Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Starting Up Again As The Year Ends

After a much needed break from Rapids blogging and a bunch of holiday travel I'm back.  Not surprisingly I haven't missed much.  ;)  Colorado has a long history of not doing much in the offseason until after New Year's and that seems to have continued this year.  The one bit of news that we got recently was the announcement of the home openers, with the further announcement that we'll get the whole schedule a week from today.  We already know the Rapids first three games.

Sunday March 6th, 1pm @ San Jose
Saturday March 12th LA
Saturday March 19th @ DC

Kickoff times for the home opener and game in DC have not been announced yet.

That's a tough opening trio.  LA has started slowly the last couple of seasons so that might help us but trips to SJ and DC are never easy.  At the same time this team can't afford a slow start next season.  They probably need 7 points out of those 3 games to prove things have changed, 5 points might be enough.

I expect thing to start ramping up next week.  Some upcoming dates:

Jan 7th-12th - Combine
Jan 14th - Superdraft
Jan 21st-25th - Based on last season the Rapids should open camp in this time frame
Feb 13th - Preseason match @ Sacremento
Feb 17th-27th - Desert Diamond Cup @ Tucson

Colorado has a lot of work to do in the next 3 weeks before camp opens.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Goodbye Drew And Thanks!

Today the rumors were made official.  Drew Moor is no longer a Rapid.  The last remaining player from the 2010 MLs Cup team has signed with Toronto FC.  Two weeks ago the Rapids declined his option and under the new CBA that made Moor a free agent (28 years old or older with 8 years in MLS).  He had offers from multiple clubs but last week signs started pointing heavily towards him heading north of the border to Toronto and the Reds finalized the deal today.

There's no doubt Moor will be missed.  IMO this is a big mistake by the Rapids to not only let him go but to do so in a way that ensured we'd get nothing for him.

At the same time I'm very happy for Drew.  He'll get a chance to earn more money and continue his career where he's expected to be a cornerstone of the defense and a leader, both roles he seemed to be moved out of in Colorado last year.

I expect Conor Casey to be the next name added to the Gallery of Honor, but only because I expect him to retire before Moor.  As soon as Drew does retire though his name should go up there the next season.  He is a Rapids legend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pappa Traded To Colorado

The Rapids made it official today, trading allocation money to Seattle for Marco Pappa.  From the press release its obvious Pappa is expected to play the same role, though hopefully more centrally, that Sanchez did.  He's going to be looked for to be the creator and setup man for Doyle and the other strikers.

This is a solid move by the club but it can't be the highlight of the offseason like Sarvas was last year.  This is piece of the puzzle that is the 2016 roster but its not the final piece.

Current roster:

GK John Berner
GK Clint Irwin
D March Burch
D Joseph Greenspan (when on leave from the U.S. Navy)
D Marlon Hairston
D Axel Sjoberg
D Sean St. Ledger
M Michael Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Marco Pappa
M Dillon Powers
M Dillon Serna
M Juan Ramirez
M Marcelo Sarvas
M Jared Watts
F Dominque Badji
F Caleb Calvert
F Kevin Doyle
F Luis Solignac

With Drew Moor still negotiating (though signs point to him signing with Toronto).

Friday, December 11, 2015

MacMath In, Pappa Likely

Welcome back Zac MacMath.  Today the Front Office announced that MacMath will be returning as a full member of the Rapids as we sent our 2017 2nd round draft pick to Philly today for him.  This isn't that much of a surprise as the language used in the announcement that his loan ended and he returned to Philly made it pretty clear we wanted him back, but not at the cost of the previously negotiated first round pick next year, which is the #2 pick overall.

This is a sold move to pick up a MLS quality keeper for a cheap price.  I'm a little concerned about paying 6 figures for a backup though.  The other possibility is that there's a deal brewing for Irwin and there's some rumors to that extent.  I'd hate to lose Irwin but if the deal's good enough then this move makes a lot of sense.

Late today lots of reports started appearing that Seattle's Marco Pappa removed his name from today's Stage 1 Re-entry Draft (all but two teams failed to make a pick BTW) because Seattle is on the verge of announcing a trade to send him here to Colorado.  This is a really good move to reinforce the midfield, especially if Powers' trail at Reading turns into a move.  Of course the details matter so we'll have to see what the cost is but I'm cautiously optimistic (of course I was optimistic about Sarvas last off-season and that didn't pan out as well as I hoped).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Colorado Adds Two

Today the Rapids added two to the current roster.

First they signed a new deal with Sean St. Ledger.  Good move, he was solid last season and we need the central defense support.

Second they made the only pick in today's waiver draft, picking Michael Azira from Seattle.  Azira appears to be a defensive midfielder but I don't know much about him.  In 2 seasons in Seattle he's played 1333 minutes over 25 games.  There is a rumor that Vancouver was interested in him so this may be a pickup with hopes to trade.

Current roster:

GK John Berner
GK Clint Irwin
D March Burch
D Joseph Greenspan (his primary contract is still with the U.S. Navy though)
D Marlon Hairston
D Axel Sjoberg
D Sean St. Ledger
M Michael Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Dillon Powers
M Dillon Serna
M Juan Ramirez
M Marcelo Sarvas
M Jared Watts
F Dominque Badji
F Caleb Calvert
F Kevin Doyle
F Luis Solignac

With Drew Moor still negotiating.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rapids Make Roster Moves

This afternoon the Front Office announced who would be returning and who's been cut from the 2015 roster for 2016.

