Friday, March 27, 2015

I Will Avoid The Obvious Houston Joke

Now don't lose your head Ned

But we do have a severe lack of offense.  Colorado heads to Houston tomorrow trying to break both its 420 minute scoreless streak and its 16 game winless streak.  The good news is that the Dynamo are seriously depleted due to injuries and national team callups.  The bad news is that due to the Avs and Nuggets playing at the same time there won't be any TV for this one until 11:30pm on Altitude.  1600 AM The Zone will have live radio coverage of the game though.  The blackout rules are still in effect on MLS Direct Kick and MLS Live so those aren't options if you're in Altitudes viewing area.  Kickoff, for those that can watch it live, is at 6:30pm.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Drew Moor (ACL); D Marlon Hairston (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg (foot); M Carlos Alvarez (ankle)

International Absences:
United States U-23: D Shane O'Neill

Houston has 8 players questionable or worse or on international duty, including former Rapid Nathan Sturgis.  Obviously losing our 3 best central defenders is not ideal and that's going to be the critical area of this match.  The fact that Jared Watts is likely to start does not fill me with confidence.  My guess at the XI:

There's talk that we might see Riley again and that Torres will move up top in place of Badji, but my guess is that Pablo minimizes the changes due to the shake up in central defense.  

Strategic Consideration: The back line.  We've been solid for two games but this is the weakest back line we'll see, especially if Riley comes back in place of Burch.  I doubt we get through this game unscathed.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Powers.  Yes, this is the 3rd game in a row I've predicted that scoreline but to be fair, the last two games were draws.  Both defenses are too week to expect shutouts but I'm not yet ready to predict a road win for this team.

Berner, Calvert, Eloundou Officially Loaned To Charlotte

The Rapids just announced that John Berner, Caleb Calvert, and Charles Eloundou have been officially loaned to Charlotte for the season.  Colorado does retain the right to recall them early if needed though.  This is just the official confirmation of something we've known for a few weeks but its good to know the details.  Now we need to know if that means their roster spots are freed up or not.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Torres No Longer A Designated Player

According to the Denver Post, who got confirmation from MLS, under the new roster rules that came out of the new MLS CBA Gabriel Torres is no longer a Designated Player.  Torres was not a DP due to his salary ($262K last season) but due to the combination of his salary and his transfer fee (which is split up evenly over the length of the contract).  Now with a higher cap and with a higher DP level that combination places him in non-DP territory.

What this means is that with Ramirez and Doyle the Rapids now have another DP slot open.  We'll have to see if they use it or not.  This also means that MLS is now covering all of Torres' costs, instead of the part the Rapids were picking up each season.  That might mean that the money designated to cover Torres costs is now open to be spent on a new DP, or it may have been used to help with Doyle or Ramirez.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bad Point From Good Play

Sorry everyone, my family concerns are continuing so my posts will be sporadic for the near future.  Again will dispense with the summary and move to the general feel of the game.  This was a much improved Rapids team compared to the Union game and while they dill can't find the net, at least it looks like they know what they want to do now.  The Rapids were the better team but some bad luck and poor shot choices prevented them from winning.  By all rights the Rapids should have 3 points and not 2 after these first couple of games.  We should have lost in Philly but won this weekend, instead we got 2 0-0 draws.

General impressions:
  • Great organization from the team defensively to greatly limit NYCFC's looks at goal.  I did not expect us to be able to stop their offense.  I mean, that is David Villa we're talking about!
  • 21 shots, 7 on target.  A big improvement from the 2/0 of the first game.  Far too many were hit right at the keeper though.  There were a couple of Cronin shots late that just missed as well.
  • The midfield was much improved in this one, despite the loss of Sarvas.  Though things got better when he came in.
  • No the sad stats.  420 minutes without a goal, 16 games without a win (tied for 3rd worst streak in MLS history).
  • Glad to see Ramirez play but he looked really raw and very confused.  I'm hopeful that more time with his teammates will help.
  • At this point Irwin is clearly the #1.  There should be no GK controversy.
  • We need to vary our strategy on corner kicks.  Sjoberg at the back post is a good strategy but it shouldn't be our only strategy.
  • We're going to miss O'Neill the next week or two as he joins the U-23 team.  He's a step above Burling or Watts.
  • Pittinari looked iffy early on but settled down.
  • Powers continued to prove why he should be starting, and why Palermo is rumored to be interested in him.
  • Great work from the tifo crew.  My second favorite tifo after last year's home opener.

