Friday, April 22, 2016

Rapids Face Sounders Without Ex-Sounder

Flipping the coin at the 5-1 win in 2013

I'd be happy to have another result like that one tomorrow night.  Without ex-Sounder Marco Pappa though, that might be asking a lot.  Of course Seattle is beat up as well, so it could be an interesting game.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  Marlon Hairston will be recording an interview segment for the C38 podcast around 5:30 though he won't be signing autographs.  Those of you who can't be there can see it on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Marlon Hairston (hamstring); D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Marco Pappa (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring); D Jared Watts (knee); M Dillon Powers (hamstring); F Kevin Doyle (shin)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

Seattle has 5 players questionable or worse including Dempsey and Valdez.  Who can actually go tomorrow night is going to go a long way in deciding this one.

Starting XI Prediction:

This assumes that anyone on the injury report isn't ready to start.  If healthy I could see Sjoberg pushing Miller outside and Burch to the bench and I could see Doyle starting for Solignac.  I'd rather see Serna starting over Badji but Pablo seems fond of him.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Solignac.  The injuries on both sides will make this game choppy.  I think both sides will struggle to dominate the game and that will lead to a draw.  Jones springs Solignac for ours.

Just a note.  I've got some stuff going on for the next week or two so posts might be shorter and/or infrequent for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Castillo To Be Signed, Finally

According to the Denver Post the Rapids will finally be signing draftee Dennis Castillo.  It sounds like we're just waiting on paperwork from his old club in Costa Rica and that's been the reason for the long delay.

Castillo is a center back/right back out of VCU, drafted in the second round.  He will use the Rapids final international spot.  With this signing we'll have 26 of a possible 28 players under contract plus Tim Howard arriving in July.  That does not include Juan Ramirez on loan in Spain or Joseph Greenspan serving in the Navy.  So we have one roster spot left if we need to sign somebody but they would have to not need an international spot.  Here's our full roster with details.

GK John Berner - On loan to Charlotte
GK Chris Froschauer
(GK Tim Howard - DP) - Coming in July
GK Zac MacMath
D March Burch
D Bobby Burling
D Dennis Castillo - International
D Marlon Hairston
D Eric Miller
D Axel Sjoberg - Inernational
D Sean St. Ledger - International
D Mekeil Williams - International
M Emmanuel Appiah - On loan to Charlotte
M Michael Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Jermaine Jones
M Marco Pappa
M Zach Pfeffer
M Dillon Powers
M Dillon Serna
M Jared Watts
F Dominque Badji - International
F Caleb Calvert - On loan to Charlotte
F Conor Doyle
F Kevin Doyle - International - DP
Shkëlzen Gashi - International - DP
F Luis Solignac - International

Monday, April 18, 2016

Welcome To Colorado Jermaine!

From my preview on Friday:
1-0 win, goal by Jones.  NY is also on short rest and playing at altitude and in weather.  They haven't had much of an offense lately and our defense is pretty stout.  This sets up for Jermaine Jones to make a big impact in his first game.
So it was actually a goal and an assist from Jones and we won 2-1.  Missed it by that much.