Returning (either under contract or option picked up):
GK John Berner
GK Clint Irwin
D March Burch
D Joseph Greenspan (his primary contract is still with the U.S. Navy though)
D Marlon Hairston
D Axel Sjoberg
M Sam Cronin
M Dillon Powers
M Dillon Serna
M Juan Ramirez
M Marcelo Sarvas
M Jared Watts
F Dominque Badji
F Caleb Calvert
F Kevin Doyle
F Luis Solignac

Negotiating for a new contract:
D Drew Moor
D Sean St. Ledger

Cut (either out of contract or option not picked up):
GK Zak MacMath (loan expired)
D Bobby Burling
D Maynor Figueroa
D Michael Harrington
D James Riley
M Carlos Alvarez
M Nick LaBrocca
M Lucas Pittinari (loan expired)
M Vicente Sanchez
F Charles Eloundou
F Gabriel Torres

Alvarez, Sanchez, and Torres will be in the re-entry drafts over the next couple of weeks.  Moor could also be in the drafts if he doesn't come to an agreement with the club.  I've heard a rumor that he might be wanting to test the waters to see if there's more money out there but the fact that he's listed as negotiating with the club is probably a good sign that he's open to staying in Colorado.

Overall these look like pretty solid moves IF they get Moor back under contract.  Losing him, especially if we get nothing out of it, would be a significant blow.  Other than that I don't see a whole lot of future in the player's were letting go.  If you go back a month to my Roster Review you'll see that I listed 6 players that should be let go, all 6 of them were released today.  I had Eloundou and Figueroa on my keep list, I've always personally liked Eloundou but I realize I'm a minority in that opinion.  Figueroa was a keeper based on keeping his salary around the $100K he was listed under last year, if his option had a significant escalation I can understand not retaining him.  I also had Moor and St. Ledger as keepers.  Everyone else was in a middle ground of "good enough but we should look to do better" and I'm glad we're apparently trying to do that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Two Bits Of News

After two weeks we've got a bit of news coming out of the Rapids.  First the "smaller" news.  Dillon Powers' trial at Reading FC of the English Championship has been extended for a week.  This is nothing but good news, if they had no real interest they would have just let him go.  Apparently they had a second similar player on trial at the same time and didn't extend him so they are taking a serious look at Powers as a long-term solution.

Now the big news.  From Marco Cummings on Twitter (Cummings has covered the Rapids at time for both the Post and
REPORT: Claudio Lopez "confirms" Colorado Rapids "in talks" with Real Sociedad and Carlos Vela
This is the first "on-record" confirmation that we have that the Rapids are really working on getting Vela.  In reality, this is the first "on-record" confirmation that the Rapids have ever been going after a name of the stature of Vela's.  This alone is a huge step for the club.

If you feed the link above through a translator you'll see that Real Sociedad is asking for 15 million Euros (about 16 million dollars) for Vela, since they have him under contract through the 2017-18 season.  This would be, by far, the biggest transfer fee ever paid by MLS (the current record is $10 million for Michael Bradley).  My bet is that a large part of the negotiations is working on getting that number down to something closer to Bradley's number.  Normally on transfer fees the club pays the transfer fee but for certain "key" DPs the league has stepped in and covered part or all of the transfer fee.  They did so for players like Bradley, Dempsey, Valeri, and Gaby Torres.  I would expect the league to do something similar here if a deal is reached.  That still leaves a multi-million dollar salary that KSE will be paying.

This is a deal the Rapids must get done.  This team has historically over-promised and under-delivered.  They've now made it official that they are willing to spend big money for a big player.  Coming off our worst two-season run in team history this is the type of signing this team needs.  Even if he's not worth $20 million in transfer fee and salary on the field (or whatever they negotiate ti down to) he's worth it off the field in sponsorship revenue, ticket sales, jersey sales, and as an indicator to the fan base the the Rapids are doing something to turn this ship around.

If Vela decides he doesn't want to come to MLS, fine.  Sometimes the player just isn't interested.  If that's the case though the Rapids MUST have a back up plan for another record (for the team) signing and they MUST get it done before the start of the 2016 season.  They can't go on the record about Vela, fail to get him, and then sign nobody else of note before the season.  That's just more of the same talk but no action this team has historically shown.  There's NO excuse for Vela to play for another MLS team next year.  Paul Bravo has confirmed that the Rapids have the first Discovery claim on Vela.  We now know we're in negotiations with Vela.  If Vela were to end up somewhere else in the league it would be a complete failure by the Front Office.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dillon Powers On Trial With Reading

This morning The Sun reported that Dillon Powers is on trial with English Championship side Reading FC.  The English club is currently dealing with a couple of midfield injuries and could use the help.  It was just Friday in the Denver Post that Paul Bravo talked about how it was likely that they would be selling Powers sooner rather than later.  It looks like that time might be when the window opens on January.

Reading has been home to a number of Americans over the years.  Current Nats player Danny Williams is on the squad at hte moment.  Former Rapid Marcus Hahnemann played the majority of his career at Reding and Bobby Convey transferred from DC to Reading in 2004.  also current Rapid Kevin Doyle made 157 appearances for Reading in 4 seasons, scoring 55 times.  He's already tweeted that he hope it works out there for Powers.