Man of the Match: Axel Sjoberg.  Overall this was a good team effort where nobody really stood out but I've been impressed with Sjoberg's play for a rookie.  One stat tracking outfit had him with the most clearances in MLS this weekend.  Combined with Sarvas' good play and Klute's inability to get off the bench in Columbus I may have to eat my words about that draft day trade.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rapids Sign Ben Newnam From Charlotte

Based on his Instagram post today the Rapids signed defender Ben Newnam.  He signed with Charlotte this offseason but has been in Rapids camp from the beginning and apparently the Independence and Colorado worked something out to get him onto our roster.  With the signing we now have 27 players under contract (including Doyle) and 7 of our 8 international spots filled.  The new CBA reduced roster sizes from 30 to 28 but there's no word on how players at the USL affiliates (like Berner and Calvert) count.  So the Rapids have at least 1 spot free.

Updated roster:

(* = international):

John Berner
Clint Irwin
Zac MacMath

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Michael Harrington
Drew Moor
Ben Newnam
Shane O'Neill
James Riley
Axel Sjoberg*

Carlos Alvarez
Sam Cronin
Marlon Hairston
Nick LaBrocca
Lucas Pittinari*
Dillon Powers
Juan Ramirez*
Marcelo Sarvas
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Dominique Badji*
Caleb Calvert
Kevin Doyle*
Charles Eloundou* (not yet in camp, visa issues)
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres*

Friday, March 20, 2015

Home Opener Finally!

Home sweet home

With the bye it feels like the season didn't really start two weeks ago, but we're back and at home finally!  The new expansion side NYCFC, starring David Villa and Mix Diskerud, is in town and the Rapids will get their first look at them.  Game time tomorrow is 2pm on a sunny afternoon, so the tailgate starts at 11am.  Those of you who will miss it can watch on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Drew Moor (ACL); D Marlon Hairston (shoulder); M Charles Eloundou (fitness) 
QUESTIONABLE: M Juan Ramirez (hamstring); M Marcelo Sarvas (knee)

Discipline Report:
SUSPENDED: D Bobby Burling (red card vs. Philly; D JAmes Riley (DisCo suspension)

NYCFC is only missing George "Own Goal" John, who's not going to be available until the second half of the season due to knee surgery.  That's an ugly out list for the Rapids.  Guessing at the XI, especially the midfield, but what I think:

Maybe Torres goes up top and Powers slides in underneath him, but I doubt it.  If Ramirez can go he'd take Serna's spot..

Strategic Consideration: Denying NYCFC's attack the ball.  David Villa will kill this defense if he has a chance to run at them and Mix can put him into space.  Pressure has to start higha nd deny the ball in NYCFC's attacking third.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Torres.  And that feels generous.  I don't see a path to a win in this one but I can see a path to a loss.  If our defense steps up and limits the NYCFC chances then we can probably get a goal against their weak back line and get a draw.  If we give the new kids chances though it could get ugly fast.

Rapids Sign Kevin Doyle As 3rd DP

The Rapids just announced that they have signed Kevin Doyle as our 3rd DP.  I never thought we'd see 3 DPs at once this season and this is a quality third one to add to the mix.  It fills a huge hole we have at target striker and should be somebody Torres and Ramirez can play off of.

However there is a but.  He won't join until July 1st after he finishes the season with Wolves.  That will be 18 games into the season and may be too late for 2015, especially with Brown now gone.  We'll have to see if Badji, Eloundou, or Torres can step their game up and keep the Rapids in the race for the first half of the season.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rapids Sponsored By Transamerica

Well, didn't see that coming!  Colorado announced today that they have made a deal with Transamerica to be the jersey sponsor for the next two seasons.  Quite a turn around from the Ciao debacle of the offseason.  The sponsorship total was not announced but the team did work through Denver based Impression Sports & Entertainment which is a departure from how the team has pursued this in the past.  The deal is for two years but can be extended.  This is below the MLS threshold of 3 years that was announced but I'm thinking that getting out of the Ciao hole might have played into that.  1 year of Ciao + 2 years of Transamerica = 3 years.  The sponsorship will also include the youth teams, which is a nice touch.

