Thursday, July 31, 2014

Well, That Sucked

As expected the Rapids looked listless on short rest.  What wasn't expected was how much of an egg they laid.  No passion, sloppy defense, invisible offense, and zero points.  Really a sad effort from Colorado but not a shock given their track record in short-rest games this season.

My strategic consideration was punting on this game.  Sadly the only regular starts who got the night completely off were those too injured to play (O'Neill, Jose Mari, and Brown).  Otherwise everyone who would likely be in our best XI played at least 20 minutes and we still lost.
  • In games on short rest the Rapids are averaging .4 pts per game.  In games on regular rest they're at 1.75 pts/game.  This is really the only thing Pablo has flubbed this season, the massive lineup changes and the inability to get his team up to play on short rest.
  • Watts, Hill, Hairston, LaBrocca.  That's a midfield that scares exactly no teams.  Our inability to play the ball at all through midfield killed us.
  • Watts was, again at fault on a goal.  He was ball watching on the throw-in and let Nguyen run free to set up the first goal.
  • The officiating wasn't great, but it wasn't the reason for the loss.  A yellow should have been shown to New England at some point in the first half for persistent infringement.
  • Piermayr's second yellow was weak but it was a foul.  Since the Revs scored immediately off the free-kick to make it 2-0 the missing player didn't come into play.  We weren't going to win down 2 if we had 10 or 11 men on the pitch.
  • Pablo's comments after the game communicated all the right things, but so did Moor's after the USOC loss.  There's only so many "wake up" games you can have before you realize the team isn't waking up.  Less talk more action at this point.
  • Even with the loss we're still having our 7th best season of all time, only .014 pts/game out of the top 5.  The loss dropped us from a tie for 3rd to 7th.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Kind of wins by default as nobody had a real good game.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Long Road Trip On Short Rest

Boston and back mid-week can't be fun

Tomorrow the Rapids make their longest road trip of the season heading to Boston (well, Foxborough) for a mid-week match against the Revolution.  On op of the long trip and short rest the Revs also play on turf so you can count out Sanchez and probably Buddle.  Game time tomorrow is 5:30pm MDT and the game will be on Altitude with 'Celo and Fleming.

Injury Report:
QUESTIONABLE: DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain); MF Jose Mari (L ankle sprain); FW Deshorn Brown (R groin strain)

Disciplinary Report:

As of the last injury report New England had two players out so they're in slightly better shape than we are.  The track record this season of our lineups on short rest has been somewhat unpredictable but I'm going to take my best guess:

I think we see a largely second team tomorrow night while the main starters stay here and rest for the weekend RMC match.  Its really a guess though.

Strategic Consideration: Punt.  This is probably heavily influenced by the rivalry, but strategically I think our best move is to write this game off.  Mid-week, short rest, long road trip, on turf, and playing an eastern Conference opponent.  Meanwhile on Saturday we have a Western Conference opponent at home and on top of everything else the Rocky Mountain Cup.  The 3 points on Saturday are more valuable and IMO more achievable than the points tomorrow night and we should focus on one game instead of trying to split focus and get 0 wins (like we've seen in our other short rest weeks this year).

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  I don't like our chances in this one regardless of the lineup.  The Revs haven't been scoring much lately but I think the short rest and long travel lead to a bad game for the Rapids.  new England breaks its long losing streak and sends us home without points.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rapids Honor Pablo, Retire Chivas USA

Colorado had an easy night against Chivas USA.  Complete dominance early led to a 2-0 halftime lead and Gaby Torres' first goal of the season in the second half finished the job for a 3-0 win.  The Rapids outshot Chivas 16-4, shots on target were 7-1 to Colorado's favor, and the home team had 6 corners to the visitors 3 (and none of those were until the second half).  A surprisingly toothless performance from the team soon to be renamed.

