Thursday, October 19, 2017

One Last Time...

The Rapids finally finish this season with a game in Seattle on Sunday.  At this point all they can do is try to deny Seattle a chance at a bye and avoid finishing in last place and winning the Wooden Spoon.  I'll actually be at the game with some family as I'll be spending the weekend back home in my old haunting grounds.  Somehow this idea sounded a lot better at the start of the season than it does now (solely because of how the Rapids are playing, I still want to see my family).  Game time on Sunday is 2pm as all 11 MLS games kickoff simultaneously for the last weekend.  The Rapids will be on Altitude while ESPN will be broadcasting a "whip-around" show showing highlights from all the games, like NFL RedZone or NBC's Goal Zone does for the EPL.

Azira and Watts are Out for this one due to injury and Williams is Questionable.  Seattle will be down 4 players due to injury.  This may also be the last time to see some Rapids wear the burgundy, though which ones those might be aren't immediately obvious (Burling?  Gordon?).

The Rapids avoid last place with a win or either LA or DC not winning.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Badji.  I'm really only predicting the goal because I want to see Badji get to double-digits.  Otherwise Seattle is a house of horrors for us, we have nothing to play for other than pride, and I have a feeling the team pretty much just wants to get the season over.  Our "big" stand was last week at home against our rivals, this game is meaningless.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rapids Finish Off Home Season By Almost Ending FSL's

Well, that was a nice way to end a bad season.  A 4th minute goal by Josh Gatt (with a great celebration in front of the visiting FSL fans) somehow held up under a barrage of shots from FSL and Colorado got the 1-0 win.  With the result FSL's post season hopes are on life support, now needing a win next week and needing San Jose and Dallas to drop points.  Unlikely.  The 3 points for the home side also assures the team of finishing above its 2014 and 2001 pts/game total, avoiding the worst season ever that this was looking like for most of the year (a win in Seattle on Sunday would push them above the 1996 season as well).

Gatt had the goal but Hairston was the man of the match.  He had a goal-line clearance midway through the first half and generally killed FSL's attacking momentum every time they got near him.  Howard came up with a few big saves as well to preserve the shutout.

One more game on Sunday before this long season is over.  A win will keep us from finishing last in the league but anything else opens the door for LA and DC to pass us.  Looking at the matchups I think LA is most likely to end up with the spoon, but we have a better chance than DC of ending up with it (for better or worse, depending on your POV).

Friday, October 13, 2017

One Last Time

One last trip to Commerce City to see the Rapids on Sunday.  The end of a very long home season is on us but at least we finish on a high note with a chance to return the favors FSL paid us in years past.  Namely all-but eliminating them from the playoff run.  That and avoiding our worst season ever is about all we have left to play for.  Kickoff for this one is an odd 5:30pm on Sunday as all Western Conference games kick off at the same time.

Watts is still suspended for this one while Azira is questionable.  Howard and Williams are back and there's an open question if this will be our last chance to see Howard in Colorado.  We'll discuss that more after the season.  FSL is down 5 players to injury and suspension with another two questionable.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Badji and Aigner.  FSL has already won the Rocky Mountain Cup so this one is just about pride.  Time to give the fans something to root for to end the season.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Still Stunned

24 hours later and I'm still stunned at what happened in World Cup Qualifying last night.  I had no thought that the 4th, 5th, and 6th placed teams would all win.  I figured the absolute worst case was that we'd stumble and either Panama or Honduras would pull a major upset and we'd have to beat the Aussies for our trip too Russia.  More likely I figured we'd play a boring draw and just squeak into the 3rd spot.

There's a lot of hot takes out there right now about who to blame and what the U.S. should do next.  Personally, I think the players take the majority of the blame for only playing a complete game about 3 times in the 10 game hex.  Last night, especially in the first half, we looked like a team that assumed we were going to Russia and didn't have to make an effort.  Outside of Pulisic and maybe Yedlin I don't think anyone on that field deserves to continue as a Nats member, and that includes Howard.

As for what we do from here, I don't know.  There is no easy answer.  Pundits have talked about what Germany did after their failures in 1998 and 2000 and I think the general idea is the right one.  The USSF, MLS, the USL (I'd say the NASL but they're going to be out of business in a few months) and the USSDA need to get together, figure out what the long-term plan is, and all commit to that plan.  That will require some give and take from all parties, and most likely new leadership at the USSF, but its time to examine everything in the U.S. soccer sphere, from the Nats to the Rapids Academy.

Next June/July is going to be very different for American fans.  For the first time in most of our lifetimes, or at least in the part of our lifetimes when we've been soccer fans, the Yanks won't be at the World Cup.  I'm going to be watching the UEFA playoffs next month to see if either of my ancestral sides, Ireland and Sweden, get through to Russia.  If they're both eliminated I'm not sure who I'll back next year, maybe Colombia.

Monday, October 9, 2017

As Expected, Another Draw

As I predicted Friday, Colorado and Dallas played to a 1-1 draw.  A GK mistake that allowed Aigner his second goal was cancelled out by a solid header for Dallas in the second half.  The most interesting thing in the game was Atiba Harris being yellow carded for a tackle on Aigner and then having that yellow card waved off after discussions with the 4th official.  Right call as Harris never made contact, though I think Aigner might have admitted it to the ref as well.  Otherwise it was more of the same from this season. though I think at times we had a more organized strategy than we've seen in the past.

The Rapids now need 2 points in the final 2 games on the next 2 Sundays to avoid the worst season ever.