Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Microcosm Of Almost Everything That's Wrong

This game was a microcosm of almost everything that's wrong with this team.

  • No depth as we're only using 25 of our 30 roster spots, so tired players have to play and players have to be played out of position.  This leads to injuries like we saw with Sjoberg and Gashi, who were just coming back from injury.
  • Players being coached into the wrong position. We're using Eric Miller at CB and Williams at LB. Williams plays CB for T&T and Miller has played wing pretty much his whole career. The last two games goals have been scored with the ball going past Miller on the assist who's guarding space and not a man.
  • Powers as a #10 failed, again.  If you're going to play Hamilton, why not use him at the #10 and play Azira behind him?
  • The only thing we have to play for, realistically, this season is the USOC, so we run out Castillo, Hamilton, and Perez. Why?  Azira is suspended on Saturday so use him in this match. 
  • Everyone but MacMath quit at the end. Its honestly hard to blame them though given the state of things.  Reportedly Pablo had a shouting mach in the locker room post-game but I'm not sure that means anything at this point.
This team needs blowing up, from top to bottom, again. And yet I'm sure they'll raise our ticket prices for us to watch them do it.

Oh, and the Rapids lost 3-1, just to record the details.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Deja Vu In Dallas


This week last year (the 29th to be exact) the Rapids were in Dallas for their U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match.  Tomorrow the Rapids are in Dallas for their U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match.  Yeah, seems familiar.  Last year this fixture went to extra time before Colorado lost 2-1.  They also lost Dillon Serna  for the year after a rash tackle.  Lets hope for better results all around tomorrow.

Traditionally under Pablo this is where the Rapids bow out of the USOC, losing in this round each of the last 3 years.  In fact only 5 times in the prior 21 years have Colorado made it past this point, the last time being 2006.  Given our road form this year its hard to predict otherwise.

The good news is that should we want to take this round more seriously than in the past we rested players on Saturday to allow u to do that.  We could roll out Sjoberg, Ford, Hairston, Watts, Boateng, Doyle, and possibly even Gashi if we wanted to.  This is our 5th game of this 7 games in 22 game stretch so we'll be making some changes no matter what.

Even with that I expect a loss tomorrow.  Dallas is really good and we aren't.

New Road Trip, Same Road Result


Really there's not much to talk about for this one.  If you've seen most road matches this year (Philly being the exception) you've seen this one.  The strategy was clearly bunker, be happy if we score on the counter, otherwise get out with a 0-0 draw.  Of course that fails, as it has failed every road game this season, when the Rapids give up a goal.  We're going to have to find another strategy (or a better defense) in order to get road results the rest of the season.

The only real notable event this game was an early tackle by Castillo which resulted in a yellow card but that everyone involved other than the center ref, including the Rapids announcers and fans, thought should have been red.  Expect the DisCo to suspend Castillo for Saturday's game.  Azira will also be gone through yellow card accumulation.

Man of the Match: Tim Howard.  Lesser of 11 evils.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rapids Hope To Survive Terminus

Luis Suarez is probably the closest thing to a walker in football

Colorado breaks new ground tomorrow, taking their first ever trip to Atlanta to face expansion side United.  The game is at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd stadium, probably the only time the Rapids will play there as Atlanta will move into the new Falcons stadium in August.  This will not be a battle of U.S. goalkeepers though as Guzan is not eligible to play for Atlanta until the window opens in two week.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm and the game is on Altitude.  C38 is running a bus up to Fort Collins for a brewery tour and then a watch party up there.

Burling is certainly out for this one.  Boateng, Saied, Doyle, and Gashi are listed as questionable.  I expect we may see Baoteng coming off the bench as the Rapids posted a video of him participating in 5 on 2 drills in Atlanta today.  I doubt we see the other three unless Doyle's hand issue can be padded in a way to allow him to play through it.  Atlanta will be missing 3 players including former Rapids forward Jacob Peterson.

Obviously with our 3rd game in a week and the 4th game of 7 in a 22 game run we're going to see some lineup rotation.  Combined with our injuries we'll probably see some combination of Miller, Williams, Powers, Watts, and Calvert getting the start to replace some of our more tired players.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Gatt.  Atlanta has the best offense in the league but one of the worst defenses.  That won't be enough help to the Rapids offense though.  Given our patchwork lineup due to injury and our busy schedule I don't see getting a result here.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rapids Lose Game And Players


Well, that couldn't have gone much worse.  The Rapids were fighting a uphill battle from 5 minutes in and after a disastrous performance from their back line a 3-1 loss was probably fair.  On top of that they may have lost Saied to a serious knee injury and Doyle may have broken his hand.  Not a good night.

  • If Gatt had scored that shot in the opening minute the game might have been very different.  He didn't even get it on target though (a theme that would continue for him the rest of the night)
  • Horrible touch from Sjoberg put him under pressure and then a lucky bounce as Axel desperately tried to clear it set LA up for their first goal
  • The Rapids were a little unlucky not to be leading at half as they had the better of the play and a number of good chances.  They just, once again, couldn't finish
  • After halftime, unlike the last couple of games, the team was flat and lifeless.  I don't know if it was the heat or the short rest but we looked much like the team that started the season, which isn't a good thing
  • da Fonte got worked by Joao Pedro on the second LA goal.  I don't know if he thought the ball was going out of play or what but it shows he has a lot to learn at this level still.  Ford did his best to stay with McBean but it was too much to ask
  • Ford made his own error on the PK, making it 3 of the 4 members of the backline making critical mistakes that led to LA goals
  • Pablo's 3 at once sub was a "why not" moment.  Down a goal with Saied injured they had to try something to get back into the game
  • I don't know why the Rapids  have instituted ticket checks entering and leaving the section every time, especially on nights like last night.  Are they really worried that everyone is sitting in the right spot in a half empty stadium?
  • The Bodmer Line is now at 1.58 pts/game the rest of the way.  Doable, but difficult
Man of the Match: Dillon Serna.  Yeah, I took the easy way out and picked the goal-scorer.  Mainly because nobody stood out last night.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rapids Host Galaxy On Pride Night


Its a busy time for the Rapids with their 3rd of 5 games in a two week span tomorrow night.  Colorado's long-time rivals (at one point a few years ago this was the most played competitive fixture between MLS teams) LA are in town and both teams will be celebrating Pride Month.  LA will be wearing rainbow warm-up jerseys and the Rapids will have the scarf shown above for sale (LA will have a scarf at their next home game).  They actually had it for sale on Saturday as well and I picked one up.  On the backside is an image of Denver's skyline in rainbow colors on a night sky.  Kickoff tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  The game is on Altitude for those who can't make it.

The Rapids will be missing Burling and Boateng tomorrow and Gashi is questionable.  Nobody else is listed on an injury report anywhere, for what that's worth.  LA is down 6 players to injury including Jermaine Jones, though he is rumored to be back this weekend so he could make an appearance.