My strategic consideration was not outsmarting ourselves.  No signs of resting or overlooking Chivas until the game was put away.  Now we just need to keep that focus throughout this week.
  • The game started with a bang, literally.  The normal post-anthem Arsenal cannon discharge didn't happen until a minute or two into the game.  I'm pretty sure everyone's heart skipped a beat when that came out of nowhere.
  • It also started with a bang figuratively as Torres set up Serna with a shot that caromed off the crossbar within the first two minutes.
  • LaBrocca's goal doesn't seem possible.  It almost looks like somebody reached out and hooked it into the goal at the last minute.  Great strike.
  • A couple of weeks ago I commented that LaBrocca's shooting kills us every time.  Guess I have to take that back for a bit. ;)
  • If that hadn't gone in the Rapids would have had a great argument for a handball just before the shot.  Scoring so quickly made that moot though.
  • Textbook corner and header from Powers and Moor on the second goal.  You couldn't execute that any better.
  • Loved seeing a solid defensive effort from the Rapids in the second half.  They had a very organized shape from the forwards that set a strong line just inside the defensive half all the way back to the back 4.
  • Watts is still struggling but his play this week was an improvement from the last 2-3 games.  Glad to see he's not getting his head down.
  • Sanchez had a quiet night but he's fun to watch every time he gets the ball.
  • Torres showed why he's a DP for the first time all season.  If it wasn't Pablo's night Torres would have been MotM.  His goal was well placed and showed his ability to read the game.
  • Not only did he have the goal, but his pass to Sanchez set up the shot that was blocked by the hand on the first goal, and it was his shot that was deflected for the corner that led to the second goal.
  • After tonight's results the Rapids are tied with LA and Dallas for 3rd in points but LA has 3 games in hand on Dallas while Colorado only has 1.  That group is tied for 5th overall in the league.  Vancouver is 2 points back on the outside of the playoff chase.
Man of the Match: Pablo Mastroeni.  How can you not choose the greatest player in team history on the night he was added to the Gallery of Honor?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rapids Bobbleheads

Here's a look at all three of the bobbleheads the Rapids have created,

Also a kudos to the Rapids FO for going above and beyond.  They worked with C38 on the bobblehead giveaway to make sure the people involved in putting on the tailgate for the fans (and as such, unable to get into the stadium early to get a bobblehead) were taken care of.  Many teams wouldn't have bothered to do such a small thing from their POV that goes a long way for the fans.  Well done.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Honoring Pablo

7:15 tomorrow night Mastroeni goes into the Gallery of Honor

The Rapids are back home tomorrow night for the first time in three weeks.  They'll be facing former assistant coach and the rest of the Under-A-Chivas.  We'll also see former Rapids Martin Chavez and Nathan Sturgis, but not Martin Rivero who's season is over after a knee injury.  Game time tomorrow is 7:30pm but get to your seats by 7:15 for the Gallery of Honor ceremony for head coach and club legend Pablo Mastroeni.  The tailgate will start its normal 3 hours ahead of time at 4:30 but it will shut down at 6:30 instead of 7 to make sure everyone can get into the stadium before the ceremony.  For those that can't make it the game will be on Altitude and I'm sure they'll show the ceremony during the pre-game show.

Injury Report:
QUESTIONABLE: DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain); MF Jose Mari (L ankle sprain); FW Deshorn Brown (R groin strain)

The-soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Chivas USA has 3 players out, including Rivero, and one player questionable.  It seems very unlikely that any of our injured three will be available tomorrow.  Based on that, here's my guess at the XI:

That defense was the original plan last week before Burch got sick and I think we go back to it.  I can't believe Watts plays after his last 3 games now that LaBrocca is back.  Sanchez will start, Hill and Buddle are bigger question marks.  We could see Torres for example, or maybe even Eloundou if healthy.

