Friday, January 18, 2019

A Talk With GM Padraig Smith, and schedule updates

Tonight Burgundy Wave posted a great article about a conversation Abbie Mood had with GM Padraig Smith.  I encourage every Rapids fan to go read it.  In fact go read it now, then come back and finish reading this.

Back?  Great.  One of the reasons I highlight the article is that I had the same one on one talk with Smith the week before Christmas.  We agreed at the start that it was all technically off-the-record, which is why I didn't mention it at all here, but I've used some of the information I've gotten to help round out articles about the Rapids moves in the last month.  Everything Abbie writes about tracks exactly with the conversation I had with him.
First of all I want to say personally that he's a great person to talk to and somebody who's passionate about the sport in a way some prior Rapids leadership has not been.  When I got the invite I figured it was just a courtesy, in fact being the week before Christmas I was too busy to trek out to Commerce City after work (or to take a couple our off in the middle of the day) but Smith went out of his way to agree to meet after work hours and to drive over to Olde Town Arvada to make it easier for me to meet with him.  Even then I figured it would be a 30-45 minute discussion over a drink, instead it turned into 3 hours of discussion where he answered every question I asked and didn't try to duck anything.

Also, fun note, he completed the Edgar Castillo-Kellyn Rowe trade while he was sitting at the table with me.  He told me not to get excited about Rowe though as we weren't planning to keep him.  Sure enough the next day we announced the Castillo-Rowe-Rubio 3-team deal.

I came out of the meeting believing, for the first time in a long time, that the Rapids had a clear logical plan they were working towards.  Now having a plan and executing to that plan are two different things.  I have yet to believe they can do the latter.  But given some of the discussions I've had over the year with people like Tim Hinchey and Paul Bravo (and going all the way back to Jeff Plush) there was a different feel about what Smith laid out and his explanations for the failures of last season.  I have one question I always like to ask when I meet with Rapids leadership (since its usually after another poor season) either publicly or privately.  Essentially its "what did we learn from our failures last season and what are we doing different to avoid them again?".  This is the really the first time I've ever got a concrete answer to the question.  You see some of it in the discussion on BW, his talk about getting players already acclimated to the league.  I think you also see a difference in getting the roster set before camp opens on Monday instead of things like meeting Mason for the first time in the Boston airport the day before the season opener.

I'm not going to say everything was sunshine and rainbows though.  I don't fully agree with his comments about there being standards and playing players that meet those standards over better players who didn't.  While I understand the logic, you're asking a hell of a lot out of a fanbase that suffered through the Pablo years to watch Jack McBean get start after start when there were clearly better options on the bench.  Obviously situations like Aigner can't be rewarded but it is possible to take that too far and I think they may have done so last season.  But if it pays off this year and into next year maybe it will have been worth it.  In the end he and I both agreed on one thing.  Talk is fine, but the proof is in the pudding.  All these plans and standards and learned lessons are for not if the results don't improve this season.

Anyway, if you didn't read the article yet, go read it now.  Its good information and it will be important to understand their viewpoint as we go through the 2019 season, and judge their results accordingly.

Unrelated to this discussion, the Rapids announced two schedule changes today.

  • Sat. Mar. 23 @ Dallas will now be at 2:30pm (was 1:30pm)
  • The home game against the Galaxy will now be Wed. Sept. 11th at 7pm (was Thurs Sept. 12th at 7pm)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rapids Sign Homegrowns Matt Hundley and Sam Raben

Today Colorado announced the signings of homegrown players M/F Matt Hundley out of UCLA and D Sam Raben out of Wake Forest.

Hundley is 19 years old and has an outside chance of being named to the U-2 World Cup roster this summer, depending on how many players are prevented by their clubs from joining the team (the tournament does not take place in a FIFA window so teams are not required to release players for it).  He started 14 games for UCLA this year and lead the team in scoring with 5 goals.  He signed a 4 year contract today.

Raben is 22 years old and finished his senior season at Wake Forest this year.  He's played for the Rapids U-23 PDL team the last two years along side his time at Wake Forest.  He made 91 starts in college, tied for 3rd most in Demon Deacons history.

They were joined at today's press conference by first round (and #5 overall) draft pick Andre Shinyashiki, who has also signed a contract with the league.  The three of them will join the ranks of younger players with the Rapids, including the likes of Nikki Jackson, Sam Vines, Cole Bassett, and the relatively speaking grizzled veteran Kortne Ford when camp opens on Monday.