My guess is that we see some rotation in the lineup due to the busy schedule.  Miller and Williams may show up in the wingback positions, Powers may get a start next to Azira, and Calvert might be an option up front.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  Yeah, same prediction as last Saturday.  LA has a better offense and a slightly worse defense,, but we have the home field advantage and the benefit of no travel.  Those all cancel out into a draw.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rapids Leave It Late In Toppling Timbers


Well, the Rapids have figured out how to win, just not how to win easily.  For the third game in a row Colorado had to come from behind to get the three points.  Just like the Columbus game, Gordon scored a late header for a 2-1 win.  It may not be the prettiest way but it is exciting and gets us 3 points!
  • This is the first time since 1999 that the Rapids have won 3 games in a row when the opponent also scored
  • Surprisingly Colorado is only 3 points off the playoff pace at this point.  If they win both games this week they'll be ahead of the average pts/game for the 6th placed team
  • The first half was a mess.  The defense was constantly pulled out of shape, largely due to the ineffective midfield
  • I'm not sure what Azira was doing on Portland's goal.  He correctly backs up Hairston, allowing Marlon to switch off to the overlapping run but instead of forcing Blanco outside towards Hairston and the worse angle he overruns the play giving Blanco the full use of his dangerous right foot and he made us pay
  • Pablo came out of the locker room significantly before the players for the second half.  Best guess is that there was a player-led discussion going on about getting things straightened out
  • I'll be honest, I thought that through ball from Doyle on Badjji's goal was too close to the defender.  Talk about inch perfect placement
  • Badji may be learning, in the past he would have blasted that ball instead of chipping it
  • The sub of Wats for Serna and moving Saied inside changed the game.  It settled down the midfield and gave Saied a chance to control the game
  • Pablo made a second good change when he went for the win by putting 3 up front.  It paid off in the Gordon goal
  • That's why we brought Gordon in and he's gotten us 4 points in the last 2 league games with last-minute headers.  He's almost paid for his salary already
  • Credit to Pablo for the coaching on this one.  Its  one of the few games where he out-coached the  opposition to get a result
  • Ford was a beat the whole game.  He's still relying on athleticism over reading the game but he's learning quickly
  • Great atmosphere in the second half at DSG
Man of the Match: Kevin Doyle.  Putting hi behind two (not one) forward really let him hold and distribute, as we saw on the assist.  He also did a lot of work tracking down balls and generating the attack.  Maybe his best "quiet" game as a Rapid.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rapids Look to Break The Timbers


Back to league action after the break.  The Timbers are in town tonight for the 4th straight home game (including the USOC) for the Rapids.  Its a 3 game week with LA coming here on Wednesday and a trip to expansion Atlanta next weekend so how Pablo uses his lineup will be interesting to watch.  Unusual start time of 7:30pm this one as this game was originally scheduled for national tV on FS1 tomorrow but after it was dropped it was moved to tonight and presumably either Altitude or Root Sports (Portland's affiliate) has something scheduled at the more usual 7pm start time.  Tailgate will start at 4:30.

Burling is certainly not available for the Rapids.  Boateng and Gashi are both questionable but I doubt we see them.  Supposedly Sjoberg and Ford are recovered from their injuries but I have my doubts they'll start.  Watts played in the USOC game so I expect to see him at CB tonight.Portland has two out and a number of questionable players so both teams will be running out patchwork back lines tonight.

Portland has a top 5 offense and a middle of the road defense that's banged up.  Colorado, as we all know, has a bad offense and a top 5 defense.  So we can expect most of the action to be in the Rapids defensive half.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  This won't be pretty for the Rapids but they'll get the point.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Open Cup Draw & Injury News

The draw for the 16 team bracket that remains in the Open Cup was held today.  It didn't do us any favors.  Our regional pod was as expected, Houston, Dallas, and KC.  Houston was drawn into the #1 spot, which meant home field advantage for both rounds if they survive.  Dallas got the #2 spot, which means they host the next round and go on the road for the quarter-final if they win.  KC got the #3 spot, which means they travel to Houston for the next round but would host the quarter-final if they get through.  That left the #4 spot for the Rapids, which means we go on the road to Dallas and if we win we go on the road to the Houston/KC winner for the quarter-final.  Should we survive past that we would get the winner of the West Coast pod in the semi-final, made up of Seattle, San Jose, LA, and the Sacramento Republic.  Home field has not been determined yet for that possible matchup or the final.

This is a replay of last year, where we beat Colorado Springs at home and then went to Dallas and lost.  The most notable incident from that match was the season-ending injury to Dillon Serna.  Let's hope history does not continue to repeat itself.

Besides, we already got a significant injury from the Open Cup.  Burling went down right before halftime and was clearly unhappy about what happened.  He went straight into the locker room.  Today we found out its a left foot strain and he'll be out 4-6 weeks.  Our center back options for this upcoming 3 games in 8 days are looking very slim.  da Fonte and Watts look likely to start Saturday night, or Miller pushing in from the wing.  Sjoberg, Ford, and now Burling are all banged up.  Castillo would be an option if we could free up an international slot but that seems unlikely.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rapids Play For 45 Minutes, Win 3-2

Colorado started the game apparently thinking this was a scrimmage.  Despite the Rapids dominating possession it was Oklahoma City that had the dangerous chances in the first half and the Energy took advantage, going into the locker rooms with a 2-0 lead after shoddy defending.

I'm not sure what Pablo said to the team at half but in the second the Rapids looked like a MLS team playing a USL team.  Goals from Badji, Miller, and Castillo, the last just two minutes from full time, got Colorado through to the 5th Round.

  • This was the first time the Rapids scored 3 second half goals since 2012!
  • Good to see Serna playing,, but I don't think left back is his spot.  We need to be using him as a super sub in the midfield.
  • Powers.  *sigh*
  • Badji apparently forgot the offside rule last night,
  • Or maybe he just figured that since the AR on the near side was getting it wrong often he'd take his chances.
  • 2 female refs on the game, I think that's the first time we've seen that at DSG for a Rapids game.
  • The Rapids will learn their 5th round opponent tomorrow.  The 16 remaining teams will be separated into regional pods of 4 teams and draw against another team in their pod, winner of that game will play against the winner of the other game in the pod in the quarter-finals..  Tomorrow the pods will be drawn against each other for the semifinal round as well so we'll know our exact bracket to the final.
  • My guess is that there will be a West Coast pod of Seattle, the Sacramento/FSL winner, the San Jose.San Francisco winner and the LA/Orange County winner.  That will leave us in a group with teams like Dallas, KC, and either the Chicago/St. Louis winner or Houston if they beat North Carolina.  Maybe Cincinnati depending if they try to make the break East-West or North-South.
Man of the Match: Dennis Castillo, easy.  An assist and the game winning goal (his first as a Rapid).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rapids Look To Short Out Energy In USOC

Tomorrow night the Rapids get their start in the U.S. Open Cup and for the first time in 3 year it won't be against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks.  Instead the Oklahoma City Energy will be in town as the opposition.  The most notable name on the Energy roster, for Rapids fans, is Anthony Wallace who was a starter for the MLS Cup winning team.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm.  Tickets are $15, $10 for season-ticket holders.  No tailgate for this one.

I generally don't make predictions for the USOC as there's no way to predict how seriously, or not, the club plans to take it in a given year.  The team has recalled Dennis Castillo and Ricardo Perez from their loans so it seems safe to say they'll get playing time tomorrow, which is indicative of a young lineup.  Names like da Fonte, Serna, Hamilton, and Calvert are likely to feature.  Even if Howard wasn't just getting back from Nats duty I would expect MacMath to start this one.

Boateng is still recovering from his injury and we received word that both Ford and Gashi were injured in the Crew game so I doubt we'll see any of them.

This is a game we can and should win.  But its really up to the players being focused and wanting it.  If this is more a burden than an opportunity in their minds then PKC could pull off the upset.

World cup Qualifying Wrap-Up

A quick recap on World Cup qualifying before moving back to club action.  After a lethargic first half in Commerce City on Thursday the U.S. put together 3 consecutive great halves to claim 4 points and all but assure themselves of a trip to Russia.