Strategic Consideration: Don't outsmart ourselves.  We're entering another one of those 3 games in a week weeks and so far this season we've outsmarted ourselves in those weeks.  This week its home games against Western Conference opponents with a trip to the East in-between.  If we're going to punt on a game, punt on the trip to New England.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Sanchez and Powers.  Cubo Torres is hot right now and will find a goal for Chivas USA.  At home on a big night for the club though Sanchez won't let the team lose.  Powers and Sanchez take over the midfield and keep the pressure up until we get the lead and eventually the 3 points.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Called That One

Quoting my game preview from last Thursday:
2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  I think the missing talent is too much to overcome for the Rapids tomorrow.  Because of the weak defense the Rapids will get a goal but our inability to maintain possession in midfield will wear us down and Portland will get a winner late.
And that covers the game review because that's exactly what happened.  Probably the more accurate prediction I've ever made.

My strategic consideration was defense and it got torn apart on both goals.  Too many young players in new positions possibly.
  • The first thing I want to point out, and for me one of the most positive moments of the game, was the way Pablo reacted when Powers got a bit stunned by taking a ball off the face in the first half.  After Rojas saw to him and brought him to the sideline Pablo was clearly willing to make an early change and put him on the bench if that's what was best for Dillon, especially with his concussion history.  Its good to see a coach be that concerned about the well-being of a player and not about the result.  I'm sure Pablo's own concussion history influenced him.
  • Good garbage goal by the Rapids.  Brown got the credit but it was good to see the team fighting and clawing to get that ball over the line.
  • Sadly Pablo would have to make an early change as Brown pulled up with a groin injury.  Looked like he pulled it while contesting for a ball.  Hopefully it won't keep him out long.
  • I said the Rapids were going to be playing 10 on 11 when I heard Mwanga was coming on for Brown but Danny had a decent (but not great) game, particularly with some good hold up play in the first half.  It doesn't justify his salary but he's been worse in the past.
  • I wanted Torres to come in, but he didn't do much of anything when he did enter in the second half.  We need more from our DP.
  • Losing Hairston to injury as well made it hard for Pablo to make tactical changes.  Signs are positive that Hairston will be available Friday though.
  • On both goals Klute looked to be at fault but I don't think he really was on either one.  On the first nobody dropped behind him to take the extra man (I think that was Alvarez's job) and Klute was left in no-man's land covering two players.  On the second Watts was trailing Chara's run and Watts had to stay back and defend the passing lane, which allowed Valeri the space to hit the shot.  Had Klute stepped up to Valeri then Valeri could have dumped it to Chara for the better shot.
  • That said, Valeri hit a hell of a shot.  Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a great move and realize there wasn't much that could be done.
  • The real failure on both goals was the midfield's inability to hold possession in the second half, leaving the defense under pressure for too long.
  • Watts had a horrible game on the back of his two games where he made critical errors.  We need Jose Mari back ASAP but it looks like our best hope on Friday is LaBrocca.
  • Sturgis would also work but I think we got a deal in Alvarez.  He has to work on his defense but I like his aggression in attack.
  • Had Burch not got sick pore-game and started instead of Piermayr as planned the Rapids would have been playing with an all-American XI once Mwanga replaced Brown.
  • Luckily most of the West failed to win this week, so we didn't lose too much ground.
Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown.  Not only did he get the goal but you could see how much the Rapids offense lost when he came off injured.  His absence is going to hurt.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Depleted Rapids Head To Portland

Maybe one of these guys can play?

Missing 4 starters Colorado heads into Providence Park (formerly Jeld-Wen Field) tomorrow night for a tough game against the Timbers.  The Rapids have only ever scored once in Portland, and that goal should have been called offside but it got them their one win in Oregon.  Game time tomorrow night is 9pm MDT and the game is on NBC Sports, which means kickoff is going to be more like 9:20-9:25ish.  NBC Sports is channel 689 on Comcast systems in Denver.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Jose Mari (sprained ankle)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: DF Shane O'Neill; MF Nick LaBrocca; MF Vicente Sanchez

Portland hasn't updated its injury report since June 27th and only then they only had Questionable players so assume they're going to be at full strength.  We, obviously, aren't.  My guess, and that's all it is, at what we see tomorrow night:

With 3 midfielders missing that's the hardest area to figure out.  We've seen Klute on the right at times before and that seems like the safest choice.  Torres showed well last week and I think with our undermanned midfield he might get a chance as a way of holding the ball up top.  The midfield is a toss-up.  We could see Watts benched and Hairston in the back with Eloundou playing for example.