General Impressions:
  • As much fun as that game was, it probably shouldn't have been played.  Much like Snow Clasico I the conditions in the second half weren't soccer, they were survival.
  • While the result and experience were fun, the wet nature of the snow wasn't.  Took me hours to get warm once I got home.
  • Big thanks to the Rapids for the free hot chocolate (and coffee for those who preferred that).  Many sports teams would have taken full advantage of the conditions to make money, not rewarded their fans for showing up (and they also allowed anyone who couldn't make it to trade in their ticket for another game). 
  • Also kudos to Kevin Doyle for coming out in the conditions to the tailgate as previously arranged.  I don't think anyone would have blamed him if he had rescheduled, though if reports are accurate this might be the last game he's not playing in for a while.
  • As far as the game goes there's not much you can critique on an individual level.  Everyone was just trying to deal with the conditions and its not fair to judge them on that performance.
  • We can point out good things though, like Mikeil Williams' assist on the first goal.  After a nice setup pass from Pappa he sent a great ball across the box for JJ to run onto.
  • Maybe my only negative comment about the game is Jones' aggressive tackle right before his assist.  There's a hint if an intentional foot to the NY player's leg in the aerial challenge.  not enough to actually state he was trying to spike him but it would be good to remove that doubt by not kicking out like that.
  • The Rapids were unlucky not to have more than 2.  Badji almost scored a carbon copy of his goal late and Pappa's early second half shot would have beat most keepers.
  • One piece of negative news, Pappa's injury that took him out of the game turned out to be a MCL sprain that will keep him out 2-3 weeks.  So the decision of who sits for Jones is solved for a couple of games.
  • My preseason predictions included me stating that we would fail to get 12 points in our first 9 games leading to Pablo being fired.  We now have 13 points in our first 7 games.  Oops.  Barring the bottom falling out on this team Pablo's job is safe for the season.
  • The Rapids are 3rd in the league on total points, 4th on points per game.  I don't think anyone had the seasons starting that well.
  • The Bodmer Line sits at 1.26 points per game the rest of the way.  For those that missed the Bodmer Line last season, its the average pts/game needed the rest of the season to hit 47 points which is the average point total for the 6th placed team (last team to make the playoffs) since the league went to 34 games in 2011.  Named after Centennial 38 Grand Poobah Mark Bodmer, who came up with the metric about the same time I did and deserves some credit for it.  For reference we're at 1.86 pts/game so far this season.
Man of the Match: Jermaine Jones.  Probably the most dominant performance by a Rapid this season.  Pablo played him in a free role and let him do what was needed and it worked.  He owned the field Saturday night, lead the team, and immediately showed what kind of impact he'll make this season.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Snow Clasico 2: Electric Boogaloo

Sno fro!

The Rapids are scheduled to play RBNY tomorrow.  I say scheduled because the Winter Storm Warning that's on for the Denver area has everyone watching the Rapids social media accounts to see if this one is rescheduled.  The last time this happened, the opener in March of 2013, it wasn't until 9:30 Saturday morning that the game was rescheduled.  Looking back at that weather report there's a lot of similarities about the storms though there seems to be more question marks around this one than 2013. 

Why aren't the Rapids taking any excuse to delay this game? We've already played 2 games this week. We've got a short bench. If we get this delayed until later in the season we'd have Howard. Why wouldn't we use the snowstorm as an excuse? KC pulled it on us last year under similar player availability conditions (though it backfired on them).

If the game is changed I will post the info here ASAP.  Game time tomorrow if there is no change is 7pm and C38 will have some sort of tailgate.  For those who don't want to go out in the snowstorm (which may include me) the game will be on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Marlon Hairston (hamstring); D Sean St. Ledger (knee injury); D Jared Watts (knee); F Kevin Doyle (shin)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

KC has three players out and one probable.  For the Rapids its looking better.  Williams is back and Jones is now eligible.  Still come off of a midweek game we may see some shuffling.

Starting XI Prediction:

There's some talk that Jones could play CB, presumably if Sjoberg can't go, but I'd be surprised to see him there.  I think Pablo goes with the hot hand and plays Solignac up top again.  Both Powers and Sjoberg traveled to KC so I think their missing of the game was a way to rest them for this game.  We could see Serna possibly as well.

Prediction: Game rescheduled for later in the season

If the game is played this weekend: 1-0 win, goal by Jones.  NY is also on short rest and playing at altitude and in weather.  They haven't had much of an offense lately and our defense is pretty stout.  This sets up for Jermaine Jones to make a big impact in his first game.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

No, They're Not Going To See This Coming

Hat-tip to Malcolm Reynolds/Joss Whedon for the title of this one.  I'm not sure anyone saw that result coming.  Going into KC with a 4 man bench (4!) and a makeshift backline the Rapids get their first multi-goal output of the season en route to their first road win of 2016.