The first reaction was that Transamerica was an odd choice.  A San Francisco based company sponsoring a Denver team, especially with the Earthquakes needing a sponsor?  It turns out that Transamerica has 350 employees in the Tech Center and is in the process of taking over a chunk of the CenturyLink building downtown, with plans to hire up to another 300 employees in Denver.  So not that unusual in that light.

As far as what this will do for the team on the field its hard to tell.  Hinchey had this to say in the Post:
Hinchey said the Rapids had already planned the 2015 budget — including adding new designated players — prior to the deal.
The new infusion of cash, he said, could help bring the club somewhere it's never been before: breaking even or possibly turning a profit.
Its hard to interpret that quote.  does that mean they already planned to spend money and this will just help, or does that mean that none of the money will go into the team in 2015 but it may make the team profitable?  We'll have to see what kind of moves the Rapids make in the near future.

Overall this is a big win by the Rapids.  Great move by Hinchey and the Front Office to sign well known and well respected company as the sponsor.  We won't see any Ciao funny business with Transamerica.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Can Brown Do For Valerenga?

The Rapids made it official today and transferred Deshorn Brown to Norway's Valerenga.  A Norwegian paper says that the transfer fee was $4 million, presumably Norwegian Krone, which would convert to just under $500,000.

Overall this is the move the Rapids should have made.  An offer in hand is hard to turn down, though anything lower and the decision would have been questionable.  That doesn't mean we've improved though.  As I put it in my season preview:
Forward: Um, yeah, nothing much happened here.  We signed Badji!  Otherwise we're apparently hoping that what we have can get us enough goals until a move can be made.  At this point I think the assumption is that Kevin Doyle will be joining the team but the question is when.  If we have to wait for the July transfer window then Brown, Torres, and Badji are going to have to figure out how to score without a holding forward.  If somehow we can get Doyle before the end of Wolves season then we can probably muddle through for a few games until he gets here.  If we don't make any move at all we're in trouble.
This was not the move I had in mind.  Our already thin options are now transparent.  Badji doesn't look like the answer so that leaves Torres moving to the top of the formation and Powers moving back to center mid.  Really what needs to happen sooner rather than later is bringing in a new MLS-caliber and ready to play yesterday striker.  Its a bit frustrating that we don't have that player yet.  This transfer didn't come out of nowhere.  A deal like this takes some time and the Rapids must have had some idea this was possible during preseason.  I'm inclined to think that's why Badji got so much time with the first team at the expense of Brown.  Based on that, why didn't we get a replacement lined up in preseason?

In the end we're going to struggle until either Torres finds his 2013 Gold Cup form or we make a move.  The sooner one of those happens the better.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Brown To Norway?

It appears that Deshorn Brown is on the cusp of moving to Valerenga in Oslo, a team in Norway's top division.  A report three days ago from a Norwegian paper said that their managing director had traveled to Colorado to work on a deal.  This morning the Denver Post confirmed he was seen at training on Wednesday along side Paul Bravo, presumably to watch Brown.

If we're at the point where representatives of the team have officially traveled to Colorado and are talking to the team and Deshorn, its pretty much a done deal.  Negotiations may take another few days but I'd be surprised if it falls through at this point.  The Norwegian league starts in 3 weeks and according to the article from the Norwegian paper they would want to get Brown before the season starts.

From the Rapids point of view, if the money's good enough they should be making the deal.  This is how the Rapids will compete in MLS.  Finding good young talent, developing them, and selling them, then using that money for the occasional big purchase like a Ramirez or a Doyle.  Plus with Torres and possibly Doyle, not to mention the amount of time Badji's gotten, its going to be hard to find playing time for Brown.