I would expect Raben to be a candidate for a loan to Colorado Springs.  On a one year deal the team is going to want to see him get as much playing time as possible to evaluate him for the future.  Hundley could bounce between the two teams depending on the needs of the Rapids.  His positions is currently somewhat cluttered, with Mezquida, Feilhaber, Gashi, Nicholson, and Shinyashiki all playing somewhat in that in-between position.  I expect, of the young guys, Shinyashiki to get the first look and the most playing time with the first-team to start the season.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Draftee Today, Homegrowns Tomorrow

The 3rd and 4th round of the draft was held today, by teleconference.  Enjoy it while its here because if today was any indication, those rounds won't be along much longer.  Of the 48 picks, 21 of them were PASS.  The Rapids had one pick, the 4th in the 4th round, and took midfielder Robbie Mertz out of Michigan, teammate of one of our 2nd round picks Marcello Borges.  Our four draft picks will join the team at training camp when it opens a week from today.

They're going to be joined by two new homegrown signings who will be announced at a press conference at 11am tomorrow.  One of them is expected to be midfielder Matt Hundley out of UCLA, there have been rumors of his signing for a week or so.  The second signing is kind of up in the air, nobody is real sure who its going to be.

Regardless, with their signings and the fact that Shinyashiki signed a contract before the draft the Rapids will enter camp with 26 signed players.  That might be an all time high.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Recapping A Busy Day

Ok, lots of stuff happened today.  Lets break down the details, then we'll talk end result.

  • Made the Beeny Feilhaber signing official
  • Traded Marlon Hairston for $175K in GAM ($125K this year and $50K next year)
  • Traded the #15 pick and $100K of GAM to Chicago for the #5 pick
  • Used the #5 pick on DU forward Andre Shinyashiki
  • Used their two second round picks on defenders Marcello Borges and Jacob Hauser-Ramsey
So at the end of the day we ended up with two signed players, two trialists, and $75K in GAM.  We did had to lose Hairston to do it.

All in all, a really good day.  We covered Feilhaber last night.  Shinyashiki comes to us from across town at DU where he played with Kort Ford and Sam Hamilton.  He had 28 goals and 4 assists in 21 games last year and 51 goals with 15 assists over his four years with the Pioneers.  He plays a bit in-between attacking mid and full striker.  As a Brazilian he does require an international slot (more on that later) but he already signed a deal with MLS so he's pretty much assured of making the roster.  It will be interesting to see how much time he spends in Commerce City compared to Colorado Springs, given that he has Kamara, Rubio, Feilhaber, Jackson, Gashi, Nicholson, and Mezquida battling for minutes in similar positions.

Borges is an outside back that, if he makes the roster, I expect to spend most of the season in the Springs and be an emergency backup behind Rosenberry, Vines, and Wynne.  Hauser-Ramsey is a tall centerback that's probably a long-shot to make the roster but given that we're a little thin there he'll have a shot.

One interesting point with the roster right now is that we've got a bit of an issue with international slots.  Right now we've traded for one and traded three away, leaving us with 6.  We currently have 8 internationals though.  Blomberg, Gashi, Mezquida, Nicholson, Price, Shinyashiki, Smith, and Wilson.  I'm not particularly worried about this, we've got plenty of time to figure it out.  There are a few options.  The most obvious one is Ena Patel's work getting green cards for some of these players.  Shinyashiki has been here for at least four years going to school, Blomberg and Nicholson are entering their third season in MLS, and of course Gashi has been here since 2016, though he may not be too interested given that he's probably leaving at the end of the season.  Other than that there's the always the unlikely possibility of trading one of them away, or the more likely scenario that we trade for an international slot or two.  They tend to go for around $100-$150K of GAM.  Lastly, we could always buy somebody like Blomberg or Boateng out of their contract before the season starts (that would only work for one of our two extra internationals).  Regardless we have 7 weeks to figure it out so no need to panic.

Live-ish Superdraft Post

I will update this as soon as my work allows as news breaks.

11:00am MT - Sources report that Cicago has dealt the #5 pick to Colorado for $100K of GAM and the #15 pick.  Moving up for Sinyashiki?

11:45am MT: The Rapids and Fire make the trade official and the Rapids select Andre Shinyashiki out of DU.  A great get for the Rapids.  Now its a long run until our next pick, the 4th pick in the 2nd round.

1:30pm MT: More on Shinyashiki here.

1:40pm MT: Not draft related, but Marlon Hairston was just traded to Houston for $175K in GAM.  $125K this year and $50K next year.

1:50pm MT: With the 4th pick in the 2nd round the Rapids select defender Marcello Borges out of Michigan.  Next pick (and last currently scheduled for today) is at #18.

2:45pm MT: With the 18th pick in the 2nd round the Rapids select defender Jacob Hauser-Ramsey out of U Conn.  That's our last pick for the day barring another trade.  Rounds 3 and 4 will be held on Monday but the Rapids only pick, currently, is the 4th pick of the 4th round.  Later tonight or this weekend I'll post a better recap of today's moves.  If we do make another move in the 2nd round I'll update this post.