Strategic Consideration: Defense.  Portland has the 4th best offence but the 3rd worst defense.  If we can stay solid in the back we should have opportunities to steal points.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  I think the missing talent is too much to overcome for the Rapids tomorrow.  Because of the weak defense the Rapids will get a goal but our inability to maintain possession in midfield will wear us down and Portland will get a winner late.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Loans, Suspensions, and Bobbleheads!

The big news this week is the Rapids announcement that at the next home game on July 25th Pablo Mastroeni will added to the Gallery of Honor alongside Bravo, Balboa, Henderson, and Spencer.  Due to his obvious responsibilities at halftime the ceremony will occur before kickoff at 7:15.  Also the first 2000 fans will get a Pablo Mastroeni bobblehead.

Also in the news this week, GK Joe Nasco will be loaned to Atlanta, is former club for the rest of the season.  A good move by the Rapids to get their 3rd GK some playing time now that Berner has obviously become the #2 of choice.

The final piece of news, not unexpected, is that the Disciplinary Committee has suspended Shane O'Neill for Friday night's game due to his 11th minute tackle on Cruz in Philly last week.  Its a deserved suspension as that was a horrible tackle but it doesn't make our life on Friday night in Portland any easier.

Finally a tip of the hat to MLS marketing for this awesome Ferris Buller parody starring the Fire's Mike Magee.  There's nothing related to the Rapids in it but its worth watching.  I heard that their first idea was Moor & Minda set in Boulder but it didn't test well.  Nanu, nanu!  :D

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rapids Battle Union To Draw

A great deal of fight and a little bit of luck got Colorado a point in Philly on Saturday night.  Coming from 1-0 and 3-1 down to finish at 3-3 says a lot for the fight of this team, but it also says a lot (not much of it good) for the defense.  A rough day for a couple of players (O'Neill, Watts, LaBrocca) was balanced out by a great game from Powers and Brown.  I didn't think we'd get more than a point from this game so we got what I expected.

My strategic consideration was who was going to be our midfield general with Sanchez out.  As expected Powers and Serna split that responsibility and did their jobs well.
  • I hate to start on a down note, but we have to talk about O'Neill.  His tackle on Cruz in the 11th minute should have been a red card and I expect he'll get a suspension from the Disco this week.  Horrible tackle set up by a horrible cross field pass from Moor.
  • Then O'Neill followed that up by being beaten for both of Philly's first two goals.  I'll forgive him somewhat for being beaten by Casey, it was a textbook Conor goal and we saw him work over more experienced defenders on multiple occasions for the goal, but there's no excuse for letting Williams get ballside of him like Casey did.
  • Yes, #Haters Williams scored against us, unfortunately.
  • Dillon Squared combined very nicely for that first goal.  Serna pulled the trigger immediately instead of looking for the perfect shot and it paid off.
  • The offside on what could have been Philly's goal was called correctly I think.  The striker's knee is just barely behind Moor's back foot which would be offside.  One of those plays that so close you have to assume the AR got it right.
  • LaBrocca was apparently looking for a red card on Saturday.  A stupid yellow for dissent wasn't enough as he kept pushing his luck.  Now he'll sit next week on yellow card accumulation.
  • Watts, what are you doing?  He's now given the ball away with no cover for a goal in two straight games.  How soon until Jose Mari gets back?
  • He did somewhat make up for it by sacrificing his head and drawing the PK.
  • And that was a clear PK.  Not sure it was red card worthy but even a yellow would have had Lahoud sent off since he had a yellow in the first half.
  • Despite the grumbling from the Union, Powers PK run up was completely legal.  He never stopped his momentum but even if he had its allowed during the run up (once you reach the ball you can't stop and not kick it, but you can stop during the run).
  • Amazing touch from Brown on the game-tying goal.  Again, he makes the difficult look easy and the easy look difficult.
  • Credit to Torres for the assist on the goal.  Good to see our DP back and if he plays like that we'll be happy to have him.
  • Philly picked up another red card postgame for some foul and abusive language towards the refs.
  • No Sanchez, LaBrocca, or Jose Mari next week in Portland and probably no O'Neill.  Could be dicey.
Man of the Match: Dillon Powers.  A goal and an assist and kept the team pushing forward when we were down and looking for goals.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup - Complete