The big issue is what to do between possibly selling Brown and hopefully signing Doyle (or another striker).  Based on last week's game Badji didn't look like he was ready to be the man up top in a 4-5-1.  The best option seems to be to push Torres forward and have Powers take the central midfield spot but that wasn't real successful last year.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Schedule Changes and Roster Movement

Over the last two days the Rapids have announced 3 schedule changes:

  • The Sun. July 12th home game against FSL has been moved to Sat. July 11th at 7pm
  • The Sat. October 3rd home game against FSL has been moved to Sun. October 4th at 5pm
What happened is that with the Gold Cup schedule being announced on Thursday the planned FOX Sports 2 coverage of our Rocky Mountain Cup match on July 12th conflicted with FOX's Gold Cup coverage.  So FOX gave the July game back to Altitude and the Rapids moved it to the better attended Saturday night.  In exchange FOX took the October Rocky Mountain Cup game and moved it to their Sunday night national TV slot.

The other change is the Red Bull New York road game on Sat. July 25th.  It has been moved to Wed. April 29th so the Red Bulls can use that Saturday in July for a friendly.  This is a lousy move for the Rapids as it will now have them play Dallas at home on the 25th, fly to NY for the game on the 29th, then turn around and fly to LA for a game 3 days later on May 2nd.  Meanwhile both the Red Bulls and Rapids have a bye this weekend.  Had somebody at MLS or Red Bull been paying attention when the schedule came out months ago they could have rescheduled the game to this weekend and allowed both teams to play on regular rest.  Yes it would have risked an early season weather delay but is that really worse than 3 games in 8 days on both coasts?

Also some roster news.  Reports are that Eloundou is in Charlotte going through preseason training with the Independence.  However it sounds like this is just a temporary thing while he works on his fitness and he's expected to rejoin the Rapids in a couple of weeks.  He missed almost all of preseason due to his visa issue so this is probably a way to get him back into playing shape with other players going through the same thing.

It does sound like that both John Berner and Caleb Calvert will be joining the Independence on a longer-term basis though as part of our partnership with them.  This will be a good chance for both younger players to get some competitive playing time.  If they stayed in Colorado neither of them would be likely to see the field.

The last piece of news today is that Joseph Greenspan is back with the Rapids during the Naval Academy's spring break.  The team is still working with the Navy to maximize Greenspan's time with the team this season but obviously his responsibilities to the Navy will come first.  When announcing this the Rapids also mentioned journeyman Jeff Parke is trialing with the team.  He's a defender that is probably being looked at to help fill out our thin backline, especially with the suspensions we picked up.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Good Point From Bad Play

Sorry for going quiet, a family emergency called me out of town.  I'll dispense with the game recap as at this point I assume everyone has seen the game or at least the "highlights".  Getting a point on the road in the season opener is a good result, but this was a poorly played game that the Rapids were lucky to get the point they got.

  • The Rapids set a new team record low with only 2 shots all game
  • They tied a league record (with 7 other games) with 0 shots on goal
  • They had more fouls than in any game last season
Looking at those stats they accurately reflect the game.  Colorado had no real offensive plan other than hoof it forward and hope Badji, and later Brown, could do something with it (they largely couldn't) while playing tough defense and denying the Union good looks at goal (which they did until late).  It worked but its not a game plan that's going to get us very far over the course of the season.

General impressions:

  • Very disappointed that Juan Ramirez didn't make the 18.  Word is he's nursing a hamstring injury so probably good they didn't risk him but lets hope it heals quickly and he's ready for NYCFC in 9 days.
  • Brown and Powers were also both nursing knocks which is why they came off the bench.
  • Sarvas looked like the "difference-maker" we were looking for, maybe the only new player that looked that good.
  • Sanchez had a surprisingly poor game.  Everyone's allowed an off game from time to time so hopefully we see the better Sanchez next week.
  • Both of Burling's yellow cards were good calls and just poor play.  On the first Sapong pushed the ball towards the endline.  Burling has stuck his leg in front of Sapong and CJ goes over it (he didn't fight much)  Unnecessary foul but it happens.  But to add to it Burling gives Sapong a shove in the back as he topples over.  Easy yellow for a push that gained nothing and din't need to happen.
  • On the second Burling gets beat by the Philly forward in the center circle and yanks back on his shoulder.  A good yellow foul if he's beat and nobody is there to easily cover, a red if he's the last man.  In this case all three other defenders were behind Burling to cover, completely unnecessary for a first, horrible for a second yellow.
  • Forget high balls in the box when Sjoberg is playing.  He'll beat everyone to them.  He needs to watch the elbows though.  Partially because he swings them too much but also partially because he starts off so much higher than most players his elbows are more likely to impact heads.
  • Harrington was solid and quiet, all you want out of a defender.  Good game from him.
  • Riley was not.  A stupid kick in the back late in the game was ignored by Peterscu (typical of his style of officiating) but not by the DisCo toda,y who suspended him for a game.
  • The DisCo also fined Burling for taking too long to leave the field after the red and warned the team about mass confrontation.  All fair actions.  Looks like #RapidsThugLife is back and that's not a good thing.  Colorado was far too physical in this game and that's not the style I thought we were looking for.
Pablo's quote after the game has me shaking my head:
I’d be hard pressed not to give it a 10. I say that because we were a man down for 20 minutes in these conditions. It is easy to lay down. There are so many things you could make excuses about. And the players did not. They made a statement. It is not the result but the mentality that they leave behind and will carry with them going into the next game.
Really?  A 10 out of 10 with no shots on goal, 2 total shots, 1 given red card and lucky not to get a second (which the Disco made up for), another 3 yellow cards, and a general look like there was no real plan?  If that's a 10 then I'd hate to see a 5, or a 1!

