Monday, July 25, 2016

Rapids Draw, Feels Like A Loss

So in last week's recap I said:
At this point we just have to accept that this Rapids team isn't going to put teams away but they have great confidence in their ability to defend a 1 goal lead late.
Yeah, that confidence was a bit misplaced against the best offense in the league.  They got to within 10 minutes of the final whistle but couldn't complete the job.  A 1-1 draw was predicted (by me!) but felt like a loss after the game we saw.

General Impressions:
  • I really didn't like leaving Pappa on the bench for Hairston.  I got that half wrong.  Pappa should have played in Powers' spot alongside Hairston.
  • It was cathartic after a long week to heckle Harris in the first half.  He's still a hack that shouldn't be in the league.
  • So you can imagine my enjoyment when Hairston took the ball off of him for the goal. :D
  • Powers is where our attack went to die Saturday night.  Far too many bad passes and dribbling into pressure.  I've been a supporter of his but over the last couple of months its clear he needs a change of scenery because there isn't a spot for him on this team.
  • Doyle did a lot of work but there were many times he was pushed off the ball.  A lone striker has to be able to hold the ball up.  If that was a strategic move to get some fouls he needed to adapt to the ref who wasn't going to call it.
  • I hadn't really noticed before but at least Saturday night Sjoberg was playing a lot of balls out of bounds in defense.  I don't know if that was an intentional change based on something they saw in Dallas' attack or if he's done that all along and I never realized it.
  • Watts.  I'm done with Watts.  He's results are such a mixed bag even when he plays well and he can't avoid at least one obvious error a game.  In this one it was going to ground to make a tackle way outside the box and missing.  That gave Dallas the space they needed to get the ball deep on their goal.
  • I'm not saying Watts is solely responsible for the goal.  When the ball took a lucky bounce to Ulloa Cronin or, less likely, Sjoberg could have closed down the space faster.  I'm not sure it would have made a difference with the bomb that was hit but it would have been good to make the attempt.  As we saw a good offense only needs one mistake.
  • We were a bit unlucky not to have another goal.  Ddoyle's spin and shoot had the keeper beat but the defender was in the right position.  Hairston's 1 on 1 also had the keeper beat but the Dalals defender had an inch perfect tackle to deflect it around the post.
  • Pappa should have come on earlier to kill off the game buy finding a second goal or at least forcing Dallas to stay back to prevent that.  I don't think he as going to play at all until Dallas scored.
  • I hope Williams' injury isn't serious.  If it is Miller will have to take his spot which reduces our depth at CB again.
  • With the draw we fail to catch Dallas in points, but we still have 3 games in hand.  LA is coming up fast though, only 3 points back on equal games.
  • Our 1.9 pts/game is still best in the league though.
  • Last April we tied the league record for longest winless streak.  We have now tied the 2nd longest single-season undefeated streak (and 4th overall).  Amazing what the addition of actual talent can get you.
  • The good news is that next week NYCFC will have 4 players, including Villa, and their coach suspended.   
Man of the Match: Tim Howard.  a couple of big saves kept Dallas at just 1 goal and he did get a hand on that one as well.  So far he hasn't given up a "clean" goal which shows that teams are having to hit perfect shots to beat us.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Top Of The Table Clash

Or at least they take the lead

Colorado has their biggest regular season game in years tomorrow night as 2nd placed Dallas comes to town to take on the first-placed Rapids (I'm using pts/game).  The winner will be the clear #1 in the West, #1 in the league, and have a good lead in the the Supporters Shield race.  Kickoff for this battle for the West is at 7pm with the tailgate starting at 4.  If you can't make it the game will be on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Jermaine Jones; M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (2 games for good behavior reduction); F Shkelzen Gashi (4 games for good behavior reduction)

That's the official injury report.  The Rapids game preview lists Jones as Questionable and doesn't mention St. Ledger at all.  Dallas is just missing Zach Loyd.

Starting XI Prediction:

If Burling is ready to go he could take Miller's spot and Miller could move out left for Burch.  If Jones can go he's go in for Powers but I don't expect him to be available.  I'd like to see us in a 4-4-2 with Solignac up front with Doyle and Powers out, or if we want to keep the formation Pappa in the middle and Solignac out wide but I think Pablo will stick with Powers.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  Dallas has the best offense in the league (tied) but they have struggled on the road at times.  They also played a USOC game midweek in hot and humid Houston. Their defense can be beat, even by our anemic offense.  I don't think this game will really decide anything and the teams will have to settle it in Dallas on September 10th.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Loan Recap and All-Star Selections

Catching up with some of our loaned players.  First of all its been announced by the Switchbacks but not he Rapids that Conor Doyle is on loan in the Springs.  In total that makes 6 Rapids currently on loan.

Charlotte (USL):
GK John Berner - Berner has started 8 of Charlotte's 17 games but his numbers are slightly worse than their other keeper's.

M Zach Pfeffer - Pfeffer has appeared in 11 of Charlotte's games, starting 3 of them.  He has no goals or assists.