It was the Pulisic show in the second half on Thursday as he scored twice in leading the U.S. to a 2-0 victory against T&T.  That's now 3 straight wins for the Nats in DSG Park and they're 6-0-0 when I see them in person (3 of those were friendlies).

Last night Michael Bradley scored a goal we'll be watching 30 years from now.  Intercepting a poor Mexican pass at midifeld he took a touch, looked up, and from 40 yards chipped the keeper for a 1-0 lead for the U.S. in the 6th minute.  The Americans could only hold the lead for 17 minutes though (which still almost doubled their total time leading at the Azteca) as a Yanks attack turned into an El Tri counter.  Run DMB, still starting at the ripe age of 35, did the right thing and turned his man into the center of the field where 3 center backs should have been waiting for him but instead ll 3 felt Chicharito was the greater danger and Mexico leveled at 1-0.  That would turn out to be Mexico's only shot on goal in the game.  This was the least dangerous Mexico has ever been at the Azteca against the U.S.

With the 4 points the Yanks are currently in 3rd place in the Hex, though should Panama beat Honduras tomorrow night (likely) they'll pass the U.S.  Regardless the Red, White, and Blue are in good shape for Russia, with a moderately tough home game against Costa Rica in September and the 3 games they should be expected to win in Honduras, Panama at home, and finishing in Trindad.  That shouldn't trouble the Nats at all and it should be clear sailing to Russia next year.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sun Clasico Tomorrow

4 years ago we had Costa Rica and the Snow Clasico.  Tomorrow night we'll have Trinidad & Tobago and apparently the Sun Clasico with temps in the mid 80s at kickoff.

Kickoff is at 5:50pm on FOX Sports 1, with the pregame being broadcast live from inside the stadium.  Both the official U.S. Soccer events and the American Outlaws tailgate will start at 2.  The official events will be in the VIP East lot,, across the main drive from the normal C38 tailgate lot.  The Outlaws tailgate will be further East in Lot D and there's some overlap between the AO Denver and the C38 tailgate crew so you should have a good idea what to expect.

There's also a pop-up U.S. Soccer store on the 16th St. Mall at 16th & California that will be open until 8pm tonight and from 9am to kickoff tomorrow.  US Soccer will also have gear for sale both at their pre-game events in the parking lot and of course in the stadium.  The website shows red and navy hats and scarves made specifically for this game, I bought the navy scarf yesterday at the 16th St. Mall store (which didn't have the red scarf).  There will also be a ton of non-game specific gear.

Tim Howard has been named the starter in net so Rapids fans will have one of their own to root for.  Mikeil Williams is on the T&T team but I doubt many Rapids fans will give him more than cursory applause if he plays tomorrow.  This is a game the US should win and I expect they will.  The Yanks are clearly better than the Soca Warriors and being at home should make this somewhat easy (as easy as any World Cup Qualifier gets).

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rapids Earn Three Points

Colorado came from behind for the 2-1 win Saturday night, something we hadn't seen yet this season (and not much last season due to the number of 1-0 wins we had).  The team was the better squad  on the night both watching them and largely on the stat line as well.

  • 7 shots on goal, which might be a high for this season.
  • Interestingly Gashi had 2 and Badji had 3, and neither of them scored.  Doyle and Gordon just had the 1 each, and they both went in.
  • Azira caught a bad break on the Crew goal with the redirect.  Not really his fault but he took it hard.
  • He made up for it in the 72nd minute where he was in the perfect position to clear a Columbus free kick off the line.  We go down 2-0 there and its probably over.
  • The first half was more entertaining than last week, with action at both ends, but not much coming from it.
  • Kortne Ford looks like a CB of the future.  He's raw now and relying on physical strength to cover for his mistakes but he's got sparks of something more.
  • Powers and Hairston were not on the same page early with multiple passes between them going off course.  Powers once again seemed to be behind the play.  You have to assume he'll head to the bench when Boateng is healthy.
  • Great fight from the team after going down 1.
  • Both goals were well worked team goals.  You couldn't have drawn the first goal up on the white board better than they executed it, with a great leading pas from Gashi giving Saied a run into space, perfectly weighted pass to Haiston, and a cross exactly where it needed to be to beat the Crew defense.
  • If Doyle hadn't been there to finish it Gatt would have gotten it.
  • How many times have we seen Gordon crush a team with a goal like that.  How many times has he crushed us like that?  It feels much better to be on this side of that goal.
  • What does Dillon Serna need to do to get off the bench?
  • We still gave the Crew the heavy edge in possession.  I'm not sure a more rested team breaks down late like they did.
  • We're into the international break now.  Doyle is in Ireland for their qualifier on Sunday while Howard and Williams will travel with their national teams after Thursday's game but everyone else should get a good rest.
  • Next up, Anthony Wallace and Oklahoma City in the Open Cup on June 13th.
Man of the Match: Zac MacMath.  A bit of an odd choice I admit but he came up big late to prevent another Crew goal and he'ss the one that positioned Azira on that free kick.  Nothing he could do about the Crew goal so a pretty good game coming off the bench with Howard gone.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Montes Apparently Off The Table

Wrap up of yesterday's game coming tomorrow (or Tuesday if I get home late tomorrow) but one bit of news today.  This tweet is the second source I've been made aware of that has said that Luis Montes has gotten a new contract from Leon.  I think that's its pretty clear he's not coming to Colorado.

We saw the Rapids struggle in the winter transfer window when one of their primary targets (Koomson) ended up not being available and reportedly a second target went to China.  Let's see if they learned their lesson and have a plan B in the works now.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Conor Casey Rapids Number Nine!


The Crew are in town for tomorrow night's game and normally I'd make a Village People joke here but something more important is going on.  In a pre-game ceremony Conor Casey will be inducted into the Rapids Gallery of Honor alongside Marcelo Balboa, Chris Henderson, Paul Bravo, John Spencer, and Pablo Mastroeni.  Its a well deserved honor for the (almost) native son.  He's the all-time leading scorer in club history with 50 regular season league goals.  He was also MLS Cup 2010 MVP with the only goal scored by a Rapids (above) and an unofficial assist on the game winning own goal as it was his change-of-field pass to Kandji that caught the Dallas defense out and led to that George John mistake.

Game time tomorrow is 7pm but everyone should be in their seats by 6:40 for the ceremony.  Security lines were long last week so give yourself plenty of time.  The tailgate will start at 4 like usual but expect it to shut down a bit early so everyone can get into the stadium for the ceremony.  If you can't make it the game will be on Altitude and I'm sure the pre-game show will have coverage of the induction.

Lots of absences this week.  Burling was suspended (rightfully IMO) by the Disciplinary Committee for that foul he got a yellow card for in the 18th minute last week.  Howard and Williams were called up by their National Teams for the qualifier on Thursday.  I'm pretty sure Howard traveled to SLC for the friendly against Venezuela on Sunday but I don't thing T&T have a game scheduled so it is possible they could make Williams available to the Rapids since T&T has been training here in Denver.  Boateng is still injured and Sjoberg and Watts are both unlikely to play due to injury.  There were even reports of the team practicing a 3-5-2 this week due to the missing defenders.  I'm not going to predict what we might see in a lineup.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Gashi.  Columbus has the 3rd worst defense and the 5th best offense in the league.  They also played Wednesday night, beating Seattle 3-0 after losing 5-0 to Toronto last week.  If the Toronto team shows up we have a chance at a win but our complete lack of offense still handicaps us.  I think we can get one but not more than that and the Crew will find a goal when facing our makeshift back line.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hinchey Steps Down

Before we get to the big news of the day just a scheduling note.  The Rapids will play the USL OKC Energy in their first Open Cup game.  The game will be at the Dick on June 13th, kickoff at 7pm.

