Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rapids Select Two Forwards In This Afternoon's Part 2 Superdraft

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Superdraft were held by teleconference this afternoon.  The Rapids made two picks, both forwards:

With the first pick of the day by anyone the Rapids took Jaime Siaj out of Pfeffer University.  He is believed to be the first player drafted by MLS out of that school.  He also apparently spent time in the Real Madrid Academy before college.

With their 4th round pick (2nd to last of the draft) Colorado took Peguy Ngatcha out of Wright State University.

Both of these players have a big hill to climb to make the team.  After the first couple of rounds of the draft the track record is not great historically.  The good news is that as forwards they're both competing at a position of need for the team.

Here's the newest update of the roster including our draftees:

Signed Players:
GK John Berner
GK Tim Howard - Designated Player
GK Zac MacMath
D Marc Burch
D Bobby Burling
D Dennis Castillo - International
D Kortne Ford - Homegrown
D Eric Miller
D Axel Sjoberg - International
D Jared Watts
D Mekeil Williams - International
M Micheal Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Marlon Hairston
M Ricardo Perez - Homegrown
M Dillon Powers
M Juan Ramirez - Designated Player, International, On Loan
M Dillon Serna - Homegrown
F Dominique Badji - International
F Caleb Calvert - Homegrown
F Kevin Doyle - International
F Shkelzen Gashi - Designated Player, International

Unsigned Draftees:
D Liam Callahan
M Sam Hamilton
F Peguy Ngatcha
F Jaime Siaj

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rapids Draft Two, Possibly Add A Free Agent?

Today was one of the more uneventful drafts in recent MLS history.  There were two big moves early with NYCFC and Portland moving up to 3 and 4 respectfully but after that the action settled down and for the most part teams stayed put in the draft or made minor moves.  The Rapids stuck with their two picks and #15 and #24, picking up DU midfielder Sam Hamilton and Syracuse left back Liam Callahan.  Both picks were seen as somewhat of a stretch as neither were high on most draft boards.

In Hamilton's case the general feeling is that he's a good long-term prospect but not somebody who's expected to contribute right away.  I expect that he'll spend a good chunk of 2017 in Charlotte.  He will probably team up well with recent homegrown signing Kortne Ford as they were teammates at DU and apparently best friends.  The ope is that with Hamilton having been in the Rapids backyard his whole life (he's from Evergreen and played for Colorado Rush before college) that they've seen something the rest of the league hasn't and we got a diamond in the rough.  I'm pretty confident that if he hasn't signed a contract already pre-draft he'll make the team at least for a season or two.

For Callahan finding somebody at the tricky left back position is always a positive.  Its generally the toughest position to fill for MLS teams so anyone who's comfortable there is worth taking a look at.  There are concerns about his ability to keep up physically in MLS with some questioning if he has the speed to play on the wing at this level.  He was a bit of a surprise pick I think so there's not much int he way of evaluation on him out there.  He'll be one to watch in preseason to see if he can make the team.

The big league news of the day is a change in the policy of announcing trade details.  Up until this point when General Allocation Money (GAM) or Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) was traded the amount was always kept secret.  Starting today (with NYCFC's trade to move up to #3 in the draft) the amount of GAM/TAM involved in the trade will be announced.  This will be great for us backseat GM's to evaluate trades going forward.

Late tonight an interesting news item broke.  Multiple sources including the Denver Post are reporting that the Rapids expect to sign forward Alan Gordon to (likely) a one year deal.  Gordon is 35 years old and for the last few years has been a super sub off the bench for LA and San Jose.  In the last 3 seasons he has 80 appearances, 13 goals, and 2 assists but only 25 starts.  He's been in the league since 2004 and with the exception of 8 games with Toronto in 2011 has spent the whole time bouncing between the 3 California teams.

Personally I'm not a big fan of Alan Gordon but I think that's more because he's got some sort of 'luck of the Irish' going where I've seen him somehow be in the right place at the right time to salvage late points for San Jose and LA in games they had no business getting points out of.  While I don't think at his age (and mileage) we should be looking at Gordon to start any significant game this season he would be a better option off the bench than Badji.  He would also fit the same style of play as the Rapids would use with Doyle in the game, which would make for an easy sub for him.  I really doubt his ability to be effective over 90 minutes though so I don't think he's a solution to deal with any absence from Doyle.  He could start USOC and CCL games against lower league competition.

Here's the newest update of the roster including our draftees:

Signed Players:
GK John Berner
GK Tim Howard - Designated Player
GK Zac MacMath
D Marc Burch
D Bobby Burling
D Dennis Castillo - International
D Kortne Ford - Homegrown
D Eric Miller
D Axel Sjoberg - International
D Jared Watts
D Mekeil Williams - International
M Micheal Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Marlon Hairston
M Ricardo Perez - Homegrown
M Dillon Powers
M Juan Ramirez - Designated Player, International, On Loan
M Dillon Serna - Homegrown
F Dominique Badji - International
F Caleb Calvert - Homegrown
F Kevin Doyle - International
F Shkelzen Gashi - Designated Player, International

Unsigned Draftees:
D Liam Callahan
M Sam Hamilton

2017 Superdraft - Live Coverage

This post will be updated as much as I can with any Rapids news and picks as the draft goes along this afternoon.

With pick #15 the Rapids take midfielder Sam Hamilton out of the University of Denver.  A local kid out of Evergreen he was an all-Summit League first-teamer the last two years.

With the 24th pick (2nd pick in the 2nd round) the Rapids pick left back Liam Callahan out of Suracuse.  Left back is a hard spot to fill so its always good to have options there.  There are some questions about his toughness and ability to stand up to a MLS season.