Germany: 1 - Argentina: 0 AET
And with that goal Germany are deserved World Cup champions.  Messi had a couple of chances, as did Higuain, but couldn't convert.  In a World Cup that was dominated by the Americas early on, a European team won their first World Cup in the Americas.  This is the fourth World Cup for Germany, but really the first for a united Germany as the first three were won by West Germany.  A 1-0 loss by the U.S. to Germany doesn't look so bad now either.  ;)

Final standings based on round of elimination, then points, then goal differential, then goals scored:
Costa Rica
United States
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Cote D'Ivoire
Korea Republic

Third Place Game - Complete

Netherlands: 3 - Brazil: 0
Not much to say about this one.  Brazil still looked stunned from their game against Germany and the Dutch took advantage.  At least the Dutch figured out how to score from the run of play after two 120 minute scoreless games that went to PKs.  Brazil was outscored 10-1 in their last two games and set all kinds of records they would rather not have.  Shockingly Brazil will have to go into rebuilding mode.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rapids In The City Of Brotherly Love

I have this on my to-be-read shelf

July 12th 100 BC is the best estimation for the birthdate of Julius Caesar.  One of history's great generals and the man who largely helped bring down the Roman Republic, a republic that inspired a number of great men that met in Independence Hall in Philadelphia 1800 years later.  Tomorrow the Rapids will cross the Delftware into Chester to see if they can marshal a result from the birthplace of the Republic.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm and the game is on Altitude as normal.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Jose Mari (sprained ankle)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: MF Vicinte Sanchez (through 7/18)
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca (2 games left for good behavior reduction)

The Union have one player listed as questionable and Edu is suspended due to a red card last week.  Other than the spine of our midfield the Rapids are at full strength.  Wonderful.  My guess at our starting XI :

Pretty similar to last week.  Serna comes in for the suspended Sanchez but otherwise everything else stays the same.  Maybe we see LaBrocca back in Watts spot with an Eloundou or Hairston inserted but I wouldn't expect much more of a change than that.

Strategic Consideration: Who's our Caesar?  Who's the midfield general with Sanchez out?  That's been Powers so hopefully he bounces back from his woeful performance last week but even with that I feel like we still need some creativity.  Serna?

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Brown.  Philly isn't a great team but we are missing both Sanchez and Jose Mari and we're on a long road trip.  Philly played midweek so they'll be tired too but I think this is going to be an ugly draw.  Brown beats the keeper one on one but the lack of Jose Mari leaves a hole in our lines the Union exploits for a goal.

Sanchez Suspended Two Games

Today the MLS Disciplinary Committee announced a 2-game suspension for Vicente Sanchez after his tackle on Hector Jimenez last week against the Columbus Crew.  You can see the tackle here.  He'll miss the road games tomorrow in Philly and next Friday in Portland.

Its a fair punishment for what was, unintentionally, a horrible tackle.  Studs to the knee like that deserve a red and probably a further punishment.  In the long run its not the worst thing in the world either.  Giving our second oldest player (behind Mullan) a rest midseason and having him miss what amounts to a cross-country trip and back will keep him healthy and ready for the final run of the season.  Of course it would be better to make that choice ourselves.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Semifinals - Complete

Germany: 7 - Brazil: 1
Wow.  I'm still not sure I saw what I saw.  Germany ripped Brazil to shreds with 4 goals in 6 minutes.  At times the goals looked like a German player playing a video game against a weak CPU team controlling the Brazilians.  Complete domination.