Now for the surprise news.  Tim Hinchey is stepping down as Managing Director (aka, club President) to become President &CEO of USA Swimming.  He'll leave the club on July 1st.

I don't think anyone saw this coming.  Obviously this is a big opportunity for Hinchey and I can't blame him for taking the chance.  My history and relationship with him is no secret so I'm sure some of you think I've very happy about this.  While I am excited to see what new leadership can do with the on-field product I'm not blind to the success Tim has had off the field, especially after he stepped back as the "face" of the Front Office and really seemed to focus on the business side more than the sporting side.  The numerous sponsorships (Westerra, AB/InBev, Transamerica, etc.), the increase in ticket sales, and the general positive financial direction of the club in recent seasons should be credited to him.

With Bravo having left in preseason that leaves Padraig Smith as really the only "leader" on the soccer side in the Front Office.  It will be very interesting to see how the summer transfer window goes now.  We'll also have to see what kind of candidate is selected to fill the open position.  Will it be a hands on soccer guy or more of a business guy who's content to let Smith and others run the soccer side?  How much experience will they have?  Will they come from inside MLS, inside KSE, or be a complete outsider?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Luis Montes Incoming?

I had planned to write up something about the experience at DSG this week but actual news takes precedence.  Maybe next week during the international window I'll get to it.

Over the last couple of days there's been talk about Mexican international Luis 'Chapo' Montes leaving Liga MX side Leon for MLS.  The Rapids have been talked about as a possible destination but today the Mexican newspaper Record reported that Clib Leon and the Rapids have a verbal agreement to make Chapo a "franchise player" (per Google Translate).  I'm not sure if this means a DP or as somebody we could buy down with TAM.  The first would necessitate doing something with Juan Ramirez before we sign Montes.  Either way, he'd be a highly paid player for us.

Luis Montes is a #10 who's spent his entire career in Mexico mainly with Pachuca and Leon.  He's been with Leon, first on loan, since 2011.  Chapo turned 31 earlier this month so he has a couple of seasons at the top his game left (hopefully).  He has 32 goals in 175 appearances for Leon.  He's also been capped 19 times for Mexico and scored 3 times, his first being in a Gold Cup match at Sports Authority against Martinique in 2013.  He was badly injured in the run up to the 2014 World Cup breaking his tibia and fibula and as such missed that tournament.

In the 2016/17 seasons in Mexico he played 2262 minutes and had 5 goals and an assist.  This was a decrease from the season before where he had 1 goal and 13 assists in 3149 minutes.  In limited playing time the season before after recovering from his injury he had 3 goals and 2 assists in 828.  All told that's 9 goals and 16 assists in 6439 minutes of league play since his injury.  One goal every 715 minutes and one assist every 400 are not stunning numbers.

I think if we sign him as a player we use TAM on aside another larger signing up top this could be a good signing.  He fills a need, getting a #10 would allow us to go back to the 4-5-1 somewhat more successfully, and as the "secondary" signing there wouldn't be as much pressure on him.

My concern is that this is the "big" signing from the Rapids in the summer window.  If that's the case he won't be able to get the job done alone unless he finds an unexpected spark.  He'll probably sell tickets, being a Mexican international, but he won't be able to drag this team to the playoffs alone.

EDIT: :Literally as soon as I posted new news broke that the Rapids and Montes have agreed on a 3 year 3 million dollar deal.  Translation is rough, if that's $3 million per year that makes him a clear DP and a poor move IMO.  If that's $3 million total, so $1 million a year, maybe we have enough TAM to buy him down and leave the DP slot available for other improvement.  I hope that's the case.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rapids Withstand Sporting Siege

Well I got my prediction from Saturday half right.  KC did outplay us, badly, but not in the one thing that counts, the scoreboard.  Kortne Ford got his first professional goal early on and then KC laid siege to our goal but the Rapids defense held up for the 1-0 win.
  • Great snap header from Ford for the early goal.
  • Unfortunately it led to an awful game to watch.  Colorado put everyone behind the ball and gave KC the run of the game.
  • Sporting had 73% of the possession and in all but one 5 minute window dominated possession.
  • After Ford's goal the Rapids didn't get another shot until the 34th minute (on-target header from Doyle).
  • The Rapids had no shots on target in the second half.
  • A heads up from the Rapids about the increased security would have been nice (more on that later this week).
  • I watched the second half from the top of 116 just to get a different perspective on the game and possible scouting for new seats next year.  I should have watched the first half from there and gone back to 108 in the 2nd to be closer to the action.
  • Breaking out thee Bodmer Line stat for the first time this season.  To remind readers, the Bodmer Line is the pts/game pace the Rapids have to play at to reach 46 points this season, which is the average point total for the 6th placed teams (the final playoff place) in a 34 game season.  Named after the Grand Poobah of C38, Mark Bodmer, who bugged me to run the stat.  The Bodmer Line currently sits at 1.64 pts/game, .07 less than our pace last season.
Man of the Match: Kortne Ford.  Goal, one of the other two shots on target (another good header), and a couple of perfect tackles on defense to break up promising KC chances.  His best game as a pro.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Colorado Hopes Lightning Strikes Against KC

Sporting KC is in town tonight and it could be a wet one.  Rain and thunderstorms are forecast this afternoon but right now it looks like they might move off before kickoff.  This is Colorado though, so you can never really trust the forecast.  A very wet tailgate will start at 3 for the odd kickoff time of 6 (not the usual 7).  KC is bringing a large travelling contingent so it should be a spirited tailgate.  For those who can't make it the game is on Altitude.

Its hard to predict any type of starting lineup at this point.  We know Boateng is injured and Calvert is suspended but everyone else should be available for selection.  Watts is listed as questionable but who knows what that really means.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  SKC is one of the best offenses in the league and has a pretty good defense.  We  have the worst offense (by far) and our defense is questionable.  This won't be pretty.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Relegation and Champions League: Overseas Roundup

Back a few years ago when the Rapids had less to discuss on a daily or weekly basis I used to have a weekend roundup of the various overseas teams I follow.  With the fall-to-spring seasons ending I thought I'd at least do a season recap of the teams.

Blackburn Rovers (English Championship) - Rovers made the stunning choice of hiring Owen Coyle away from the Houston Dynamo before the season started and he immediately managed them into a relegation fight.  In mid-February after 33 games Blackburn realized its mistake and replaced Coyle with Tony Mowbray.  He led them to the best win percentage of any permanent manager since the Mark Hughes days but it wasn't enough as Rovers were relegated to League One based on a 2 worse goal differential than Nottingham Forest.  This coming season will be the first time Blackburn has been in the 3rd division since the 1979-80 season and only 6th season ever at that level (the other 5 were all in the 1970s).

Queen of the South (Scottish Championship) - The Doonhamers have "found their level" in Scotland, settling in as a mid-table Championship club that occasionally makes a run at the promotion playoffs.  We saw that again this year as a stable "drama-free" season led them to 6th place in the Championship, 9 points off the playoff pace.  The club probably hoped to be a little close to 4th place than they were but with Hibs (Hibernian) going up and Thistle (Inverness Caleadonian) coming down the league should be a bit easier next season.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (German Bundesliga) - Hoffenheim had probably the most successful season in their history.  They finished 4th in the Bundesliga, their highest ever finish, and were undefeated at home.  The 4th placed finish got them a spot in next year's Champions League qualifier playoff stage.  The winners at that stage go into the Champions League group stage, the losers go to the Europa League group stage.  They'll know their draw on August 4th with the two-legged playoff series played in mid-August.