That's the last scheduled pick for the Rapids today.  If Colorado moves back into the 2nd round I'll update this post.  Otherwise I'll have a little more detail about these two picks tonight.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Schedule Today, Superdraft Tomorrow

Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines.  We have the 2017 schedule.  Rather than copy it all here when you can read it in dozens (hundreds?) of other places on the web I'll just link to it and we'll get to the analysis.

We start off, as already announced, at home against the Revs on March 4th.  After a trip to NY we come home to get our first look at the expansion Minnesota United on March 18th (a game I'll sadly miss).  A week off for World Cup qualifying then brings our old friends Oscar Pareja and Dallas to town before we head over to KC the following week.  We finish our early season by hosting FSL in the first Rocky Mountain Cup match of the season on tax day.

The good news is that we don't play through any World Cup Qualifying breaks.  The bad news is that because of that and our CCL play our late season is going to be very busy.  August in particular could be ugly with 4 out of 5 league games on the road, including 3 games in a week between the 19th and the 26th (the last of them being our RMC match in Sandy), and probably a home and away CCL match.  7 games in a month, 5 of which will be on the road.

We finish with another 3 games in a week at the end of September when we go to Vancouver, Dallas, and then host Montreal in a week.  After the international break we end the home season with our second home RMC match and then head to Seattle for the final game of the regular season.

Other notes about the schedule:

  • FSL, Dallas, and Vancouver are the teams we get 3 times this season.  Dallas once at home, Vancouver and FSL twice.
  • We go to expansion team Atlanta United on June 24th and expansion Minnesota on April 23rd.
  • This year's 4th of July opponent is the Seattle Sounders
  • We play 3 games in a row at home once (June 3rd, 18th, and 21st) and 3 on the road once (Aug 23rd, 26th, and Sept 9th).  The rest of the season is no more than 2 in a row at home or on the road.
  • One Wednesday, one Friday, and two Sunday home matches.  The rest are on Saturdays.
  • A number of 3 game weeks this year (before you even get to adding in CCL games):
    • May 13-20 (SJ, @Chi, @Philly)
    • May 27-June 3 (KC, @LA, Columbus)
    • June 18-24 (Portland, LA, @Atlanta)
    • Aug 19-26 (DC, @Portland, @FSL)
    • Sept 23-30 (Vancouver, @Dallas, Montreal)
  • Add in the Saturday-Tuesday game on July 1st and 4th and 17 of our 34 games are being played going into or coming off short rest.
  • All in all we need to rack up points early int he season and often because the second half of the season is going to be a marathon.
  • 5 games on national TV, 2 on FS1, 3 on UniMas
  • Bye weeks March 25th, June 10th, July 8th & 15th, Oct 8th.  All of those byes are during World Cup Qualifiers or the Gold Cup.
The schedule news comes a day before the Superdraft.  The first two rounds will be tomorrow starting at 1pm.  The 3rd and 4th round will be Tuesday via conference call .  Currently the Rapids hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 2nd pick in the second round (24th overall pick).  There are rumors that the Rapids are looking to make a big move up the board to pick up UCLA forward Abu Danladi.  He's considered the ost ready and best striker option in the draft...when healthy and focused.  He's spent almost as much time injured as playing at UCLA though.  Forward Jeremy Ebobisse out of Duke is the more sure bet but isn't seen to have as high a ceiling as Danladi.

I'll update the blog tomorrow with Rapids picks and/or trades as they happen and then do a recap tomorrow night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Front Office Changes

A couple of leadership rumors out of Commerce City today:

First, confirmation of how the Rapids are filling the void left by Bravo's departure:
With Paul Bravo out, Padraig Smith is now running point for Rapids' tech staff ahead of draft, Mastroeni and club spokesman confirm.
This is not a surprise, I think most people figured this was the case.  Now is this a permanent change or do the Rapids still plan to fill the Technical Director position from outside the organization?

The second rumor is a little more surprising:
Hearing that John Spencer has left . Heard further rumblings that he might be San Jose bound.
 To provide more context, Spencer assisted Kinnear when the 2 were in Houston. If he joins , I suspect it will b in similar capacity
As reported by , John Spencer has left Rapids. Conor Casey is here with the club, looks like he'll fill assistant vacancy.
That's the 3rd assistant coach in 3 seasons under Pablo to leave their coaching post.  John Metgod left midway through the 2014 season, Claudio Lopez went back into the Front Office after the 2015 season, and now John Spencer has apparently left after the 2016 season to join San Jose.  There are reasonable explanations for all of these (Metgod didn't fit, Lopez never wanted to be a coach, and Spencer is rejoining his mentor) but its a bit distressing to see that much turnover in a spot that was (at least for the last two) brought in specifically to fix the attacking issues the team has.  Consistency would probably help with that process.  The possibility that there's something we don't  know that links these moves together (people can't work with Pablo, FO doesn't pay enough, etc.) is even more concerning, though also less likely.

The Conor Casey part of the news is an interesting surprise.  When he left the Rapids after the 2012 season it was a well-known rumor that he was unhappy with team leadership.  He also infamously stormed off the training pitch after getting into a verbal altercation with Gary Smith right after the 2011 season ended.  I'm glad to see that whatever issues that there may have been between him and the leadership have been solved.  Given what has been rumored I think his issues were more with the coaching staff (Smith and Pareja) than the front office leadership.  I didn't know he was interested in coaching but seeing what he brings to the team will be something to watch for.