Overall I think this would be a good move for Powers and, if the price is right, the Rapids.  Bravo is correct, we will be selling Powers sooner or later and I think he'd do better in the Championship than the rumored Serie A or Serie B transfer.  Assuming we can get value for him its the best move all around.  Just as long as he doesn't score or assist against Blackburn!

Friday, November 6, 2015

To Buy Or Not To Buy: 2016 Season Tickets

Last year around this time I discussed my decision to purchase 2015 season tickets.  As part of that I said that if the then-current Rapids woes continue I would be pressuring Centennial 38 (C38) to not renew the season ticket deal they had with the Front Office as that was the only way for C38 season ticket members to put pressure on the Front Office.  During this season I talked to most of the C38 board members about the ticket deal and my feeling that we shouldn’t be making a deal with the Rapids.  In the end C38 did make another season ticket deal with the Front Office that includes my seat for 2016.  So that leaves me in the same bind I was in last season with my decision having a more direct impact on C38 than on the Rapids.

As part of my decision making I reached out to the C38 board to ask them a couple of questions about their plans for both 2016 and, should the poor performance of the team continue, 2017.  They had a discussion about my questions at a recent board meeting and sent me a reply which they’re happy for me to share here.  Here are the questions I asked:
  • In light of the current plan being discussed publicly for the 2016 season by the Rapids front office which appears to be minimal changes to what they did this year, what can C38 offer fans as a good reason to buy/renew season tickets for next season?
  • Should 2016 not see a significant improvement over the last two years on the field has the C38 board discussed what the strategy will be when discussing 2017 ticket options with the Rapids?  If I decide to get tickets for 2016 I don't want to be asking my first question again at this time next year.
Here is the Centennial 38 board's combined answer to my two questions:

First, I think the thing to be clear on here is that no one in C38 can be happy with how the season has gone and how last year finished. It’s created more challenges for the group to have to tackle and, just as individual fans, has been heart breaking to see the team we love struggle so profusely on the field. As for why to renew or purchase a ticket for next season, there is a huge personal element to that as everyone has their own specific breaking point.  Why we think that people should renew or get their tickets through C38 though is fairly extensive.

First, we create an atmosphere that is far and above what just happens on the field. We have the best pre-game tailgate in the league every single home game where you can socialize and enjoy a portion of your day that lasts longer than the game itself. It’s a chance to meet new people, catch up with friends you may only see at games and just enjoy the community as a whole. On top of that, revenue created stays within the group and helps pay for things like tifo or equipment for the tailgate, etc.
Second, C38, because of leveraging our size through a bulk ticket purchase, is able to provide special events and team access that you just don’t get otherwise. Your renewal or purchase supports that.  For example, in the last year, we have hosted 500 members in the lower bowl of the Pepsi Center for an Avs game, we get special items for giveaways and player appearances at our several member events, the All Star Game party where 400 people got to enjoy free food, drinks and transportation to the game, the Elitches viewing party mid-season and the great kickoff party for 400 folks are all possible because of your support of the group by buying tickets through C38.

Also, and probably more importantly, is just the simple love of the sport and this team. We get how bad they have been the last 2 years and we aren’t doing the ticket deal with the front office as an endorsement of that performance. The reason we are doing it though is that enough of our folks are wanting to come back due to that love of the badge and we want to support them in that pursuit. By buying the large block and people taking part in that, we are able to control pricing. This is a major reason why we do it, along with some desired autonomy in the stadium, and people buying through C38 continues the ability of the group to be able to provide that. Over the past 3 seasons, that total savings for members is in the 6 figure amount.

The ticket deal that we do through the front office helps provide for and protect the C38 community. The security issues are miniscule compared to before 2013 when we first bought the sections. It offers chances to help out members when they are in a pinch, create some great giveaways, events, offset away trip costs, and the like, plus it keeps all your money within that independent community.
Lastly, we are going to buy a large block of tickets regardless as it supports our members in the multiple ways mentioned above that want to continue coming out. It would be money already spent and buying through C38 isn’t an endorsement of the team’s current status or add to the KSE coffers if that is a form of protest that is important to you. You won’t be spending your money with KSE, but instead you will be putting it into a group that will then put any remaining money back into you and the group. 

As for the future, we have made some adjustments to the plan. Instead of renewing for 3 years, we are only signing on for a single year. We are doing this as a response to the team’s recent form. A multi-year deal right now is not consistent with the commitment to improvement we expect to see on the field.  In addition to that, we are retracting our total purchase number by at least 200 seats because, as it stands, this isn’t a product that commands our previous ticket commitment. It also helps the group stay viable, but it still warrants the support of its members that are dedicated to this team win or lose. Ultimately though, the team needs to improve to keep this idea of owning multiple sections of the stadium in place. That is why we are culling it back in years and total number, to allow us to assess as the season ends.

I want to extend my appreciation to the C38 board for taking the time to seriously consider my questions and give me a well-reasoned response.  While I don’t agree with everything in the response it was well thought out and I understand where the board is coming from.

I am glad to see there is some pressure being exerted on the Front Office in the form of a shorter contract for fewer tickets.  The only way anything changes at this point is if the Rapids make less money due to the play on the field.  That said C38 is locking in two large groups of tickets (Section 108 and the Terraces) after two failed seasons so that  has to be a nice base for Tim Hinchey to build from as he works on the 2016 season ticket numbers.