Argentina: 0 (4) - Netherlands: 0 (2)
Two contrasting games.  This one might have set the sport back 20 years.  Two teams playing not to lose and boring everyone to death.

3rd Place Game:
Brazil - Netherlands - Who knows.  Neither of these teams looked particularly inspired in the semifinals.  I;m going to say Brazil as they redeem a bit of their pride and end with a win.

Germany - Argentina
Before the tournament started I had Argentina losing the final and I think I'm going to get that prediction correct.  OK, I had them losing to Brazil and not Germany, but I get 50%.  ;)  Messi can change a game in an instant but Germany just looks too good.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rapids Fizzle Against The Crew

In front of a great crowd the Rapids shot themselves in the foot and gave away 2 points Friday night.  A lackluster performance from the burgundy boys led to the Crew having the greater control of the match and getting out of town with a draw.  For the most part the Rapids didn't play poorly, they just played very uninspired which allowed a critical error by Dillon Powers and Jared Watts to cost the team the result.

The Rapids got a number of breaks from the officials as well.  Before Colorado got its goal a Crew goal was waved off for offside but the replay shows that Arrieta was probably behind the ball at the moment it was played and it was likely a bad call.  Then after the score was leveled at 1 a loose ball in the Rapids box ended with Sanchez planting his foot into Jimenez's knee but only resulted in a yellow card.  I didn't get a good look but those who did said we can expect an announcement from the Disciplinary Committee later this week of a suspension for Sanchez.  Even Moor's yellow could have been a red with the right (wrong) official.

My strategic consideration was to use the crowd but the team seemed to feed more off the crowd last week against Vancouver than the capacity crowd Friday night.
  • Bad night from Powers capped off with a horrible backpass to nobody that set up the Crew goal.  Everyone's allowed a bad night but that backpass was really unforgivable.
  • Watts had a chance to clear the backpass but he admitted after the game that he got caught in a moment of indecision and ended up touching it right on to Finlay's foot.  One of those things that shows that he's a rookie still learning the pro game.
  • The Rapids goal has been officially classified as an own goal, but it was all through the pressure of Sanchez.
  • That will probably be the last one we see for a couple of games once the DisCo gets through with him.
  • Nice to see the lineup consistency from game to game.
  • I also think Pablo did a good job with the subs.  He pulled Hill, who was ineffective, to insert some energy in Serna.  Then he put in Buddle to help hold up the ball and brought off Brown who was having a hard time with his first touch.  Finally, after the Crew leveled, he pulled the struggling Powers for Hairston.  The only other possible move would have been Torres.
  • Buddle actually had a pretty good game.  Good touches, good vision, he just didn't find #100.
  • Only 2 shots on goal all game isn't good enough.
  • This loss is more on the players than the coaching.  They were just too flat and the Crew took advantage.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Kept us in the match as things fell apart in the second half.  One of his saves is up for Save of the Week.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Quarterfinals - Complete

Germany: 1 - France: 0
Zzzzzzz....  Germany got the goal they needed early and forced France to beat them, which they couldn't do.

Brazil: 2 - Colombia: 1
The ref lost complete control of this one, to Brazil's general advantage though Neymar paid the highest price.  That injury doesn't happen IMO if the ref cracks down on the hard tackles early.  I'm not sure the result is different with a different ref but at least its a real game of soccer.  Well, Brazil has the excuse they need now as the way they've been playing they weren't going to win it all.

Argentina: 1 - Belgium: 0
Where was this Belgium side on Tuesday?  This Belgium side we might have beat.  I'm surprised Argentina never found a second but based on their play I think their the favorite right now.

Netherlands: 0 (4) - Costa Rica: 0 (3)
The Ticos went out with heads held high in this one.  They've earned everyone's respect.  And they added to the legend of CONCACAF goalkeeping at this World Cup, if the Best XI goalkeeper isn't from CONCACF it will be a travesty.  Louis van Gaal's gamble of switching keepers paid off in the shootout.