F Caleb Calvert - Calvert has started 15 matches for the Independence and is their co-leading scorer with 4 goals and an assist.

Colorado Springs (USL):
D Joseph Greenspan - Greenspan has started both games he's been eligible for since going down I-25.  In his first game he picked up two yellows and was ejected and suspended for the next match.

F Conor Doyle - Doyle hasn't  played for the Switchbacks yet.

Talleres (Argentina):
M Juan Ramirez - Talleres has not started its season yet.

Also this weekend the rest of the All-Star roster was revealed.  After the top teams had nobody voted into the game Jermaine Jones was named to the team by Dominic Kinnear.  All told the top 3 teams in the league (Colorado, Dallas, and LA) had a total of 3 all-start, 1 each.  Meanwhile Montreal, 7th overall, had 3 all-stars.  In fact the teams that got multiple all-stars are 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th overall which suggests that having stars doesn't actually help you win, which seems puzzling.

The most ridiculous thing is that the Rapids are far and away the best defense in the league (5 goals better than LA, 8 goal better than anyone else) but not a single Rapids defender made the All-Star game.  Axel Sjoberg should be an All_Star and you can make cases for MacMath, Cronin, and Azira.

In the end though I think its actually good for the Rapids.  One less game of wear on legs and one less chance for injury.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Clean Sweep

The game was more open than I predicted but in the end the result was what I expected, a 1-0 win for the good guys.  At this point we just have to accept that this Rapids team isn't going to put teams away but they have great confidence in their ability to defend a 1 goal lead late.  They have done so successfully 9 out off 11 times this season.

General Impressions:
  • I was really surprised KC didn't park the bus more in this game after playing midweek.  You could see it cost them late as they were running on fumes.
  • Most of the game though the Rapids did a good job of forcing KC to make the last-ditch defensive play hoping they would make a mistake.  KC did a good job of not making that mistake.
  • Pappa was called offside early and it got to him.  I'm not sure if the call was wrong but Pappa has to be able to let that go.
  • The other thing he has to let go is the ball.  He was far too in love with his ball-handling skills and instead of making the safe play he put the ball in risky situations that only paid off half the time.
  • Gashi continues to find his rhythm after the Euro break.  He's got a breakout game coming.
  • Axel was the rock in defense again.  Amazing he wasn't an All-Star.
  • With Miller now returned from suspension and Burling getting healthy Watts needs to sit on the bench for a while.  He's had 3 plays that could/should have been called for a PK in 3 games, but only one was called.  He's been very lucky.
  • The late PK shout for KC I thought was actually a good no-call.  It almost any other game that could and should have been called but Fischer was letting contact like that go all night without a whistle.  To call it in stoppage time for a result-changing PK would have been incredibly unfair.
  • I don't know what Williams was doing with that ball on the endline in stoppage time but it was bad.  Good thing it didn't cost us.
  • Howard din't have much to do (only 3 saves, none of them particularly hard) but he'll take the shoutout.
  • When Hairston took his shot I was saying "Hairston has not shot, Hairston has no shot".  Oops
  • With the win we're at 14 games undefeated, tied for 4th longest single-season undefeated streak in league history.  A result next week would tie us for 2nd.  Dallas has the longest at 19 games in 2010 (and we all know how that season ended for them).
  • The Bodmer Line is now down to .67 pts/game the rest of the way.
  • Bring on Dallas for our biggest game of the season so far.
Man of the Match: Marlon Hairston.  For a guy who I've been questioning the last few weeks the offense obviously changed for the better when he came in.  That and the goal was class.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rapids Try To Sweep KC

Time to clean the spork

Once again we face Sporting KC tomorrow.  After beating them earlier this season both home and away the Rapids are looking to sweep Sporting for the first time since 1999 (when they were the Wizards and we wore green), and some of those wins were via the Shootout.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm with an expected temperature of 91 degrees at that point so anyone coming out to the game remember your sunscreen and stay hydrated!.  The tailgate will start at 4 for C38's annual pig roast!  TV coverage will be on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Bobby Burling (knee surgery); D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
SUSPENDED: D Eric Miller (red card vs. Vancouver)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (3 games for good behavior reduction); F Shkelzen Gashi (5 games for good behavior reduction)

That's the official injury report.  The Rapids game preview lists Burling and St. Ledger as Questionable and adds Jones as Questionable as well, which isn't good.  KC has one player out and 3 as questionable.

Starting XI Prediction:

This seems obvious.  If Jones can go he takes Powers' place.  If Burling or St. Ledger can go (which I highly doubt) they would take Watts' place.  In fact since Burling and St. Ledger are listed as Out on the official injury report they may not be able to play in the game.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Gashi.  This will probably be a somewhat negative defensive game.  Both teams have above average defenses and below average offenses (Colorado more so than KC in both cases) and KC is on short rest having played on Wednesday.  They'll probably play conservatively hoping to grind out a draw or steal a win on a counter-attack, a strategy the Rapids haven't excelled against this season.  The home altitude and added rest will give the Rapids the advantage they need for another one goal win though.