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?