Germany - Brazil - A weakened Brazil side won't hold up to Germany and the hopes of putting 1950 to rest will be dashed.

Argentina - Netherlands - Messi will lead the Argentines to the World Cup final and take his place along-side Maradona in the fan's eyes.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rapids Hope To Go Boom On The Fourth!

Bellingham Bay, WA fireworks, same ones we saw 16 years ago at our wedding reception

The annual Independence Day game tomorrow with the Columbus Crew as the opponent.  With the post-game fireworks the kickoff will be at 7:30pm instead of the normal 7pm.  That means the tailgate starts at 4:30 and its not in its normal spot due to preparations for the World Lacrosse Championships that start next week.  Instead its in the SE corner of Lot G (essentially West 2 lots from our normal spot) as seen here.  The 4th of July game is always a sellout so expect jammed packed parking lots and get there early.  Those of you who can't make it can watch on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Jose Mari (sprained ankle)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca (3 games left for good behavior reduction)

As of the last injury report update a week ago Columbus had 4 players listed as out.  They also have 2 players on the Costa Rican national team that will be playing the Dutch in the World Cup Quarterfinals on Saturday.  My guess at our starting XI :

Pretty much if its not broken, don't fix it.  Maybe we see Serna instead of Hill or something, but I would expect basically the same 11 we say Saturday night against the Whitecaps.

Strategic Consideration: Use the crowd!  After being pretty successful on the 4th at Mile High and Invesco Field the Rapids have had a mixed bag at the Dick with 2 wins, 3 draws, and 2 losses all time.  Not the way you want to perform in front of the biggest crowd of the year.  They need to feed off the energy and put Columbus away.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Sanchez and Brown.  I expect the Rapids to have a dominant performance tomorrow night the way they've been playing.  Plenty of rest, almost all the first team starters available, and a team that has been struggling, especially defensively on the road (11 goals allowed in 8 games).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rapids Acquire Carlos Alvarez

Yesterday the Rapids traded Nathan Sturgis to Chivas USA for midfielder Carlos Alvarez.  Alvarez is an attacking midfielder who was the 2nd choice in the 2013 Superdraft (taken before Brown at 6 and Powers at 11).  He's played in 40 of Chivas USA's 49 games since being drafted  with 2 goals and 3 assists in 2013.

I like this trade for Colorado.  Like I said earlier in the week Sturgis is a solid role player for a MLS team but nothing more for the Rapids.  I'm a little surprised we picked up another young midfielder, but we seem to be having good luck with our youth movement so hopefully Alvarez will benefit from that.  The Rapids also save somewhere between 15K and 40K in salary with the move.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Round Of 16 - Complete

PaySimple today in the 1st half

France: 2 - Nigeria: 0
One of the more solid performances in the Round of 16 by France.  It took them until the last 15 or so to score but you could tell the goal was coming eventually.

Germany: 2 - Algeria: 1
Germany could have saved itself 30 minutes of play if it had scored 90 seconds before the start of extra time instead of 90 seconds after.  And then when they thought they had the game put away Algeria came back with a goal to make it interesting.  Hat tip to Algeria for going toe-to-toe with Germany and almost forcing penalty kicks.  A better performance than anyone expected.

Argentina: 1 - Switzerland: 0
Messi and company left it very late (end of extra time) but got the job done as expected.  The Swiss put up a good fight but it only take a minute for Messi to break your heart.

Belgium: 2 - United States: 1
Ouch.  I predicted the U.S. would keep it close but lose, and that's what they did.  Belgium was clearly the better team but Howard set a World Cup record for saves and kept us in the game and Wondolowski had a chance to win it at the death only to shank it.  What a way to get yourself cap-tied though Green.  first career touch in the World Cup is a goal?  Nicely done.

Germany - France - Hmm, you think these two teams have some history?  Germany gets the win but France pushes them to the end.

Argentina - Belgium - Argentina gets an outmatched Belgium team and what should be a somewhat easy path to the semifinals.