At this point I still don’t know what I’m going to do for 2016.  As bad as this team is I still enjoy going to games but it has nothing to do with the Rapids at this and everything to do with Centennial 38.  From the great tailgate crew through the friends around me in the stands (including that Zero I referenced last year ;) ) I have a good time out at the stadium.  I just hate the fact that I feel like I’m rewarding the team for failure at this point.

One decision I’ve made regardless is that I’m cutting back on how much time I’m giving to the team each game.  For the last 7+ years I’ve been part of the C38 tailgate crew doing 80% of the soda purchasing and delivering for the tailgates.  That’s meant being at the tailgate from the beginning almost every home game which means a Rapids game takes 6-7 hours of my day (including drive time) each time.  I’ve been happy to do it but I’ve done enough.  If I renew my tickets I’ll only be doing soda for about a third of the tailgates which means most games I can reduce that time to something around 4.5 hours (if I still want to stop by and see everyone at the tailgate) to as little as 3.5 hours if I show up just before kickoff.   That’s all this team deserves at this point and my wife will appreciate not seeing half of our summer Saturdays completely lost to soccer. :D

I’m going to have to think about this question for a while longer.  Maybe the Rapids will do something to show they’re actually going to improve (Carlos Vela?) which would make my decision easier.  The announcement in the Denver Post yesterday that Pablo will be back certainly gave me no reason to get excited and buy tickets though.  If I, as the oldest fan blogger for the team, am seriously considering not buying season tickets what does that say about the state of the fan base and can the Rapids really afford another lost season?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

More Quotes About Pablo

Apparently there were more quotes from Tim and Paul about Pablo.  Looking at a few of Tim's comments:
On when the club decided to bring Mastroeni back
“We saw improvement over the second half of the season. It doesn’t mask how upset we are with the entire results of the year, but at the same time, for me, I don’t think it ever got to a point where it was a real consideration.”
Improvement being going from 15 points (.88 pts/game) to 22 points (1.29 pts/game).  Neither of those is playoff level soccer.
On whether the Rapids made a mistake hiring Mastroenibefore he was ready, considering his 17-32-18 record
“The evidence doesn’t lie. That’s just not good enough. That’s terrible. We’re not going to make any excuses or anything like that. We owe the fanbase a lot more than 17 wins over that many matches. We’re keenly aware of that. He’s aware of that. We’re all aware of that. We just have to do better. And I’m completely angry with our home form in particular. But I think we knew that it was going to be tough. Paul and I were put in a difficult situation with that coaching change at the timing when it happened. We certainly tried to do our due diligence with some coaches.”
Do I really need to go over this discussion again?  Or should I just point back to my prior posts on the subject?
On how long the Rapids are willing to stick with Mastroeni if the club finishes last next season
“It’d be unfair for me to speculate that far in advance. That’s an impossible thing for me to answer.”
“But I can tell you I don’t want to endure anymore pain, period. So we’re going to look at this very seriously as we start the season. It’s not just Pablo we’re talking myself, Paul, all of us are going to be held accountable going forward. All I can tell you is we’re completely focused on not having anymore pain.”
12-13 points in the first 5 games is the anesthetic I need to make the pain I'm feeling about the news that there will be no leadership changes go away.

And Now The Bad News

I know I said earlier this week that I was done with the commentary for a while but then we had news today.  The other half of the news today was this:

Colorado Rapids president: Pablo Mastroeni will be back as coach

 Yeah, really not the news any of us wanted to hear.  We all know why Pablo shouldn't be back at this point, I won't go into that again.  Let's take a look at some of the quotes from the article though.

"I guarantee he's going to be a successful coach in this league," Rapids president Tim Hinchey told reporters at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. "What I hope is that it's here."
Tim, the fact that you're not making a coaching change pretty much means your guaranteeing it by putting your job on the line.

"He's got 60 percent of the field sorted out," Bravo said. "If you take from our goalline to the first ten yards of the opponent's half, we're as good as any team in the league."
You know why strikers get paid the big bucks in soccer?  Because attacking is the hardest piece to figure out.  We do have a solid defense but that's largely due to putting 7, 8, sometimes 9 defensive-minded players on the field.  Hardly the "entertaining, attacking soccer" we've been promised in the past.

"That's terrible," Hinchey said. "We're not going to make any excuses. We owe the fan base a lot more than 17 wins over that many matches. We're keenly aware of that.
"Were all going to be held accountable at the end of the day. But for this group right now, stability is the right course for action."
End of what day Tim?  We've completely failed in all our on-field goals the last two seasons.  How is keeping that stable going to help?

Hinchey added that he was "completely angry" with the way the Rapids played at home. Last year, he said making Dick's Sporting Goods Park a "fortress" was his top priority, but Colorado was 5-7-5 at home — worst in MLS.
Apparently we're not holding anyone accountable for that yet...

"It's disrespectful to call (Kreis) an 'obvious upgrade over Pablo,'" Hinchey said. "I have a head coach so I'm not interested in commenting on other people that are available."
Ok now, that's just insulting.  Kreis only has a MLS Cup, another MLS Cup appearance, a U.S. Open Cup final appearance, and a CONCACAF Champions League final appearance, not to mention an all time 112-67-95 record, good for a 1.47 pts/game average.  In comparison the Rapids best-ever career coaching record was Gary Smith's 1.43  Pablo's current record is 1.02 pts/game.  To suggest that calling Kreis an obvious upgrade is disrespectful is ridiculous.  Sigi Schmid may be out in Seattle if they don't win it all, would calling him an obvious upgrade also be disrespectful?