Small sample size warning and all but looking at the other opening matches this team has a lot of work to do to even be competitive in this league, much less challenge for a playoff spot.

Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Stood strong in net, including one point-blank save from Casey (and who didn't see that coming) to get his first shutout and apparently win the starting job.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Late Roster Changes

The Rapids made 2 roster moves yesterday, signing RB James Riley and releasing, surprisingly, John Neeskens.  They also released VDC from camp without giving him a contract offer.  That leaves us at 26 signed players going into the season .

Friday, March 6, 2015

Season Kickoff!!!! Rapids At Union

PPL Park yesterday

The 2015 season is here!  Well not here, its not here for another two weeks but its in Philly tomorrow.  The season starts at 2pm MST and the weather won't be as bad as above, though still cold.  'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.  C38 will be having their season kickoff party at the Celtic starting at noon.

Ugly facts for this game:
  • The last time the Rapids won a game was July 25th.
  • The last time the Rapids won a game over an existing MLS team was June 28th.
  • The last time the Rapids won a road game was April 12th.
  • The last time the Rapids won a road game on this side of the 49th parallel was September 7th 2013. No that's not a typo.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Drew Moor (ACL); M Charles Eloundou (fitness)
UNAVAILABLE: GK Zac MacMath (loanees can't play against owning team)

Philly is missing goalkeeper Andre Blake but are otherwise healthy.  Reports are that Shane O'Neill is still fighting a stomach bug and may not be fit enough to start.  Also Clint Irwin spent a lot of time this week working on the CBA as one of the team's player reps and may not have had enough practice time to start.  Brown and Powers are also struggling with fitness.  My guess on our first starting XI of the 2015 season: 

I'm assuming that with a bye week next week we'll give all the questionable players the full two weeks to get to full fitness.  That leaves us with somewhat of a mess of a lineup and only 4 players from the 2014 team starting.

Strategic Consideration: You see that lineup?  That's a lot of new blood to integrate.  Are these guys ready to play together as a team?

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Torres.  The patchwork back line with Berner between the sticks won't be able to get a shutout but our dangerous midfield will be able to set up our DPs to combine for the first goal of the season.  The winless streak stretches to 15 but a point on the road is nothing to sneeze at.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Colorado Adds Yellow To Its History Of Jersey Colors

To Green/White, Green/Black, Green, White, Blue/Black, Burgundy, Light Blue, and Blue you can now add Yellow.  The Rapids new alternate/secondary/road kit was unveiled tonight and its quite...bright.  The blue accents and the pairing with the blue shorts prevents it from looking like a FSL kit, which makes it much better than the flag kit from the last two years, but it just doesn't scream Rapids to me.  It screams Sweden actually.  Any chance it helps us land Zlatan?  :D  It would look better with the regular badge and not the red/blue badge that has looked awful for 3 seasons now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2015 Season Preview

Well the big news in the last couple hours is that the owners and the players have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the season will start as planned.  For the Rapdis that means 2pm MST in Philly on Saturday.

Also today the Rapids announced they had signed their final draft pick, striker Dominque Badji, to a contract.  No surprise with the amount of play he's gotten this preseason.  That leaves Colorado with 26 signed players and 7 of 8 international spots filled.  We'll have to see what the roster rules are with the new CBA to know if the Rapids have room to make any more moves.