Melbourne Victory (Australian A-League) - The Victory finished 2nd in the league this season while hated rivals Sydney FC ran away with the regular season, finishing 17 points ahead of the Victory running in first place wire-to-wire.  Both teams took advantage of their playoff byes to move easily into the final, where Sydney beat the Victory on penalty kicks.  The Victory will play in next year's AFC Champions League after their 2nd placed finish.

CD Tenerife (Spanish Segunda) - I saved Tenerife for last because their season isn't done yet.  Spain takes a longer winter break than most leagues so CDT still has 3 games left and is currently in 4th place in the division, which puts them in a promotion playoff spot.  Levante has already won the league and Girona could clinch the 2nd automatic promotion spot this weekend with the right results.  Tenerife is 4 points behind 3rd and 4 points ahead of 7th (the first non-playoff spot) so really they are looking at holding down 4th unless 3rd placed Getafe trips up.  Then there's a shot at promotion which would mean going through probably Cadiz and likely Getafe.

On my trip to England in March we spent a wonderful day in Chester where I was able to pick up a Chester FC scarf.  So I've been keeping an eye on them as well.  After a good start to the season the team went into free fall and finished just 2 points from the relegation spots in the English National League, the 5th rung of the ladder.

Here's the collection of scarves I had in England after my trips to Chester and Blackburn:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wheels Come Flying Off For Rapids


Just when you thought the Rapids couldn't get more embarrassing there were the 60th-80th minutes on Saturday nights.  If this were a college football game we'd be saying the Rapids Couged it.  Complete meltdown leading to a PK, red card, and going from 1-0 to 2-1 down.  Going through some of the "highlights":

  • The lineup with players like Hamilton, Gatt, Ford, da Fonte, and Calvert makes me think the idea that we're playing for 2081 has more behind it than they want to admit. 
  • I'm not sure what Andre Blake was looking at on Calvert's goal but he just watched the ball as it sailed by him into the net.  Nice strike by Calvert but most keepers at least make a play on the ball, some save it.
  • Glad to see Sjoberg back but he could and probably should have been called for a PK in the first half by shoving Sapong down at the top of the box.
  • The moment we scored we started time wasting, leading to at least two warnings from the center ref.  This becomes important later.
  • Lots of talk from some fans about the PK.  Its a clear PK, the ball hits his hand at least two times and arguably a third.  There's even a case to be made that Ford could have been red carded for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity but that would have been harsh IMO.
  • Calvert lost his mind for 60 seconds and it cost him a red card.  Here's the text from FIFA's explanation of Rule 5.  Calvert broke all 3 of these rules in less than 60 seconds.  The dual yellow cards were absolutely justified:
    • "as soon as the referee has authorized doctors to enter the field of play, the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he shall be cautioned for unsporting behavior"
    • "irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorized to allow a player to re-enter the field of play"
    • "when the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines"
  • When Howard builds a wall he's probably expecting more than one player to jump.  Sjoberg did his job.  Doyle tried to get fancy and time his jump perfectly and missed.  Ford raised up on his tiptoes but never left the ground.  The ball went over Ford's head and into the net.
  • Once again, as we have in 6 of 8 of our losses, the opposition had equal or more goals than we had shots on goal.  In this case Philly had 2 goals to our 1 shot on goal.  Pitiful.
We've got 4 in a row at home at home plus the Open Cup match.  Realistically to get this season back on track we need 3 wins, a draw, and we should beat whatever USL team we play in the Open Cup.  Anything less and this season will be all but officially lost.

Man of the Match:  For this mess?  Please.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rapids Hope To Split Union

Two weeks ago this game looked like a chance for the Rapids to pick up points.  Philly had as bad a start to the season as Colorado did and you had to like the chances of at least getting a point on the road.  In the last 3 games though Philly has picked up 9 points to the Rapids 3 and suddenly this game looks much harder.  Kickoff in Chester is at 5pm MDT tomorrow and the game is on Altitude.

The Rapids are still without Boateng while Sjoberg is travelling with the team and could be used at some point.  I doubt he'll start but we could see him as a sub.  Otherwise everyone should be available.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  Prove me wrong Rapids.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rapids Smoked By Fire

Back to the animated gif recaps!

Rapids start with the same 4-4-2 they used successfully on Saturday

Chicago scores 15 minutes in after dominating the game

Rapdis get no shots on target in the first half:

57th minute and and shoddy defense leads to another Fire goal

63rd minute, Josh Gatt and Sam Hamilton, getting his first professional minutes, sub in
Yes, I made a Broadway reference, try not to faint

70th minute, Doyle in for Badji

74th minute, Fire get a 3rd

Game ends 3-0, Rapids have a total of 3 shots on goal

USOC Draw

Today the draw was made for the 4th round of the U.S. Open Cup, the round the Rapids enter.  They were drawn to host the winner off the Colorado Springs Switchbacks - Oklahoma City Energy 3rd round match.  If the Switchbacks win it will be the 3rd year in a row that the Rapids host them at home in the 4th round.  Colorado Springs hosts OKC on May 31st with the winner coming to Commerce City on either June 13th or 14th.  Exact date, time, and ticket info will be announced shortly.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rapids Hope To Be A Firebreak


So after breaking our losing streak its a quick turnaround with a midweek game tomorrow in Chicago and then the trip continues to Philly on Saturday.  The Rapids will face one of the biggest new names in the league in Chicago, Bastian Schweinsteiger.  Game time tomorrow is 6:30pm and the game is on Altitude.

The Rapids will be down Boateng for sure and probably Sjoberg.  Axel is back in training but I don't expect him to be in the 18 yet.

I'm not going to try to  predict a lineup for this one.  With the new formation and 3 games in a week I have no idea what Pablo will do.  I hope to see the 4-4-2 again and I hope Hairston stays at right back.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  Short rest, travel, and w'ere still not a good team.  We'll look better than we have, especially if we stay in the 4-4-2, but it won't be enough.

Monday, May 15, 2017

4-4-2? I Don't Understand Those Numbers


So the Rapids ran out on Saturday is this formation I couldn't quite comprehend.  A 4-4-2 which must be the new hotness or something, I haven't seen the likes of it for many years.

All joking aside I don't believe it was a coincidence that the new formation corresponded to the best play we've seen from the team this year and the biggest win since the USOC match against the Switchbacks in June of 2015 (in the league you have to go back to the April 2015 game in Dallas where we blew them out 4-0).  The last time we beat a MLS team at home by 3 was almost 3 years ago when we beat Chivas USA 3-0.

Colorado has unintentionally developed a decent 4-4-2 roster while being unsuccessful building a 4-2-3-1 roster.  Matthew Doyle does a pretty good writeup in the middle of his Armchair Analyst column this week.  In short, the move of Hairston to RB and the change in formation allowed us to hide some weaknesses and play to some strengths in a way the 4-2-3-1 didn't, especially since our greatest weakness was a player who could play the key #10 position in that formation.

I don't think the formation change was the only reason we won but it represented a change in the mentality of the team.  Instead of defending with at least 6 if not more the team was set up with 5 defenders (the back 4 + Azira), a box-to-box guy (Powers), and 4 attacking players.  Hairston at RB was also a more attack-minded fullback than Williams.  Also by having two in the box (Gordon & Doyle) the San Jose defense was forced to do more than collapse on the lone striker which gave our attack room to work with.