This article was nothing but spin from Hinchey and Bravo to try to sell the fact that Pablo is coming back.  I was really hoping they were going to come to their senses and make a change but this article makes it pretty clear that's not going to happen yet.  For this to work they need to come out of the starting blocks earning 12-13 points in the first 5 games.  Otherwise the figurative pitchforks and torches will be out and the fans will be storming the gates.

Good News, Bad News

Two pieces of news today from Daniel Boniface of the Post sitting down with Tim and Paul.  The good news in this post, the bad in the next one later tonight.

plans to keep the No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick. As it stands, would return to .
I'm happy to see the Rapids are doing the right thing and keeping the #2 pick.  The way that second part is phrased I wonder if the Rapids are negotiating with the Union for a lower price.  Its no secret that MacMath and the Union have no interest in continuing their relationship.  I wouldn't be shocked to see him stay in exchange for a lower round pick (though at his salary level I don't think its worth it).

Monday, November 2, 2015

2015 Roster Review

Time for my annual roster review.  This is where I try to break down the roster with what I think the Rapids should do with each player within the realities of MLS's roster and acquisition rules, knowing that its a salary cap league.  This also assumes roughly the same leadership next season (Pablo/Lopez/Bravo/some offensive coach addition). The number after each player's name is their 2015 base salary.

F Dominque Badji, 50K - I would  plan to send him to Charlotte for 2016 but at the minimum he's worth another year of work
GK John Berner, 60K - Good quality backup keeper
F Kevin Doyle, 1.125M - I think with some sort of decent service and a whole season with the club he's easily into double-digit goals
F Charles Eloundou, 60K - Same rational as Badji plus I seem to like him more than most
D Maynor Figueroa, 100K - Best outside back on the roster
D Joseph Greenspan, 50K - The Navy will have their say but if  he's available we should use him
D Marlon Hairston, 80K - I'd like to see him get more playing time in Colorado than Charlotte at this point
GK Clint Irwin, 85K - Duh.  And give him a raise
D Drew Moor 258.5K - Duh.  There's a rumor that NYCFC is willing to greatly overpay for him.  If so then a trade might be worth it but otherwise he should stay.  And give him the captain's armband back
M Dillon Powers, 245K - If the rumored Serie A interest develops I could see selling him for a good price but short of that he needs to be installed as an every-game starter next season
M Juan Ramirez, 75K (plus transfer fee payment) - He's got some good skills but he need a lot of coaching
M Dillon Serna, 60K - He needs more playing time
D Axel Sjoberg, 60K - Another good find in the draft
D Sean St. Ledger, 125K - I liked what I saw, he wasn't perfect but we have greater needs than replacing him

Keep for now, be looking for an upgrade:
D Marc Burch, 110K - He's a little too expensive for what he brings.  If you could get him to take a pay cut to under 100K I'd move him to the Keep category
M Sam Cronin, 200K - Mainly because he's the best of our defensive mids but I don't love keeping him at that salary
M Vicente Sanchez, 210K - I know, he was great this season, but at his age and salary I'm not sure we should be building anything around him and if we don't I don't know how well he'll work with whatever offensive plan we see next season
M Marcelo Sarvas, 360K - Not nearly enough bang for the buck but I don't think he should just be cut.  Possible trade-bait
F Luis Solignac, 65K - Injuries derailed this season but I didn't see much out of him
F Gabriel Torres, 262K (plus transfer fee payment) - I don't know what to do about Torres.  Maybe cutting is better but I feel like there might still be something there
D Jared Watts, 60K - Just not a fan

Return from loan:
GK Zac MacMath, 130K - He's not worth the #2 overall pick to sit the bench
M Lucas Pittinari, 190K - Not good and rumored to have a very large (high-priced DP level) loan buyout

D Bobby Burling, 132K - we have to be able to do better than him, he's too much of a card magnet for that price
D Michael Harrington, 130K - Based on rumors I don't think he's happy here and I think the he and the Rapids will find a way to part ways
M Nick LaBrocca, 160K - I never liked having both him and Cronin on the roster and Cronin was the better option
D James Riley, 77.5K - Never should have come out of retirement

Unknown (not enough/no playing time):
M Carlos Alvarez, 70K
F Caleb Calvert, 65K

So that's 6 players to replace with another 7 to try to upgrade.  Not unreasonable for an offseason.  It also frees up 820K of salary cap which can be used for a number of players.

With that its time for a break.  This season has really worn me down.  I'll continue to update with any news the Rapids have but don'y expect any analysis or commentary for a few weeks.  I need some time to recharge.