Along those lines the Post's Daniel Boniface was at training and had a few updates.  Charles Eloundou is now in camp so his visa issues have apparently been settled.  Trialists James Riley and Ben Newnam while trialists Benji Joya, Oscar Montoya, and Francisco Flores have not been seen in a couple of days.  Wes Knight was officially released Saturday and VDC and Neeskens were not present (Neeskens is under contract, VDC isn't).

So with all that I've updated my camp roster, it will be at the bottom of the preview.

The Rapids certainly attempted to improve this offseason, though I don't think they've done enough yet.

Goalkeeper: Clint Irwin is back and should be the #1.  Sounds like that he's missed some time this week as a player rep in the CBA talks and MacMath is ineligible to play against his home team so Berner could get the start on Saturday.  Based on preseason I think Irwin will be the nominal #1 but I expect he and MacMath to both get starts.  That's bad, but it seems to be Pablo's way.  If the two of them can settle into friendly competition as a way of staying at the top of their game that might work.  If one or the other feels like they're being disrespected we could see a repeat of the second half of 2014.  The silver lining is that I would think Irwin would see MacMath as more worthy of taking starts from him than Nasco and Berner were last season.

Defense: This seems like a mismash of talent that if we can find the right combo with we'll be in good shape, but it might take a while still to figure that out.  I think O'Neill and Harrington will start almost every game they're available for, but the other two positions are murky.  The big question mark is will Moor return to his old level after the injury?  If so that gives us 3 solid positions.  If he doesn't he'll still start for a while but I'm not sure how confident I am in any of the other CBs to play in his place.  Burling has experience, Sjober has the physical stature, and Watts is Watts.

As far as right back this is what I wrote last year:
Right back seems particularly questionable.  O'Neill might be good.  Wynne might be able to move back there.  Bursch might be able to fill in.  There doesn't seem to be a great fit on the roster though.  We can duct-tape our way through another season but we should really look at finding a true right back.
Substitute Riley (if signed) for Wynne and I could use the same statement about this year's team.  One of the areas we failed to address this offseason.

Midfield: The Rapids made their biggest strides this offseason in the middle of the aprk.  Sarvas, Pittinari, and Ramirez all look like solid starters already.  Mix in Powers, Sanchez, Serna and Torres and we've got a MLS-quality midfield with at least a couple of backups.  This should be the strength of the team this season and the key will be figuring out the best 5 (assuming we use the 4-2-3-1 formation we've been seeing in preseason) on a given night.

Forward: Um, yeah, nothing much happened here.  We signed Badji!  Otherwise we're apparently hoping that what we have can get us enough goals until a move can be made.  At this point I think the assumption is that Kevin Doyle will be joining the team but the question is when.  If we have to wait for the July transfer window then Brown, Torres, and Badji are going to have to figure out how to score without a holding forward.  If somehow we can get Doyle before the end of Wolves season then we can probably muddle through for a few games until he gets here.  If we don't make any move at all we're in trouble.

Bench: The quality depth is paper thin in defense and forward.  We saw that in Arizona when anyone but the expected starting group got on the field.  Its not pretty.  Even after the top 7 midfielders things take a nose dive.  The only place where we're absolutely set is goalkeeper.  Lets hope players stay healthy and out of trouble.

Coaching:  I don't see much improvement here.  As far as I can tell Pablo's planned trip to Arsenal to work with Wenger never happened.  Instead he went to 'Boro for a week and spent time with former Rapid and current Boro manager Aitor Karnaka.  No knock on Aitor but that's not exactly the same thing.  No experienced assistant coaches were brought in to help, instead two more of the 2010 midfield were added as rookie coaches, Claudio Lopez and Brian Mullan.  I think its great that so many ex-players are now involved in the club (Jamie Smith from that midfield is working with the Academy) but it was clear last season that Pablo needed some experienced advice to level out some rookie mistakes.  Hopefully he got enough experience on his own I guess.

Overall I think we improved, but the rest of the West improved more on average.

