MRI yesterday revealed a knee sprain that will keep him out 4-6 weeks.  He sprained the knee in the 5th minute of Saturday night's game but played through it until halftime, scoring the winning goal in the process.

He'll miss the next 4, probably 5, games for sure.  If its the short 4 week recovery time he could be back for the game on 6/1 against Houston or more likely the 6/4 against Chicago.  If its the longer 6 week recovery time the team will almost certainly keep him shut down through the World Cup break and bring him back when the league restarts on 6/28 against Vancouver.  That would be 7 total games missed and probably the worst case scenario unless the injury turns out to be worse than they realize right now.

In his absence we'll need Powers back ASAP and players like Serna and Eloundou are going to have to step up and provide creativity and attacking chances from midfield.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Chavez Called Up For Honduran World Cup Team

Martin Chavez was named to Honduras' 23-man preliminary World Cup roster today.  Final rosters will be announced later, so there's a chance he may not go to Brazil, but Honduras is only bringing 23 into camp to start with so odds are pretty good he's heading to South America.  He'll leave to join the Honduran camp after this week's games.

Ciao To LA!

I've got to work tonight and we've got a game in two days, so short recap.  The Rapids controlled the first half and survived the second half en route to a 1-0 victory over the Galaxy.  Before the game I said to Kinda "Now that I predicted a 2-2 shootout we'll end up with a 1-0 game".  Guess I saw that coming.  It helped that Keane shanked the gift PK LA got.

Both sides got lucky not to concede more than they did.  At halftime I said that if the strikers had shown up we would have had a 4-3 game at half.  Seattle had two open net chances while Brown had three chances that he missed converting by inches (including one that went off the post but would have been a Goal of the Year candidate had it gone in).

My strategic consideration was Keane and Donovan not running wild.  They had a couple of chances (including the PL) but for the most part 

Other Observations:
  • Sanchez picked up a knock early, played through it, and hit that gorgeous goal.  Of course he's already been ruled out for Wednesday's game and probably Sunday's.
  • Hairston passed his concussion protocols but is also out for Wednesday.
  • He had a great game though until he took the knock to the head.  More and more young guys pushing for minutes in midfield.
  • Which brings us to LaBrocca.  Solid game from him, but more and more I see him and Sturgis as role players and bench help, not starters.  With Serna, Sanchez, Powers, Jose Mari, Hairston, Eloundou, and even Chavez as options, there aren't many minutes left for LaBrocca and Sturgis.
  • Jose Mari kept Landon quiet most of the game.  Another good performance from the Spaniard.
  • BTW, last week I was feeling better about the U.S.'s chances in Brazil seeing Dempsey carve us up.  Seeing Landon this week sent my hopes the other direction.  Looks like he's carrying a few extra pounds and he isn't nearly as aggressive as in the past.
  • Irwin had a good game, but in two straight week's he's come off his line against a start Nats player (Dempsey and Donovan) and not gotten to the ball.  Learn the lesson Clint.
  • Burch didn't have a bad game, but he seemed to be the weak point on the defense.  I expect Klute to move back to the left side for Piermayr to come in.
  • That said, Klute certainly proved he could handle himself at right back.
  • Buddle, ugh.  Feet of stone, every ball he touched seemed to spring away from him.
  • Friend took a total dive to draw the PK, no contact was made.  But Moor has to be smarter than to put the boot up there where the ref could call him for it.  Ball don't lie though. ;)
  • Even if Keane had been inside the post though, it looked like Irwin might ahve saved it.  He was fully stretched to the post when the ball went by.
  • Brown was about 6 combined inches from a hat trick, but ended up with 0 goals.  Twice in the first half he missed crosses by an inch or two that would have been easy goals if he could have stretched just a little further, then the stunner off the post.
  • The post givest, and the post takest away.  LA hit the post at least twice, and Colorado hit it twice.  One of ours went in.
  • The Ciao logo looks good on the burgundy kits, we'll see how it looks on the blues.
Man of the Match: Drew Moor.  Saved the goal in the first minute that could have completely changed the game, was in position to nod Sanchez's shot in if it had been a cross, and generally played a solid game.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Billions And Billions In Salary Comes To Colorado