Of course all that goes out the window if the Rapids do something major (DP signing, coaching change, executive change. etc.).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 Prediction Review

In my season preview in March I made a few predictions for the season.  Lets see how I did.
  • We're not really a playoff threat this season but we improve from last year's disaster.
Well we certainly weren't a playoff threat.  Technically we improved by .15 pts/game so I guess I got this one right but certainly not the improvement I was hoping for.
  • The winless streak reaches 17 games before being broken on Jameson Night
Missed it by that much!  The streak went 18 games before the 4-0 win in Dallas.
  • Pablo makes it through 2015 as coach and is not immediately fired after the season
Sadly I nailed this one.
  • We do win back the Rocky Mountain Cup in an upset, its a large part of why Pablo keeps his job
Not sure it was an upset and I don't think it made that much a difference in Pablo's job but we did win the Cup!
  • We host a USOC game but we still go losing a game we were favored in
We hosted the Switchbacks but I don't think we were favored in Houston, half right,
  • Doyle joins in July and proves to be a great, but too late, signing
May actually and I'm not sure he was great, but he was good.  He was also too late.  I'll take half credit.
  • Torres wins the team Golden Boot
Tied for second, one goal behind Doyle.  Close but no cigar.
  • Irwin or MacMath leaves at the end of the year if not before
I hope MacMath is out at this point  but its still an open question for now.
  • Ramirez turns out to be worth the young DP slot, but Pittinari returns to Argentina after his loan
Pittinari does need to go home but I'm not sure Ramirez proved he earned the DP slot.  He's worth more time though.
  • We go most of the season without a jersey sponsor, again
Missed on this one, I did not see Transamerica coming.  Kudos to the FO on that one.

Out of 10 predictions I think I got more than half right.  Not too bad overall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Player Of The Year

Lets start by looking back at my Man of the Match awards:

1 award - Badji, Burling, Eloundou, Harrington, LaBrocca, Pittinari, Sarvas, Sjoberg, Solignac, Torres

2 awards - Sanchez, Serna

3 awards - Ramirez

4 awards - Doyle, Powers

9 awards - Irwin

Well, that makes this easy.  My player of the year is Clint Irwin

This is really a no-brainer.  Irwin was the most consistent and best player on the team this season.  He single-handedly kept us in several games.  He was also a leader off the field (mainly through Twitter) acknowledging to the fans that things weren't good and tanking them for their support.

I'd have to say the runner-up is a tie between Sanchez and Doyle.  Both were the only thing close to a consistent offense this team had but both also had their weaknesses.  Doyle isn't the type of player that can create on his own, while Sanchez tried to do too much at times this year.  Doyle led the team in goals with 5 while only playing less than 50% of the season,  4 of his goals were game-winners.  Sanchez had 9 total goals and assists, tied with Powers for the team lead.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It Ends As It Began

Honestly I don't even have the enthusiasm to do an animated recap at this point.  I just wanted to mention that the most interesting thing about yesterday's 4-1 loss is that the last Rapids goal of the season was scored by the same player who scored the first goal of the season, Dominique Badji.

Later this week we'll have my normal year end wrap ups (player o the year, keep/cut lists, etc.) and I'll have a post about why I haven't bought season tickets for 2016 yet and where my current thinking is on that.

After that I'm probably going to take a long break from Rapids commentary.  The burn-out level is high at this point and I need a break from the frustration of this team.  I'll continue to update the blog with any news and should there be "big" news (leadership changes, major player movement, etc.) I'll be back with full coverage.  Given the track record of this FO though my bet is that we get a few cuts, maybe an official statement of Pablo's return, and then quiet until after the holidays.

Man of the Match: Dominique Badji.  Why not?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Colorado Ends Season In Portland

That's All Folks!

One game left this season as the Rapids are in the Pacific NW to face the Timbers.  Colorado has nothing other than whatever pride they might have left to play for while Portland has everything on the line.  A win or a tie clinches a playoff spot (as does any lack of win by Seattle, San Jose, or KC) and with a win and some help they could move as high as the 2 seed in the West.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm (as is all the Western Conference games as part of MLS's Decision Day) and 'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington (foot surgery, out for season)
QUESTIONABLE: D Drew Moor (foot); D Jared Watts (toe); M Dillon Serna (left hamstring)

SUSPENDED: M Sam Cronin (through 1st game of 2016, red & yellow card accumulation)

Portland has Valeri suspended and Johnson is questionable.  We'll see how much experimenting Pablo does on short rest for this one, though I'm sure MacMath will start.  Despite what some fans seem to think that's not an insult to Irwin, this is the time we should be seeing what MacMath has now that we've been eliminated.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  Portland is going to go all out to get the win and move up in their seeding.  We're on short rest with 2 road games in 4 days (thanks KC) and I don't see us putting up much of a fight to end this season.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rapids Play Spoiler In KC

Next to last game of the season:

5' in, Solignac skies an easy shot over the bar:

Rest of the half:

Second half starts:

Powers gets behind the D and sweetly chips the keeper:

Cronin picks up a second stupid yellow in the game:

Sarvas scores!
Peter Parker playing the role of KC

Rapids win!