So here are my predictions for the season, last year I got just over half of my predictions correct:

  • We're not really a playoff threat this season but we improve from last year's disaster.
  • The winless streak reaches 17 games before being broken on Jameson Night
  • Pablo makes it through 2015 as coach and is not immediately fired after the season
  • We do win back the Rocky Mountain Cup in an upset, its a large part of why Pablo keeps his job
  • We host a USOC game but we still go losing a game we were favored in
  • Doyle joins in July and proves to be a great, but too late, signing
  • Torres wins the team Golden Boot
  • Irwin or MacMath leaves at the end of the year if not before
  • Ramirez turns out to be worth the young DP slot, but Pittinari returns to Argentina after his loan
  • We go most of the season without a jersey sponsor, again

Updated camp roster:

(* = international):

John Berner
Clint Irwin
Zac MacMath

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Michael Harrington
Drew Moor
John Neeskens
Shane O'Neill
Axel Sjoberg*

Carlos Alvarez
Sam Cronin
Marlon Hairston
Nick LaBrocca
Lucas Pittinari*
Dillon Powers
Juan Ramirez*
Marcelo Sarvas
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Dominique Badji*
Deshorn Brown*
Caleb Calvert
Charles Eloundou* (not yet in camp, visa issues)
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres*

Unsigned but still around:
D Joseph Greenspan (draftee, on Naval duty through 2017 probably, was in Vegas)
D Ben Newnam (trialist)
D James Riley
D Grant Van de Casteele
F Kevin Doyle* (negotiating)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rapids Lose Finale To FSL Despite Man Advantage

The Rapids starting XI for last night's Desert Diamond Cup finale:

Riley - Burling - Sjoberg - Harrington
Sarvas - Pittinari
Sanchez - Torres - Serna

Interesting that Badji and Riley got one more shot with a mostly first team in support around them.  The Rapids would only make one change, replacing Serna with Alvarez in the 78th minute.  It only took 8 minutes for FSL to find the hole in defense and put themselves in the lead.  Garcia was left unmarked on the far post (Riley seemed to be the closest Rapid) and Gil found him on the cross for the early lead.

Then the game intensity was turned up a few notches as a couple of long-time FSL players (Saborio, Beckerman) decided to remind everyone that these two teams plain don't like each other (TM Keith Jackson).  A couple of quick yellows from both of them.  Credit to the Rapids ass they fought their way back in the 28th minute.  Rimando spilled a Sanchez shot and Serna was there to clean up the rebound.  Saborio was lucky not to see a second yellow after taking out Irwin just before half and we hit the break 1-1.

It didn't take long after the half for FSL to regain the lead.  An unnecessary free kick was given up in the 50th minute.  In the aftermath of the foul Saborio got tangled up with Harrington and picked up that second yellow, leaving FSL a man down.  However Morales finished directly from the free kick to give FSL the 2-1 lead before the Rapids could touch the ball with a man advantage.

Sadly, after that point, Colorado seemed to have no plan and no answers to break down the FSL defense.  It felt very similar to 2014.  Its a good indicator that we didn't do enough to help our strikers which isn't a surprise since at this point we've done exactly nothing to bolster our strike corps.  Badji looks like he's going to get a contract, either in Colorado or Charlotte, and Doyle sounds like he'll be coming eventually, but until then its probably going to be Brown or Torres up top and that doesn't look like its going to be good enough.  The game ended 2-1 with FSL standing on the ball as much as possible.

And with that the preseason is over.  Next stop is Philly for the season opener at 2pm on Saturday.  That assumes that the players union and the owners agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) this week or come to some understanding to start the season while negotiations continue.  I expect that to happen though, which seems to put me in the minority of fans.

Between now and next Saturday I'll have a season preview and some season predictions.  Also on Thursday night we'll have the reveal of the new road/alternate jersey.  My real job has a release on Thursday so that may prevent me from going in person but I'm sure we'll have images and press releases to discuss by later that evening.  Then my first game preview on Friday night.

For those that don't know Centennial 38 will be hosting its season kickoff party at the Celtic Tavern in LoDo on Saturday.  Party starts at noon and there will be drink specials, a silent auction of Rapids merchandise. door prizes, and a FIFA tournament.  In prior years we've also had special guests (last year it was Pablo signing his contract) but with the team actually playing in Philly I doubt anyone will be available. ;)  That will all wrap up by 2 for the season kickoff.