Going forward I think the team needs to stick with the 4-4-2.  Hairston should have played Williams to the bench, I know Hairston wants to play further up but right now the team needs him at fullback.  I'm not sold on Gordon partnering Badji up front, I think Doyle should get a legitimate shot there and I expect he will, his being on the bench was probably partially driven by the 3 games this week.  Boateng will take Powers' spot and Sjoberg will take Burling's when they're healthy.

Man of the Match: Shkelzen Gashi.  Gets on the score list for the first time this year and follows it up with a second.  You do you Gashi.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rapids Host Ex-Clash

I'm not up to doing a full featured game preview yet, but yesterday's response in the podcast is a step in the right direction to get me to reengage.

Today the Rapids host San Jose at 2pm.  Its expected to be 82 degrees and bright sun for this afternoon kickoff, so those on the East side (like me) are going to broil.  I expect to spend the second half finding shade on the concourse.  Those who can't make it (or decide to hide from the sun) can watch the game on Altitude.

Its going to be hard to know what kind of lineup Pablo runs out.  We're missing Williams due to red card so that means playing Serna at left back or moving Miller to left back and playing Hairston at right back.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  Sadly this lineup just isn't good enough to compete, especially down two of the more talented players (Sjoberg, Boateng) on the roster.

Friday, May 12, 2017

USOC Omission and Padraig Smith interview

Game preview later tonight (or maybe in the morning).  First I had an omission in my Open Cup results last night.  The Colorado Rush also played in the USOC Wednesday and lost to FC Tucson 3-1.  That's why Tucson is travelling to the Springs to play the Switchbacks in the next round.

Now, on to the first real response from the Rapids to the FourFourTwo article, the C38 letter, and the general poor results from the team.  On the official Rapids podcast Richard Fleming interviewed Sporting Director Padraig Smith.  The 12 minute interview is from about 16:30 to 28:30 of the podcast and there's a rough written transcription here.  I urge every to listen to it if you can but at least read the transcript.  Here's my reaction though:

  • Short-term we're going to see more of the same. Smith says its about having a more attacking mentality. Which is the same line we've been hearing for years. So I don't expect our attack to change before July.
  • Once again the excuse of the transfer window not lining up with Europe comes out. Yet most other MLS teams managed to improve in the offseason. Also, news flash to the FO, there's a lot of the world not on the European schedule. Maybe look their for players if Europe isn't working out?
  • He thinks we can make the playoffs with the summer additions. The team is going to have to play a lot better in the next 10 games before those additions for that to happen.
  • He completely ducked the question about the high turnover in the assistant coach position (Metgod, Spencer, Casey).  I think that's a fair question for fans to wonder about.
  • He also spun the question about how the Rapids always start the preseason late leading to starting the season behind.  I'd be annoyed by that but that issue predates even Paul Bravo, much less Smith.  Its institutional inertia at this point.
  • He was up front that they're hiding/being circumspect about injuries. Fine, I don't agree, but now we know "officially" that the injury report is largely useless.

I was actually happy to hear him come on and I thought Fleming asked great questions. I can't think of a major question he left out other than why Paul Bravo left (which he was never going to ask).  Smith's answers are still all talk though and their actions have yet to back up their talk. Until that happens I don't see the fan's opinions changing.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

News and Notes, May 11, 2017

A couple of odds and ends from around Colorado soccer.

  • Most importantly, the home game against Portland on Sunday June 18th has been moved to Saturday June 17th, still at 7:30pm.  Originally this game was scheduled to be broadcast nationally on FS1, it will no be shown locally on Altitude.  I'm assuming FOX told the league they weren't interested in televising a game from a likely half-empty stadium featuring the wooden spoon leaders.
  • Rapids draft pick Jaime Siaj made his first appearance with the Charlotte Independence tonight.  here's been no word that he signed with the Rapids so I assume this is not a loan and the Rapids suggested he sign with Charlotte with the hope he can eventually move up to MLS.
  • Azteca FC lost their first round Open Cup match to FC Wichita last night 1-0.  They had a player red carded in the 12th minute and still forced extra time after the first 90 finished scoreless.  In the 105th minute Wichita finally broke through for the only goal, and Azteca went down a second man shortly after the break.  That leaves just the Rapids and Switchbacks left in the Open Cup from the state of Colorado.  Colorado Springs will host FC Tucson in Round 2 while the Rapids wait to see who they'll play in their first game in Round 4.

Monday, May 8, 2017

When All Else Fails, Change Nothing

From Thursday:
This will be a dour game between the two teams with the least amount of shots on goal this season.  In the end Vancouver has better players and will get a 1-0 win.
Which is exactly what happened.  After 5 losses and 3 straight shutouts though the Rapids decided to stand pat as the transfer window closed today.  They apparently believe that we have the talent we need to compete for the next 2 months before the secondary window opens.  Padraig Smith talked to the Denver Post about the decision:
“We’re not going to do anything,” Smith said of the transfer window, which closes Monday night. “We had a couple of discussions last week and over the weekend with a number of clubs, but nothing ended up working out in a way that we wanted. One of the challenges of this transfer window is that it closes while a lot of leagues are still playing. Teams aren’t quite ready to let players go, players aren’t quite out of contract.”
Smith is right...about the end of the window.  Of course the beginning of the window is in February and players can leave their clubs and join the Rapids in preseason training in January (they just can't play in a competitive match until the window opens). That's also when windows for most teams are open, which gives them a chance to sign a replacement.  That's why most MLS teams make their moves in the offseason, but the Rapids decided to just sign Boateng and call it good.  So its somewhat misleading to claim no that we can't find any teams to agree to the moves we need, since we wasted the prior 2 months of the window.
“We’ve seen a lot of games recently and a number of players we were watching repeatedly, but it’s just a challenge with those teams still playing and still competitive in their leagues,” Smith said. “A lot of this is geared toward making sure we’ve seen players multiple times before we make any move in July.”
You know, like trading for Josh Gatt,  Who had 0 games in 2017 before the trade, 6 in 2016, 1 in 2015 and 0 in 2014.  All due to his injury history.
“Everybody is very frustrated here, because at the end of the day, we’re here to win and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We do see some positive things on the field in terms of how we move the ball, how quickly we’re moving it, the spaces and the positions the players are taking. Our ability to retain the ball and drive forward is better than it’s been in the past. But at the end of the day, we need to finish. We need to take the chances we’re creating. We need to score more goals. It is difficult to sleep, but we know the direction we’re going, we know how we want to get there. The key thing now is executing on that strategy.” 
The results of that strategy have gotten worse since the big trade.  We earned 4 points, scored 3 goals, and conceded 3 in the 3 games before the trade.  We've gotten 0 points, scored 2 goals, and conceded 9 in the 5 games since the trade (small sample size caveats apply).  We aren't close to executing on this new attacking strategy and from observing the game on the field it appears the players don't even know what the strategy is.

But, the Rapids brain trust has spoken.  We're going with what we've got for the next 10 games.  At the end of it we'll be just past the midpoint of the season.  To be on pace for the playoffs we need 20 points in those 10 games, which is ahead of the best pace we were on last year....

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Colorado-Vancouver Game Prediction

With no response from the Rapids from the events of the last week (FourFourTwo article, another loss, C38 letter) outside of an off the cuff interview from Pablo on a local radio station I'm not really feeling the desire to spend a lot of time on a game preview for this team.