Man of the Match: Juan Ramirez.  It should really go to KC for wimping out of the replay and rescheduling the game at a time we were prepared to beat them.  Or maybe Dillon Powers for scoring on Back to the Future day so I could use that "unless you've got POWER(S)" clip.  In the end though Ramirez' two cross-field assists gets him the award.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Makeup Game In KC

Thunderstorm in KC

The Rapids are back in KC tomorrow night making up the game that was cancelled by lightning.  You remember that, when KC wimped out of playing the next day and then playing in any of the bye weeks since then just to make us come back on the Wednesday before the end of the season before we have to fly to Portland?  And how the Rapids just accepted it without any public hint of complaint?  Yeah, that game.  I'm really hoping that the Rapids punk Sporting tomorrow just to mess with their playoff seeding after that bush league move.  Game time tomorrow night is 6:30pm and thee game is on Altitude 2 due to Avs coverage on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington (foot surgery, out for season); D Jared Watts (toe); M Dillon Serna (left hamstring)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley; D Jared Watts; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari; M Marcelo Sarvas

KC has 6 players questionable but has to be all in for playoff seeding.  The Rapids, of course, have nothing to play for.  Because of that I expect experimental Pablo tomorrow and I'm not going to try to predict the lineup.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  KC is at home with something to play for.  They will have to save something for Sunday but they'll do enough to get a lead and hold it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Home Season Ends Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Going back to the old new format:

Looking at a starting roster with some new faces:
Experimenting with the lineup is good at this point, usually

11' Drogba hits a beauty of a free kick
Even being the opposition I had to applaud the quality

The next 74 minutes, which consisted of a total of 4 shots on goal (2 for each team)

85' Pablo subs in a defender (Greenspan) for a midfielder down 1-0

Somebody needed to death stare Pablo before that sub

92', Pittinari gets our only good look at goal

Home season ends

Man of the Match: Lucas Pittinari.  He came the closest to scoring in a game where nobody stood out.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Home Season Finally Ending

Drogba tomorrow

One last home game in 2015 tomorrow and Montreal and Didier Drogba are in town for it.  With official elimination happening last week we've got 3 games to either play out the string or experiment.  What Pablo will do is the big mystery.  Game time tomorrow is 4pm so the tailgate starts at 1pm.  Baked potato bar and the annual chili cookoff tomorrow.  C38 wasn't expecting 83 degrees in mid-october!  For those  of you who can't make it Flaming and Crookham will have the call on Altitude ('Celo is in LA for USA-Mexico  think).  After the game fans can stay around for the season awards, then watch USA-Mexico on the big screen or in Eighteen76.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington (foot surgery, out for season)
QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg (abductor injury)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley; D Jared Watts; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Marc Burch; M Marcelo Sarvas; F Kevin Doyle

International Absences:
HONDURAS: D Maynor Figueroa
IRELAND: F Kevin Doyle
PANAMA: F Gabriel Torres
US U-23s: M Dillon Serna

Montreal has a bunch f players missing on international duty.  Given our situation with being eliminated I'm not going to guess at our starting XI for this one.  We'll have to see  if Pablo is going ot take the  next 3 games to experiment and play young guys or stick with what he's been doing.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  Montreal has something to play for and Drogba.  We have nothing to play for and are missing our only two decent strikers.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Rapids Lose Game, Win Cup!

We lost the game, we're officially out of the playoff hunt, and I don't care.  WE WON THE CUP!!!  Yeah it was ugly and yeah, a result would have been better but the Cup is back where it belongs.

From Friday:
2-1 loss. goal by Powers.  Rapids lose the game but win the Cup.  Powers makes up for his penalty kick shank in Sandy by scoring what turns out to be the Cup winning goal.  Colorado is also officially eliminated from the playoffs making the rest of the season absolutely meaningless.
Ok I had the goal-scorer wrong but other than that pretty dead on accurate.  After a great start the Rapids once again faded and allowed the opposition to come back.  Three pretty goals in this game but not much else from the good guys.

General Impressions:
  • Seriously, the Doyle goal was our only shot on target all game, just not good enough.
  • As we've seen far too often this year, the Rapids took their foot off the pedal after scoring.  They let FSL have control for the rest of the half and FSL made them pay.
  • I'm amazed Burling made it through that game.  A different ref could have shown him more than one red card.
  • The second half was a FSL team that would ahve been happy to take the Cup if we gave it to them (and we tried) but wasn't going to press for it and risk losing their 3 points.
  • Meanwhile the Rapids wanted the draw and didn't care much if it cost them the Cup.
  • Pittinari, ugh.  Let's not buy out his loan as he is not worth it.
  • Disappointed in the players after the game, especially guys like Moor and Irwin.  I know they were disappointed with losing and being eliminated from the playoffs but not taking any effort to acknowledge the fans or do a lap with the Cup is really not good enough.  Especially after it was something that was brought up multiple times in the town hall teleconference and Sam Cronin specifically said it was something he would work on both himself and with the other players as captain of the team.
  • The FSL fans broke the Cup during the game BTW.  Snapped one of the handles off of it (as you can see in my pic above).  So if you don't see it for a little while its because its getting fixed.
  • 270 minutes left before this season is finally, thankfully, over.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  For that late save that preserved the Cup, duh.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Only Meaningful Game Since July

Still better than these guys

Up a win and two goals all the Rapids have to do tomorrow is not lose by more than 1 to claim the Rocky Mountain Cup.  They have to win though to stave off elimination from the playoffs (and that only if either SJ doesn't win or KC-Portland ends in a draw tonight).  Still with the RMC in play this game at least means something, which is more than any other game since we last played FSL in July.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm on FOX Sports 1.  Tailgate starts at 2 and its our annual pig roast so get their early!

