Friday, March 27, 2015

I Will Avoid The Obvious Houston Joke

Now don't lose your head Ned

But we do have a severe lack of offense.  Colorado heads to Houston tomorrow trying to break both its 420 minute scoreless streak and its 16 game winless streak.  The good news is that the Dynamo are seriously depleted due to injuries and national team callups.  The bad news is that due to the Avs and Nuggets playing at the same time there won't be any TV for this one until 11:30pm on Altitude.  1600 AM The Zone will have live radio coverage of the game though.  The blackout rules are still in effect on MLS Direct Kick and MLS Live so those aren't options if you're in Altitudes viewing area.  Kickoff, for those that can watch it live, is at 6:30pm.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Drew Moor (ACL); D Marlon Hairston (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg (foot); M Carlos Alvarez (ankle)

International Absences:
United States U-23: D Shane O'Neill

Houston has 8 players questionable or worse or on international duty, including former Rapid Nathan Sturgis.  Obviously losing our 3 best central defenders is not ideal and that's going to be the critical area of this match.  The fact that Jared Watts is likely to start does not fill me with confidence.  My guess at the XI:

There's talk that we might see Riley again and that Torres will move up top in place of Badji, but my guess is that Pablo minimizes the changes due to the shake up in central defense.  

Strategic Consideration: The back line.  We've been solid for two games but this is the weakest back line we'll see, especially if Riley comes back in place of Burch.  I doubt we get through this game unscathed.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Powers.  Yes, this is the 3rd game in a row I've predicted that scoreline but to be fair, the last two games were draws.  Both defenses are too week to expect shutouts but I'm not yet ready to predict a road win for this team.

Berner, Calvert, Eloundou Officially Loaned To Charlotte

The Rapids just announced that John Berner, Caleb Calvert, and Charles Eloundou have been officially loaned to Charlotte for the season.  Colorado does retain the right to recall them early if needed though.  This is just the official confirmation of something we've known for a few weeks but its good to know the details.  Now we need to know if that means their roster spots are freed up or not.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Torres No Longer A Designated Player

According to the Denver Post, who got confirmation from MLS, under the new roster rules that came out of the new MLS CBA Gabriel Torres is no longer a Designated Player.  Torres was not a DP due to his salary ($262K last season) but due to the combination of his salary and his transfer fee (which is split up evenly over the length of the contract).  Now with a higher cap and with a higher DP level that combination places him in non-DP territory.

What this means is that with Ramirez and Doyle the Rapids now have another DP slot open.  We'll have to see if they use it or not.  This also means that MLS is now covering all of Torres' costs, instead of the part the Rapids were picking up each season.  That might mean that the money designated to cover Torres costs is now open to be spent on a new DP, or it may have been used to help with Doyle or Ramirez.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bad Point From Good Play

Sorry everyone, my family concerns are continuing so my posts will be sporadic for the near future.  Again will dispense with the summary and move to the general feel of the game.  This was a much improved Rapids team compared to the Union game and while they dill can't find the net, at least it looks like they know what they want to do now.  The Rapids were the better team but some bad luck and poor shot choices prevented them from winning.  By all rights the Rapids should have 3 points and not 2 after these first couple of games.  We should have lost in Philly but won this weekend, instead we got 2 0-0 draws.

General impressions:
  • Great organization from the team defensively to greatly limit NYCFC's looks at goal.  I did not expect us to be able to stop their offense.  I mean, that is David Villa we're talking about!
  • 21 shots, 7 on target.  A big improvement from the 2/0 of the first game.  Far too many were hit right at the keeper though.  There were a couple of Cronin shots late that just missed as well.
  • The midfield was much improved in this one, despite the loss of Sarvas.  Though things got better when he came in.
  • No the sad stats.  420 minutes without a goal, 16 games without a win (tied for 3rd worst streak in MLS history).
  • Glad to see Ramirez play but he looked really raw and very confused.  I'm hopeful that more time with his teammates will help.
  • At this point Irwin is clearly the #1.  There should be no GK controversy.
  • We need to vary our strategy on corner kicks.  Sjoberg at the back post is a good strategy but it shouldn't be our only strategy.
  • We're going to miss O'Neill the next week or two as he joins the U-23 team.  He's a step above Burling or Watts.
  • Pittinari looked iffy early on but settled down.
  • Powers continued to prove why he should be starting, and why Palermo is rumored to be interested in him.
  • Great work from the tifo crew.  My second favorite tifo after last year's home opener.

Man of the Match: Axel Sjoberg.  Overall this was a good team effort where nobody really stood out but I've been impressed with Sjoberg's play for a rookie.  One stat tracking outfit had him with the most clearances in MLS this weekend.  Combined with Sarvas' good play and Klute's inability to get off the bench in Columbus I may have to eat my words about that draft day trade.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rapids Sign Ben Newnam From Charlotte

Based on his Instagram post today the Rapids signed defender Ben Newnam.  He signed with Charlotte this offseason but has been in Rapids camp from the beginning and apparently the Independence and Colorado worked something out to get him onto our roster.  With the signing we now have 27 players under contract (including Doyle) and 7 of our 8 international spots filled.  The new CBA reduced roster sizes from 30 to 28 but there's no word on how players at the USL affiliates (like Berner and Calvert) count.  So the Rapids have at least 1 spot free.

Updated roster:

(* = international):

John Berner
Clint Irwin
Zac MacMath

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Michael Harrington
Drew Moor
Ben Newnam
Shane O'Neill
James Riley
Axel Sjoberg*

Carlos Alvarez
Sam Cronin
Marlon Hairston
Nick LaBrocca
Lucas Pittinari*
Dillon Powers
Juan Ramirez*
Marcelo Sarvas
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Dominique Badji*
Caleb Calvert
Kevin Doyle*
Charles Eloundou* (not yet in camp, visa issues)
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres*