Monday, May 25, 2015

Rapids Get First Home Win In Over 300 Days

For the first time since April 18th a Colorado game had a winner.  For the first time since July 25th 2014 a Colorado game at the Dick ended with Colorado winning!  The Rapids continued their streak of only scoring once for a 6th straight game but for the first time since the 4-0 win in Dallas the defense kept a clean sheet for the second win of the season.

General impressions:
  • Sick assist by Torres.  Just flicked up up and waited for Pittinari to finish.  Got to be goal of the week.
  • Great to get a look at Solignac and Doyle.  Solignac almost had a second goal before it was stopped by probably another Save of the Week.
  • I also liked how neither one of them shied from the physical nature of the league.  hey both were willing to stand their ground and take (and give) shoulder charges as needed.
  • Vancouver fans are complaining about the lack of a call for the challenge on Koffie that started the goal sequence.  While one could have been called it could have just as easily not been called.  There's not much to complain about.
  • now on the waved off Vancouver goal I think the fans have a point.  I've watched multiple replays from multiple angles and I don't see what the ref called.  Something happened in the wall as everyone went down like dominoes but I saw nothing that stood out as a foul.  The CR did warn Vancouver right before the restart so he might have known something was coming and seen it but I'm still confused.
  • However he did the sequence right as he didn't call the foul until after the kick was taken so if there was a foul the correct restart (a Rapids free kick) was applied.
  • Other than the assist  Powers and Torres had quiet nights.  It felt like Vancouver decided they were going to shut those two down with heavy pressure and force the game to go elsewhere.  It didn't work, and hopefully that strategy is less useful going forward with Doyle and Solignac being threats.
  • Ramirez had less dribbles into dead ends which is a good sign.
  • Sjoberg is a beast.  His clean collision in the 14th minute just showed his size difference.  Rosales was trying to remember why he's playing this game while Axel just shrugged it off.  He has to be a Rookie of the Year candidate at this point.
  • Harrington not starting was interesting.  Maybe a knock in warm-ups?
  • O'Neill and Serna didn't make the 18 and today we found out they got called up for the Toulon U-23 tournament later this week.  Maybe Pablo knows we won't have them much this year (between Toulon and Olympic qualifying) and is trying to find an 18 that doesn't rely on them?
  • Seeing Drew Moor immediately look at 108 to celebrate at the final whistle was great.  He knows how mush this streak took out of the fans.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Had a number of big saves, including this Karate Kid "wax on" parry in the 77th minute.  Got his 5th shut out of the season, tied for 3rd in the league 1 behind his opposition in this one and his opposition Wednesday night.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rapids Get Going Again After Unexpected Bye Week

A Wet Week For A Wet Matchup

After the Sporks wimped out on us last week the team has had two weeks of rest before tomorrow night's game against the Whitecaps.  Meanwhile Vancouver scored a last minute goal over Edmonton on Wednesday night to progress to the final of the Canadian Championship.  Advantage Rapids.  Tomorrow night's game is at 7pm so the tailgate, featuring bahn mi hot dogs, will start at 4.  It sounds like a sellout tomorrow so hopefully the crowd will be into the game.  Marcelo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Marcelo Sarvas (knee surgery)

Looking good for our options.  Vancouver is down 3 players due to injury and have a couple more close to yellow card suspension.  My guess at our XI:

That's the same XI announced for the KC game last week.  The only change I could see would be LaBrocca for Cronin.  I think Doyle isn't ready to start at altitude but I'm sure we'll see him in the second half.

Strategic Consideration: Press.  Vancouver is on short rest and at altitude while the Rapids are on long rest.  Take full advantage to wear them down.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Torres and Solignac.  Going out on a limb a bit but I think the discrepancy in rest is enough to give us an edge.  We get the winning goal late against a tired Whitecaps side.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rapids To Host USOC 4th Round Game

Tonight the USSF revealed the draw for the U.S. Open Cup 4th Round.  The Rapids were drawn at home(!) against the winner of the 3rd round game between the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and Real Monarchs, played in SLC.  The Monarchs are FSL's USL reserve team.  The Rapids will host the winner on June 16th at 7pm.  We're still awaiting ticket information.  This was the most logical matchup for the Rapids as the USSF tries to keep things regionalized until later rounds to save money.  The one MLS vs. MLS matchup will be Seattle vs. Portland.

This gives the Rapids a bit of a busy schedule to end June:
6/16 - Switchbacks/Monarchs (U.S. Open Cup)
6/19 - Dallas
6/24 - @Orlando (which I'll be at)
6/27 - @KC (if they don't find a reason to wimp out again)

4 games in 11 days but at leas the first two are at home.  Of course Pablo Mastroeni and Marc Burch will be suspended for the USOC game due to being ejected against Atlanta in the loss that ended our run last season.