This will be a dour game between the two teams with the least amount of shots on goal this season.  In the end Vancouver has better players and will get a 1-0 win.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Centennial 38's Thoughts On The Direction Of The Rapids

Copying this from the C38 Facebook feed.  I fully support this statement:

Centennial 38 would like to publicly express its concern and disappointment over the direction the Colorado Rapids has been taking over the last six months. Coming off of a historically successful 2016 season, supporters were buzzing with excitement. Everyone was looking forward to 2017 and how the team could be refined, improved, and be a legitimate contender for trophies.
However, the trajectory of the club appears to have strayed far from the course it charted last year. We understand that bad results happen and the team can't win every time, but the poor performance of the team is not the only concern. The results themselves are part of a broader series of troubling events. These other events specifically include:
1) Minimal player acquisitions and a general lack of overall activity during the offseason, especially if rebuilding is the actual plan for 2017.
2) The unbalanced trade that sent Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to Minnesota in exchange for unproven prospects and vague promises of future acquisitions.
3) Comments by Pablo Mastroeni in an April 28th article published by FourFourTwo magazine, in which he effectively stated the 2017 season is being sacrificed for 2018.
The third item is particularly concerning; because it gives supporters the impression that being competitive in 2017 is not important to the club.
Centennial 38, as the single largest group of organized season ticket holders, believes that the entire Rapids fan base is owed an explanation for the club's current direction. We believe it is unfair to increase ticket prices, based in large part on the success of 2016, and then seemingly scuttle that team under yet another premise of rebuilding. In addition it is unfair to the players wearing the badge, and to the fans who have stuck with this club through more lows than highs, to announce that this season isn't important less than two months into the campaign.
We would like to emphasize to everyone: our members, the Rapids staff, the players, the press, and the greater Colorado soccer fan base as a whole, that there is a very important distinction to be made between being critical of the club itself, and being critical of the people that run it. Players, coaches, management, and even ownership all come and go. In the end the only thing that remains is the identity of the club, and the community that surrounds it.
We encourage everyone to continue to wear the colors of the club proudly, and to show their true passion for the Rapids and the beautiful game. Without supporters, soccer is nothing.
Respectfully Submitted,
Centennial 38

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reasonable Next Steps From The Front Office

Yesterday's game was more of the same.  Well, actually it was less since we allowed above our average in goals (now 1.57/game), scored below our average in goals (.71/game), and had below our average in shots on goal (2.28/game).

The Front Office needs to take action right now.  This is still MLS and soccer in America so our expectations should be reasonable, but realistically what moves the FO should make starting today and into next week? We've got a coach that just threw the season under the bus, a team that has literally no offense at this point, and a 6 game winless streak. What's our next move?

Obviously I'm just a fan on he sidelines and I don't know all the limitations that the Front Office has on it.  But based on my knowledge of how MLS and the Rapids work, what the costs are of making changes. and reasonable time frames, here are my suggestions:
  • Prepare a statement to release tomorrow explaining what the plan was for this season, why its not working, and what steps are now going to be taken to recover
Honestly this probably should have been done already but really needs to be done now.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The key is to show you've learned form them and made changes so the mistake doesn't happen again.  Normally saying that you've done that is enough for an outsider but the Rapids have claimed to have done this many times and the results haven't changed.  Now they need to be open with us about what they've learned and what's going to change, just saying you've figured out isn't enough.
  • Announce that they will immediately start a search to hire a quality GM/TD within the next month. That new person will be given full freedom (and responsibility) for all on-field planning including staff, coaches, players, and the youth academy
Really until this happens, nothing else matters.  The history of this team after the leadership change in the 2011-12 offseason has been two playoff appearances and one series win.  Outside of those two years the other three seasons have been among the five worst in team history, and this season is currently looking like its going to end up in that pile.  Clearly things aren't working.  The FO has always been less than transparent about what responsibilities the Technical Director (Bravo), the Sporting Director (Smith), and the head coach (Pareja/Pablo), really have  Its time to give one person the power to set this team right.  KSE needs to be willing to spend to get a quality competent person to fill this role.  The one exception from giving this person full control would be a DP-level player that KSE would have to pay extra for.  It would be completely reasonable for somebody above this position to have final say on a signing like that, but their decision-making should be focused on the financial health of the transaction, not the on-field health.
  • Announce that the futures of the technical staff, including Smith and Pablo, will be determined by that person.  Smith should be considered for the position but since the goal of this hire is to hit the reset button his current employment by the Front Office shouldn't give him any particular advantage over any other candidate
The first step in getting this train back on the tracks is to have one leadership team going in the same direction.  Its not fair to whomever is going to make the on-field decisions to be saddled with the keeping or firing of a coach before they get here.  The new person needs to make the call, even if that means Pablo continues to run the team for a few more games.
  • Tell the fans honestly that in light of this plan it makes no sense to try to make a major move now before the window closes without this person in place. Recognize that this means this season is probably toast but also tell the fans that this new person will have the ability to make whatever moves are necessary in the summer window to stabilize this team for the future
Again, much like the staff decision, the new leader needs to put the team together, not be stuck with a major player contract that doesn't fit his direction.  The Front Office needs to commit to making significant moves in both the summer and new winter transfer windows to support this new direction though.
  • Announce a rebate policy for current season ticket holders. Something like everyone gets $100 back in cash or credit towards the 2018 season ticket purchase (ticket holder's choice)
With this season lost practically before it started the fans were sold a bill of goods.  There were multiple reports of fans being told the goal this season was a trophy and unfinished business from 2016.  Instead Pablo at least believes this season is about rebuilding.  In order to gain some trust and respect back from the fanbase the FO needs to take the financial hit and make good to the people that make this club a priority in their life.  By allowing a credit to be applied to next year's tickets it reduces the immediate financial hit of giving a refund and gets those fans to buy in for 2018.
  • Announce that season tickets next year (for one year only) will be reduced by a percentage equal to the difference between our 2016 and 2017 point total. So if we finish with 31 points this season compared to 58 last year season tickets would be reduced by 27%
I picked this idea up from a Burgundy Wave poster.  This is as much a gimmick as anything else but it would be an olive branch to fans, it would generate some positive PR for the unique deal, and it would at least be a silver lining on what looks to be an awful 2017 season.  It would also be an incentive for everyone in the organization to continue to do as good as possible this season as every point is a 1% increase on the ticket revenue next season.

Now obviously I don't expect the Rapids to do all of these.  With my viewpoint from outside the organization these probably seem easier than they really are.  Honestly I'd be surprised if something similar to more than 1 or 2 of them actually happen.  If the Rapids really want to change the conversation though, this checklist would go a long way with the fanbase.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Not A Game Preview

Normally this spot is where I put up a game preview for today's game.  After yesterday's article in FourFourTwo magazine though, I'm not bothering to.  Instead I want to talk about the article.  First let's start with the article title:
This might already be a lost season for the Rapids...and that's part of the plan
Um, what?  Well, this could just be a click-bait title, lets read on.  Pablo's first quote in reference to the Burch/Cronin trade:
 “Obviously, if we want to continue on the same path [as last year], we keep two experienced guys who have more than 20 years of MLS experience on board. But the direction we want to move in as a club, we felt like if we couldn't do this now, we'd be kind of in a precarious situation moving forward.”
I don't know about you, but a year where we down to the final day with a chance at the Supporters Shield and qualified for the CCL by finishing 2nd overall in the league seems like a path we'd want to stay on.