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington (season-ending foot surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg; F Dominique Badji; F Keven Doyle

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley (3 games for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari

International Abasences:
Ireland: F Kevin Doyle
Panama: F Gabriel Torres (may not leave until tomorrow)
U.S.A. U-23s: M Dillon Serna

FSL has one player our injured and one big player questionable, Javi Morales.  Morales is FSL's offense this season so it would be great for us if he's unable to play.  My guess at the XI: 

If either Doyle or Torres are available tomorrow they'll start over Solignac.  Of course this is Pablo and off the horrible defensive outing last week we could see Watts or Greenspan in the back line for no good reason.

Strategic Consideration: Do not, Do Not, DO NOT try to park the bus for 90 minutes and defend the 2 goal RMC lead.  I think our prior attempts have proven that's a bad idea.  Go out and attack, get at least one goal, and I think the RMC is ours as I can't see FSL scoring 3.

Prediction: 2-1 loss. goal by Powers.  Rapids lose the game but win the Cup.  Powers makes up for his penalty kick shank in Sandy by scoring what turns out to be the Cup winning goal.  Colorado is also officially eliminated from the playoffs making the rest of the season absolutely meaningless.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sanchez And The Scrubs

Round 2 of my new format, but somehow I'm finding last week hard to top.  Let's see what I can come up with.

3 minutes in Miranda scores

8' Sanchez scores
That's Sanchez when he was with Toluca

 24' Barnes scores

44' Sanchez scores again, originally credited as an own goal

2 minutes after half Davis scores

Well this game was easy to summarize

Close Sir Elton, more like Sanchez and the Scrubs!

Next week the Rocky Mountain Cup:

Man of the Match: Vicente Sanchez.  Easiest choice of the season.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rapids Can't Be Eliminated This Week


Win or lose the Rapids will technically still be alive after this weekend.  Of course realistically we've been eliminated since the end of May.  Colorado is back in Houston tomorrow night for their first  of their last five game.  Game time tomorrow is 6:30pm and Fleming and 'Celo will have the call on altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington; D Axel Sjoberg; F Dominique Badji; F Keven Doyle

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley (3 games for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari

Houston has 5 players injured and one suspended.  We're missing a couple of key players (Sjoberg and Doyle) which means this game probably isn't going to be much of an improvement on what we've seen recently.  My guess at the XI: 

But I'm probably being optimistic.

Strategic Consideration: Just try to be entertaining

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  I don't see a lot of scoring chances lately and even less with Doyle out.  So I expect to come away pretty disappointed from this one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Updated Player Salaries and National Team Callups

The final set of player salaries were released today:

Alvarez Carlos 70,000.00 70,000.00
Badji Dominique 50,000.00 50,000.00
Berner John 60,000.00 60,000.00
Burch Marc 110,000.00 110,000.00
Burling Bobby  132,500.00 140,000.00
Calvert Caleb 65,000.00 72,500.00
Cronin Sam  202,500.00 200,000.00
Doyle Kevin 1,125,000.00 1,170,000.00
Eloundou Charles 60,000.00 65,000.00
Figueroa Maynor 99,996.00 99,996.00
Greenspan Joseph 50,000.04 50,000.04
Hairston Marlon  80,000.00 103,000.00
Harrington M  130,000.00 130,000.00
Irwin Clint  85,000.00 97,000.00
LaBrocca Nick 160,000.00 180,000.00
MacMath Zac  130,000.00 130,000.00
Moor Drew 258,500.00 270,500.00
Pittinari Lucas  190,000.00 210,000.00
Powers Dillon  245,000.00 275,000.00
Ramirez Juan  75,000.00 75,000.00
Riley James  77,500.00 83,750.00
Sanchez Vicente 210,000.00 286,666.67
Sarvas Marcelo  360,000.00 425,000.00
Serna Dillon 60,000.00 73,000.00
Sjoberg Axel  60,000.00 75,000.00
Solignac Luis  65,004.00 65,004.00
St. Ledger Sean  124,992.00 147,492.00
Torres Gabriel 262,000.00 274,500.00
Watts Jared  60,000.00 60,000.00

The first number is the base salary, the second is the 2015 guaranteed compensation.  The salary cap number is usually somewhere in between.  The two new names are Figueroa at $100K, which is a steal, and St. Ledger at $147,500 which is no surprise since we picked up his OCSC contract.

Also in the last few days a number of Rapids have been called up for their National Teams

Dillon Serna will be part of the U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying squad.  He may not be available in Houston on Saturday I'm not sure, but after that he'll miss everything through at least the FSL game on October 4th and most  likely through the home finale on Oct 10th.  So likely the last time to see Serna at home this season is when the 3rd group game of the qualifying tournament is played at the Dick on Oct. 6th.

Kevin Doyle is on the provisional list of 40 players for Ireland's Euro qualifiers in October.  The team is scheduled to gather in Ireland on October 4th.  Hopefully if Doyle is on the final roaster he, Irish manager Martin O'Neill, and the Rapids can work something out where Doyle can stay through the critical Rocky Mountain Cup match on the 4th and them immediately fly to Ireland to join the team.  If called Doyle would then rejoin the team for the final two road games in KC and Portland.

Gabriel Torres has been called up for Panama's friendlies against Trinidad & Tobaga and Mexico next month.  Again we'll have to see when the team gets together but their first game is October 8th so once again hopefully he can stay through the rivalry match on the 4th.  He'll also rejoin the team for the final two matches of the season.