The Charlotte Independence play a 3rd round game against thee Carolina Railhawks with the winner going to New England in the 4th round.  Any of the Rapids players who play for Charlotte in their 3rd round game (or later) can't play for the Rapids in the USOC and vice versa.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farcical Reschedule For KC-Colorado To Oct. 21st

Today the teams announced that Saturday's postponed game will be played on Wednesday. Oct 21st at 6:30pm Mountain.

Honestly this whole postponement turned into a comical mess where KC played the Rapids (and presumably the league) to get exactly what they wanted.  Almost every MLS postponed game is played the next day.  That's what Pablo was expecting:
"Everyone else (with a postponed game) has always played the following day," Mastroeni said. "I (wasn't) even thinking that it's an option not to play the following day."
To be fair that's not entirely true, there are MLS games that get delayed beyond the next day, but they're few and far-between.

KC had an obvious incentive not to play Sunday.  They were very beat up and they have a game on Wednesday night.  By delaying until October they get all season to get healthy.  They also get a favorable schedule in the final week.  Friday @SJ, Wednesday at home in the make-up game, and Sunday at home against LA.  Meanwhile Colorado does get a bye the weekend before but then they play Wednesday in KC and Sunday in Portland for the final two games of the season.  I'm sure when we get to that week we'll get lots of talk about how the "schedule did no favors" to the Rapids, much like we did last month during the NY-LA trip, without any comments that the schedule wasn't to blame, the desire by the other team to mess with our schedule was.

The league promoted how they are having everyone play a conference opponent on the final Sunday of games and to have all those games kick off at the same time.  Coincidentally they also made sure not to schedule a mid-week game leading into that which allowed every team to have equal rest.  Now that's out the window for these two teams but especially for Colorado who has to travel for two games.

Both teams had June 13th and 14th off and Labor Day weekend off.  Why the league didn't step in and tell the teams to use one of those weekends is beyond me.  KC may have shied away from the June date as its an international weekend and Kc would be expected to be missing players, but that's why they shied away from playing on Sunday as well.  At some point somebody (the Rapids FO or the league) needed to tell them no, you don't get to veto every date.

Its also been reported that MLS's new postponement rules do not apply as the game never started.  Had they applied both teams would have had to use the same 18-man roster they submitted for the game.  That would have been an advantage for the Rapids as KC was a weakened side this past weekend and may have balanced out the travel issue.  While we will now be allowed to use Doyle and any other players added, I would have gladly traded not using Doyle for the number of players KC would have had to leave out.

Playing on Sunday would have been the right thing to do both for the competition and the fans who traveled from Denver.  They spent a lot of money and time to travel to support the team and the decision by KC not to play left them with nothing.  I hope Sporting is taking care of them, its the least they could do for their decision.

In the end this looks like another example of the Rapids taking one on the chin for another team.  First it was the NY game being moved and forcing us to play on both coasts in a 72 hour period.  Now its KC using the weather as an excuse to chicken out of playing us in their weakened state and moving the game to an advantageous position for them.  At some point it would be nice to see some evidence the Front Office is fighting for this team, even if they're losing.  At the moment it appears they're happy to bend over backwards to help out any other team.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rapids Get Reinforcements

Two reinforcements for Colorado today.  The big news was the official arrival of our new DP, Kevin Doyle.
By all reports Doyle is now available for selection for any games.  His readiness to play, especially at altitude, is still up in the air.

The other piece of news is that Joseph Greenspan has been cleared by the Navy to play in MLS this year.  Greenspan is a center back and was the Rapids 2nd round pick in this year's draft out out the Naval Academy.  He graduates Friday and was expected to join his ship, the USS Sampson, in San Diego.  Instead the Navy has stationed him as a recruiter in Denver for the remainder of the MLS season where he'll train with the Rapids in the morning and do his recruiting in the afternoon.  After the season he'll join his surface warfare ship to begin what's expected to be at least 2 years of active duty.  After that he hopes to petition the Navy to let him serve the rest of his 5-year obligation as a reservist and return to the Rapids in 2018.  Of course this is all up to the Navy so he may not be allowed to return, or the Navy may decide there's more PR value in letting him return early.

With these additions the Rapids are now at 29 players against a roster limit of 28.  Greenspan has not signed his contract so the team doesn't have to make a move yet, and with Alvarez, Berner, Calvert, and Hairston in Charlotte they may be allowed so go over the 28 limit, the rules about USL loans as part of the partnership have not been made public.  We'll know more once the team makes an official announcement about Greenspan's status.