General Impressions:
  • That was an ugly 18, well 15, we suited up for the game.  An indictment of our roster construction.  Leaving 2 roster spots open and missing half a bench, having to play a LB at CB, having to play a RW an RB, so much for having our whole roster at the start of training camp.
  •  That said, we weren't afraid to take the game to them early.  Nobody looked good in the first half but it was the Rapids who were more aggressive.
  • neither team got a shot on goal until into the last 5 minutes of the first half where Solignac got one, then got a goal, then Gashi got one.  KC had to wait for the second half to get their first.
  • Pappa did all the work to set Solignac up on the goal.  That makes it 3 assists and a goal for Pappa on the first 4 Rapids goals of the season.  Obviously the early leader for team MVP.
  • That shouldn't take anything away from a good strike from Solignac though.  2 goals in 2 games!
  • The second half decision to park the bus was not a good one.  It might have been necessary due to our tired legs but its another example of how we can't defend a one goal lead for long periods of time (nor can most MLS squads).
  • Burling, play to the whistle, not to when you think the whistle should blow.
  • Also, don't leave Dom Dwyer completely unmarked in the box!
  • About two minutes before the sub was made I suggested putting Williams in and pushing Serna forward to a friend I was watching the game with.
  • Serna struggled on defense, no surprise since he's never really played RB and is left-footed.  He looked great in midfield though.  He did more in those ~20 minutes than Badji did all night.
  • And of course he took another one of his killer long bombs.  The shot itself nearly went in and the rebound fell right to Gashi.
  • Who hit a beautiful strike.  Many (most?) MLS players wouldn't have gotten that on target or put it close enough to the keeper to make a save.  A great way for our DP to finally open his account.
  • Also the first goal all season Pappa didn't have a hand in.
  • MacMath has the yips.  I don't trust him in goal.  Sadly I don't trust Froschauer either as a untested rookie.  Its going to be a long 10 games before Howard gets here.
  • 10 points from the 6 games Jones was under suspension.  That's a great start and honestly unexpected.  Looking at the schedule to start the season I would have been happy to have 5-6 points.
Man of the Match: Shkelzen Gashi.  Really an easy choice.  He saves one off the line on one end, scores a great goal on the other.  He essentially turned a 2-1  loss into a 2-1 win.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rapids Face Wiz In 20th Anniversary Match

Opening graphic on the broadcast 20 years ago tomorrow night

20 years ago tomorrow this wild ride we call the Rapids got started with a game in KC against the then Kansas City Wiz.  The Wiz would become the Wizards and then Sporting KC while the Rapids would stay the Rapids but go from green and white to black and blue and then burgundy and light blue.  I can't claim to have watched that opening match as I didn't start following MLS until two years later but those of you who want to see it, its now uploaded on the Sporting KC webpage.  Game time tomorrow night is 6:30pm on Altitude 2.  Break out your green jerseys and celebrate 20 years!

Player Availability:
OUT: D Marlon Hairston (hamstring); D Sean St. Ledger (knee injury); D Jared Watts (knee); F Kevin Doyle (shin)
SUSPENDED: M Jermaine Jones
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty); D Mekeil Williams (visa issues)

KC has four players out and 3 questionable.  For the Rapids its just what we expected.  At least this is the last time we'll have to see Jones name on that list for his playoff suspension.  There's a chance Williams could show up in KC but last report is that he was still waiting on the Trinidadian government's paperwork.

Starting XI Prediction:

Due to our thin roster there's really no choice for the back 5.  For the other 6 I expect Pablo to stick with the same group and just run them into the ground if he has to.  With really only four options, all midfielders (Badji, C.Doyle, Pfeffer, Serna), and the midfield being our strongest group there's not a whole lot of changes Pablo can make right now.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  Short rest, a team that has no offense, and a decent KC team.  I just don't see a result here.  Our defense is fairly stout so I don't think they're going to hammer us but I do expect a scoreless loss.

MacMath Loses Mind, Rapids Lose Point

Much of what I wanted to say about the game was covered in Sunday's post but here's the official wrap-up.  The Rapids played FSLl fairly equally, got some really bad luck from MacMath's decision making, some good luck from a missed offside, and lost 1-0.  Its hard to say its an unfair result but you'd like to see the score earned, not be created due to lucky non-calls and poor decision making.