And now for the kicker:
Mastroeni acknowledges that a lot of what they're doing won't reach fruition this year. “We're definitely looking at 2018; there's a lot of great opportunities in 2018,” he says,  and that much will depend on whom the Rapids acquire in the summer transfer window. They are targeting someone who can bring a “bit of culture in the attacking third.” That could be a playmaker, a steady goal-scorer or something in between.
That sound you just heard was Pablo punting the season away.  This is a ridiculous statement to be making in APRIL after only SIX games.  You're telling us, your fanbase, that this year isn't important.  To be clear, here are some other quotes from the article to reinforce it:
“I think it's not so much about playing sexy football,” Mastroeni said. “It's about evolving and expanding the way we think about the game and the way we want to play the game, and all that takes time.”
“You have to start sowing the seeds of 2018 today, so that way you can reap the fruit of all the planning, all the foresight in 2018,” Mastroeni said. “So 2018 is critical for us. We're going to continue doing what we do, but everything is done with the mindset of putting ourselves into position to really be able to utilize all the cap space, all the different transactions we're making today, in the future.”
This article is mind-boggling for two reasons.  First, the most obvious, how can you be looking towards 2018 after less than 20% of 2017 is complete?  They clearly are based on these quotes.  Secondly, if that's actually your plan, how can you publicly admit it at this point of the season?  What kind of Media Relations process are they running over in Commerce City?  You want to kill interest, ticket sales, merchandising, etc. for the rest of this season?  Well, you just did it.

Almost as bad is that these quotes don't make me think they have a plan yet.  They're targeting somebody who could bring "a bit of culture in the attacking third".  Um, one attacker isn't going to change this team's problems.  At minimum we need a central mid who can get the ball to t he attackers and an attacker who can put the ball in the net reliably (we also need at least one outside back as well).  So they appear to be throwing away this season without understanding what they need to do to make 2018 successful.

There's also the question of what they spent this whole offseason doing?  If they needed "a bit of culture int he attacking third" why was our only attacking signing in the offseason Alan Gordon?  If we wanted to move away from our tough defense-first mentality why did you spend the offseason signing defensive players, then wait until 3 games into the season to trade away two core components of the defense you built around in the offseason?

Right now I'm thinking I want my money back for my season tickets.  If we're not going to care about 2017 then why should I be paying for 2017?  It certainly sounds (and appears from our play) that we're going to be using 2017 as a year-long training camp for 2018, but I don't need to pay regular season prices for what we're treating as preseason games.  I expect the Rapids to have some sort of response to this early next week.  I also want to see Centennial 38 (who I get my tickets through) have some sort of formalized response to this as well, and I've been told one is in the works.

I said after the KC game at the beginning of the month that it felt like for the 3rd time in 4 years the organization was playing the fans for suckers (and I fell for it).  This article confirms it.

Oh, today's game?  Orlando is going to run us out of the stadium.  2-0 loss at least.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Moving On From Minnesota To Salaries


And that's really all we need to say about that game.  It was that bad.  At this point other than Howard, MacMath (who was MOTM), and Sjoberg the Rapids look like a team of replacement-level players with a replacement-level coach.

So we'll move on to something a bit more interesting.  The annual salary release.  Here are the Rapids salaries.  The first number is the base salary, the second number is the 2017 guaranteed compensation.  Neither one are the true "salary cap" number but that number is usually somewhere in-between the two.

Adjei-Boateng Bismark M $300,000.00 $341,246.00
Azira Michael M $110,000.00 $116,625.00
Badji Dominique F $65,000.00 $65,000.00
Berner John GK $66,150.00 $66,150.00
Burling Bobby D $120,000.00 $126,000.00
Calvert Caleb F $100,000.00 $107,500.00
Castillo Dennis D $54,075.00 $54,075.00
Da Fonte Mike D $65,004.00 $65,004.00
Doyle Kevin F $1,000,000.00 $1,045,000.00
Ford Kortne D $69,996.00 $76,996.00
Gashi Shkelzen F $1,575,000.00 $1,668,750.00
Gatt Joshua M $175,008.00 $193,508.00
Gordon Alan F $180,000.00 $180,000.00
Hairston Marlon D-M $110,004.00 $110,004.00
Hamilton Sam M $65,004.00 $65,004.00
Howard Tim GK $2,000,000.00 $2,475,000.00
MacMath Zac GK $150,000.00 $150,000.00
Miller Eric D $75,553.75 $86,553.75
Perez Ricardo M $53,004.00 $54,254.00
Powers Dillon M $295,000.00 $325,000.00
Ramirez Juan Edgardo M $100,000.00 $100,000.00
Saeid Mohammed M $160,000.00 $170,000.00
Serna Dillon M $72,600.00 $85,600.00
Sjoberg Axel D $108,350.00 $123,350.00
Watts Jared D-M $75,000.00 $75,000.00
Williams Mekeil D $110,000.00 $115,000.00

Howard, Gashi, and Doyle only hit the cap at $380K, the rest being covered by TAM and DP money.  There are (at least) two caveats.  One, we know Minnesota is picking up part of Gatt's salary, reportedly a large part.  Second, TAM was used to purchase Boateng so we don't know how much of the $300K plus transfer fee is really hitting the cap.

Assuming Minnesota's contribution cancels out whatever additional Boateng is costing we're at about $3.6M against the salary cap of $3.85M.  So we have a bit of wiggle room after the trade with Minnesota.  All combined the Rapids have the 9th biggest salary total in the league, which is surprising, especially for the (lack of) quality w'ere getting.  Boateng's $300K is higher than I expected, I figured he'd be closer to $200K.  Azira got a deserved bump to 6 figures this year.  No real surprises anywhere else on the roster.

Some notes from the rest of the league.  Burch is making $135K and Cronin $300K this year which makes the trade $100K in our favor plus whatever Minnesota is paying of Gatt's salary.  So it did free up cap room, though we have not used it yet.  Also Jermaine Jones has the same base salary as last year but LA are giving him and addition $75K guaranteed over last year so somehow after only playing 8 games he got a raise.  Its hard to argue with the Rapids not re-signing him given that.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rapids Face Old Friends

Looney Tunes' Shirley "the Loon" McLoon

Back at it on Sunday with our first ever trip to the state of Minnesota to take on one of the expansion Uniteds.  The news this week was not good with the report that Boateng will miss 8-10 weeks minimum with a back fracture.  Combined with our other injuries and suspensions we'll see a very different lineup this weekend.  Of course, on the other side, we'll see Cronin and Burch again.  Two players we could realy use now.  Kickoff is Sunday at 4 and the game is on Altitude.

Player Availability:
Injury Report:
OUT: GK John Berner (wrist); D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery); M Nana Boateng (back)
DOUBTFUL: M Dillon Serna (calf); F Alan Gordon (hamstring)

Suspensions: GK Tim Howard (2 more games); D Jared Watts (1 game)

This week on the ever changing injury reports shows either 2, 3, or 5 Rapids listed depending on which one you read.  None are a surprise at this point.  Minnesota is missing 4 players it appears.  My guess at the XI:

To be honest though there are very few names on the roster I couldn't create a scenario for Pablo starting.  This seems the most likely but nothing really would surprise me Sunday.  Well, a non 4-2-3-1 formation would surprise me.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Badji.  Minnesota's defense is awful so we should be able to score, but our defense is a shell of what it was so I doubt our ability to stop much of anything.  Add in travel and the turf field and I don't see any points in this one.