If you aren't watching this, you should be

Or at least it seems that way at times.  The stars of the Galaxy are in Commerce City tomorrow to face the newly-sponsored Rapids.  PrimaDonnavan needs his first goal of the season to break a tie with ex-Rapids (and half the other MLS teams) striker Jeff Cunningham for teh all-time MLS goals record.  Edson Buddle needs one more goal to become the 8th player to hit 100 all-time in MLS.  We could see either or both of those tomorrow night (hopefully the latter and not the former).  Game time tomorrow is 7pm, so the tailgate is at 4pm.  Special menu item this week is gyros.  At 5pm at the C38 tailgate the Rapids will have an announcement, all but confirmed to be the unveiling the new sponsored jerseys.  For those who can't make it, the game will be on Altitude with Fleming and Balboa.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: M Dillon Powers (R quad strain)

LA has 4 players out or questionable.  Nice to see our injury report getting smaller, but you hate to see the defending RotY on it.  Other than possibly Powers I expect to see a full strength lineup.:

If Powers plays then I would expect Sanchez to slide back into LaBrocca's spot.  Other than that the only questions are if Serna actually starts (how do you not after last week?) and which duo is up front.

Strategic Consideration: Keane and Donovan.  Last week it was Martins and Dempsey, and Keane and Donovan might be better, though not as hot right now.  LA has defensive issues, so this could become a shootout if our defense doesn't improve.

Prediction: 2-2 draw.  Goals by Buddle and Torres.  Yeah, I see a shootout in this one but not a win.  Torres finally gets on the board and Buddle gets #100 but our defense gets beat up again.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ciao To Blank Uniforms!

This morning C38 sent out an email promoting a historic announcement at the tailgate this Saturday with special guests Pablo Mastroeni and Shane O'Neill.  A few hours later though the Rapids announced their first-ever jersey sponsorship with Ciao Telecom, a telecommunications company that has mobile, PBX, and soon streaming-television.  The deal is through the 2018 season at reportedly roughly $2 million per year.  The Rapids will be sporting the new jerseys starting on Saturday night against the Rapids.  There has been no picture of the new jerseys, but here's what the logo looks like on the jerseys of Italian Serie B club Reggina Calcio which they also sponsor:
The talk is that the Rapids were planning to make the announcement on Saturday but the Denver Post got wind of it and was going to run a story, so they had to move up the timeline.  The general belief is that they are still holding the unveiling of the new jersey for the tailgate (which would explain O'Neill being there to "model" it) as another show of support for C38.

This was a long time coming with a lot of false starts, including according to rumors at one point even the Ciao deal falling apart, but Hinchey and the FO finally got a deal done.  The $2 million/year will go a long way into putting the club into the black for the first time.  Hinchey has said that the money will also be used to improve the stadium (bring back the mini-donuts!) as well as the club.  We saw last year that a jersey sponsor wasn't necessary to sign a designated player, but more money to do something like that is always a good thing.

Great job by the Rapids getting a deal done to improve the club.  It appears to be a solid company (not a MLM like FSL or Dallas) and a classy logo that won't make the jersey look like an eyesore.  Ciao seems to be all in on the sponsorship, posting this on their home page today:
It links to this page where the Rapids and Ciao Telecom are both promoted.  All initial signs on this one are very positive.

I hate to end this entry on a bit of a sour note, but there was one other piece of news in the last couple of days.  Yesterday the Houston Dynamo announced that Tony Cascio had undergone surgery for a blown ACL and will miss the rest of the season.  Houston;s doctors preformed the repair and he will stay in Houston to rehab with the team.  Since he was on season-long loan from the Rapids to the Dynamo he will still count against the Dynamo's salary cap and not the Rapids cap this season.