General Impressions:
  • Let's get to the ugliness first.  I have no idea what Zac MacMath's thought process was on the goal.  He's got Plata coming in with both Sjoberg and Burch closing him down.  From that he decides he needs to race out beyond the box to make a play.  There's nothing good in that.  As we saw he took away the ability for his defenders to use him as an outlet and by being outside the box he couldn't even make a desperate save without risking a red card for intentional handling.
  • Yes, Sjoberg's volley was ill-advised.  But he goes into that thinking he's got a GK back there for the desperate move.  It also seems that just before he hits it he senses that MacMath is coming out and I don't know if that caused him to try to change how he hit it causing the poor volley.
  • Movsisyan's goal was onside, or was as much off as Solignac's last week.   It should have counted.
  • The game changed with about 30 minutes to go when FSL subbed in Morales.  No surprise given that he's the all-time leader in assists in Rocky Mountain Cup history.  Prior to that point the Rapids defense was handling the FSL attack and were making some dangerous chances in the attack.  After Morales came in the balance shifted to FSL.
  • That would have been a good time to make a sub or tactical adjustments but...Pablo.
  • The first half the Rapids actually had some good play and were a bit unlucky not to score.  Gashi had a good shot on an empty net cleared off the line by a great header by Maund.  We also had a couple of breakaways hat against a different goalie (not Rimando) we probably would have finished.
  • So to win the Rocky Mountain Cup now we need two wins or a win and a draw.  Since we kept it to 1 goal the total goals tiebreaker won't work against us this season.  Worst case we get a draw and a 1 goal win leaving the teams tied in points and goals which meanss the current holders, which would be us, keep the the Cup. 
Man of the Match: Michael Azira.  This is more an award for his body of work this season than for any one thing he did well this game.  He's been the biggest good surprise so far this year and has really put a question mark in people's minds about who should be benched when Jones becomes available next Saturday.  When the seasons tarted I think everyone assumed it would be him but now you could make the case that he should sit in next to Jones/Powers and send Cronin to the bench.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Wheels Are About To Come Off

(Those of you who think I'm too pessimistic may just want to skip this one)

Full game recap coming tomorrow as normal but after last night I think this team is in a world of hurt and its largely due to Pablo's coaching and front office mismanagement (and to be fair, some bad luck with injuries).

Five games  into the season means we've had a chance to use 15 subs.  Pablo has used 9.  Its not hard to watch the Rapids and see some gassed players at the end of the game (like Pappa and Gashi last night).  Yet players like Serna and Conor Doyle stay on the bench.

That's bad enough in a normal week.  Its a long season and there's no reason so average less than 2 subs a game just to get players rest if for no other reason.  Its a horrendous decision though going into a week like this one.  We play in Kansas City on Wednesday and host RBNY Saturday night.

Looking at our roster we have one player (Jones) suspended for KC and 2-3 out for both games (St. Ledger, Doyle, probably Berner).  We have two others injured enough to not even make the bench for FSL (Hairston, Watts) so the best we can expect is their availability off the bench at some point this week.  Finally we have Williams who's stuck in visa limbo but hopefully will be in KC after not training with the team in over 3 weeks.  We also have two players (Appiah, Calvert) on loan in Charlotte.

So that's best case 7 players and worst case 9 unavailable for this whole week.  On a 28 man roster that's a big hit.  On a 25 man roster, which is what the Rapids have right now, its disastrous.  That's why the last two games Colorado has only had 5 of a possible 7 players on their bench.

There's really no excuse for this as the league allows a 28 man roster.  We're saving one spot for Howard in mid-season, but that still leaves 2 unfilled spots on our roster.  Why are we 5 weeks into the season going into a busy week with unfilled spots?  What happened to "having our team together at start of camp" as Bravo set as the goal?  Maybe we'll have our team together at the roster deadline in September?

So that's the front office mismanagement that has put us in this situation.  Now lets look at Pablo's handling of it.  He knows what the schedule is and what he'll likely have available the rest of the week.  With that he used....1 sub last night.  1.  10 of the 11 starters went 90 including both Pappa and Gashi, who played their first full games this season.

So going into KC what do we have?
GK: MacMath, who has to be questioning himself at this point, Froschauer who's never played
D: Miller, Burling, Sjoberg, and Burch, all who played 90 last night (to be fair, Pablo had no subs for them) and maybe Williams coming back after 3 weeks away.  Serna could be moved here.
DM: Azira and Cronin, both after 90 minutes last night
AM: Pappa and Gashi, both off their first 90 minute outings last night, Pwoers, who got 11 extra minutes of rest, and Pfeffer and Serna who are rested.
F; Solignac, after 90 minutes of play, Badji, almost fully rested after playing almost 11 minutes, and Conor Doyle fully rested

That's it.  Most likely we're going to line up the same 11 in KC as we did last week, maybe with Williams or Serna instead of Burch or Miller.  We will hopefully use all 3 subs.

Then on Saturday we'll get Jones back, maybe Berner, Watts, or Hairston.  But again the majority of the lineup from FSL and KC will have to start again.  How much do you think Gashi or Pappa or Burling is going to have in heir legs by the 60th minute Saturday night?

Its not like Pablo's teams have a real good track record in 3-game weeks.  7 times under Pablo we've played 3 games in 7-9 days.  In the first game we've had 5 wins and 2 draws before last night.  That's a great record.  Then it all goes downhill.  In the second game we've had 1 win, 3 draws, and 3 losses.  In the third and final game of the week we've had 1 win, 1 draw, and 5 losses.

In every case we've never had a better result later in the week than we had earlier in the week.  Last August, the lat time we had a 3 game week, we won all 3 games but other than that its been W-D-L or W-L-L, or D-L-L.

So we've got a tired team going into a series of games that historically we get worse in as we go on.  Instead of signing a full roster and using all our subs to stay fresh for these games we played most of our available players 90 minutes.

I fully expect the wheels to come off this week and for us to end it with at best 8 points after 7 games.  A far cry from the 7 points after 4 games we were at a week ago.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Cup Goes On A Road Trip

FSL.  I hate these guys (to paraphrase Indy)

The Rocky Mountain Cup takes a road trip to Sandy this week.  Unlike its trip here last fall though it will be safely in the hands of the Rapids travelling contingent and will return in one piece.  This is the first of three matches in the RMC this year, the first of two in Sandy.  Colorado has never won in Sandy (but they have won in Salt Lake City) so they'll be looking to pull off a bit of an upset.  Game time tomorrow is 7:30pm on Altitude 2.

Player Availability:
OUT: GL John Berner (hand); D Marlon Hairston (hamstring); D Sean St. Ledger (knee injury); D Jared Watts (hamstring); F Kevin Doyle (shin)
SUSPENDED: M Jermaine Jones (through 4/13)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty); D Mekeil Williams (visa issues)

FSl has 4 players out and 5 players probable due to injury.  Exactly what we all expected for the Rapids based on the Post report yesterday.  With a couple of guys in Charlotte as well we're probably not going to have a full bench and no defensive cover outside of Serna.

Starting XI Prediction:
Really a no-brainer, especially the back five.  With our missing players and our play last week I expect no changes.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Gashi.  FSL goes up early, probably involving Burrito Martinez, but due to our good defense they only get one.  Another late game collapse allows the Rapids to get out of town with a point and they take away FSL's home field advantage in the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Williams Stuck In Trinidad, Backups Injured

Some less than great news from the Post today.  The reason Mekeil Williams missed the Toronto game last weekend is that he's stuck in Trinidad due to a visa issue.  It sounds like tverything is fine at this point, he's just waiting for the slow Trindadian mail service to get him the final paperwork before he can come back Denver.  Hopefully that arrived today and he can flight straight to SLC to meet the team for Saturday's game because we're going to need him.  The article in the Post also mentions that Watts, Hairston, and St. Ledger are not expected to be available to to injury.

Without Williams that leaves us with a backline of Miller - Burling - Sjoberg - Burch and our only defensive option on the bench being Serna (who plays LB for the U-23s though he prefers right mid).

Once again that lack of center back depth is killing us.  I don't understand how we haven't solved that  issue yet.  We have an open player spot and an open international spot, yet we haven't signed anyone, not even draftee CB Dennis Castillo who is still training with the team.

Hard to blame the roster construction for a lack of fullback depth though.  You don't expect 2 injuries and a visa issue to happen at the same time, and even with that we have two natural fullbacks and Serna as a backup.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rapids Finish A Goal And A Man Up

Jermaine Jones signing my jersey

So yeah, that happened at the C38 tailgate making it a good day before the game even kicked off.  Then it was followed up by a red card, a goal, and a 1-0 win putting the the Rapids at a surprising 7 points after 4 games.  Great day on Saturday.

General Impressions:
  • Let's get to the three big decisions first since everyone is talking about them, going in order.  The first yellow on Cheyrou was an easy call and with the emphasis we've seen this season on late tackles driving studs into opposing players he's very lucky it wasn't red.  In fact Elfath called him over and appeared to tell him as much with obvious "tone it down" body language before showing the card.
  • Which is why I think  the second card came out.  After being told to tone it down Cheyrou went in with a leading elbow not two minutes later.  While the elbow was somewhat a natural motion and wasn't swung in this day and age impacts to the head or near it are going to draw more attention.  it was probably a harsh yellow card but coming immediately on the heels of being lucky to not get a red it made it an easy call for Elfath.  I have no problem with the call given the circumstances and would say as much if the call had been against the Rapids.
  • Here's the best screen shot of the rumored offside on the goal:
  • As you can see its very very close but Moor (of all people, sadly) appears to be keeping Solignac on side.  With the angle of the picture its impossible to tell for sure and you can see the AR is in perfect position to make the call so I have to assume it was correct.
  • So as much whining as some Toronto fans are doing (Kurt Larson, I'm looking at you) its hard to claim the were hard done-by in this game.
  • All that said, Elfath was a mess as the ref.  After the red card he made every makeup call he could but the Rapids, smartly, didn't give him a chance to even the playing field.  The two yellows he did hand out were a non-existent dive by Johnson (Burch's) and weak (Burling's), though the latter probably could have been given on a better foul for the persistent infringement.  Oddly the chance he had to balance the teams by giving Burling a second yellow in the 88th he passed on.  I'm not sure it would have made a difference by then.
  • Solignac's control touch on the goal was a thing of beauty.  More of that please.
  • Colorado has scored 3 goals this season.  Pappa has 1 of them and assists on the other 2.  So far that move is paying off in spades.
  • The Rapids were unlucky not to have another couple of goals.  Some good stops by Clint Irwin (no shock) and an unlucky post kept us at 1.
  • We really let TFC have too much of the play once we were up a goal.  Obviously up a man and a score we didn't need to push but with guys like Bradley, Altidore, and Giovinco it doesn't take much for that group to find an equalizer.
  • Speaking of Bradley he seemed to get int he way of every clearance the Rapids tried.
  • I can see why we signed Gashi but he hasn't quite put it all together yet.  When he does though...
  • Powers is a man without a position right now.  He's being played as a #10 but our actual #10, Pappa, is doing that job which leaves Powers with some confusion of where he fits.
  • Good to see Burling back, big upgrade over Watts.
  • What happened to Williams, Watts and Hairston?  Going in with an incomplete bench and no defensive subs is not what I like to see.
  • MacMath's quick release was really unnecessary late when we want to kill time.  I wonder if that's something the coaching staff has been pushing.
  • Badji is...not good.  His decision making was horrible.  He took shots with no angle while he had open teammates he could have dumped it to and kept possession.
  • Next up, bring on FSL and the Rocky Mountain Cup! 

Man of the Match: Zac MacMath.  A surprising pick to some I'm sure but I thought his stability in the back late really helped settle things down when the defense seemed to be losing their focus.  without it an equalizer could have been found by TFC.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Colorado Faces The Rapids Beyond The Wall

Giovinco, that you?

Toronto makes its trip down from the great white north tomorrow and they bring with them a couple of old friends.  Drew Moor and Clint Irwin make their return to the Dick after being traded in the offseason.  I hope the fans will give them the send-off they deserve, before watching them lose to our Rapids.  They're coached by another former ex-Rapid, Greg Vanney.  Game time tomorrow is at 6pm so the tailgate starts at 3 with baked potatoes being the special menu item this week.  Those who can't make it to the game and see it on Altitude 2 with 'Celo and Fleming.

Player Availability:
OUT: GL John Berner (hand); D Sean St. Ledger (knee injury); F Kevin Doyle (shin)
SUSPENDED: M Jermaine Jones (through 4/13)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

Toronto is missing two players due to injury.  Exactly what we all expected for the Rapids.  Of course "being available" and "Pablo being willing to start them" may vary for the six players returning from international duty.  Because of that I'm not going to attempt a starting XI prediction this week because PM has been so inconsistent with how he treats players after international games.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  A struggling offense against Clint Irwin and Drew Moor and a pretty good defense so far against an average offense.  I just don't see a lot of excitement in this one.