Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pablo Removed

Interim head coach Steve Cooke

Well I can't say I saw this coming.  About 7 hours ago the Rapids announced Pablo Mastroeni has been removed as head coach.  Assistant coach Steve Cooke will be the interim head coach with Chris Sharpe and Conor Casey staying in their current assistant coach roles.

This move has been a long time coming.  Only his status as the greatest player to wear the badge and his unwavering loyalty to this club kept him in the role after the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and it seemed his wonderful season last year had bought him at least 2017 and probably into 2018.  Everyone was wrong on that assumption.  With a career average of 1.2 pts/game, barely better than Fernando Clavijo, this couldn't last.  Despite that he was just 4 games from Mooch's all-time team record for games managed.

After all that, I still feel bad for how this happened.  Pablo is and will always be a club legend and he was tossed into teh deep end of a sink or swim operation.  We can talk about what support he did or did not get but this isn't how you want to see the Rapids GOAT leave the club for (likely) the final time.  He didn't deserve to remain coach, but he didn't deserve to get into the situation he was in.

The timing of this move is quite odd.  Right after the transfer window closed and without a major incident precipitating it.  There have been a number of theories floated already and I think they all have a piece of the truth.  The first one is that the season ticket opt-out window is closing and they're seeing a higher than expected number of opt outs, so they felt they had to do something.  While this is probably true, I'm not sure this move changes anything since it comes so late in the opt-out window.  Second (and my contribution), is the changes in the front office over the last 6 weeks.  Hinchey left, the window opened, Smith became interim GM, the window closed last week, and Smith has now been able to turn his attention from deal-making int he window to other parts of the GM job, such as Pablo's tenure.  The third is that they have more moves coming and they waited until those were in place.  We'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks but there's some rumors something might happen.

Looking forward from here, Steve Cooke takes over for some amount  if interim time.  Reports are that Cooke has been the one putting in the work for years, running practices, etc. so it sounds like he's certainly earned this opportunity.  I know nothing about his style or what to expect so its going to be interesting to see what changes are made..  Sometime between now and next March the team will sign a new head coach.  The question is, will they have a real budget and do a real coaching search for the first time in KSE history or will we continue getting the MLS retreads and rookie coaches that the last 4 hires under KSE have been?  If its the latter, I suggest Robin Fraser.

As part of this news the Rapids have also announced that there will be a town hall on YouTube after practice on Thursday at 12:30.  More details to come but I've heard that this will be a true open forum and questions will not be pre-screened or otherwise eliminated.  I will have a recap of the forum Thursday night.

For more discussion on today's news check out the Voice of C38 podcast when it gets posted tomorrow.  The reason this blog entry is so late is that I was already scheduled as a guest on the podcast and had a good time recording it with the Voice gang.

Monday, August 14, 2017

So...That Happened


So I did something this game that I don't think I've ever done.  Since I was at my company picnic when the game started I couldn't watch from the beginning.  In the past that's meant avoiding any spoilers and starting the game from the beginning as soon as I got home.  (Or, if I was travelling, just watching the highlights post-game) This game, I didn't really care.  So when I left I put the radio broadcast on in the car (around thee 35th minute) and watched the second half live when I got to where I was watching the game.

Based on the play I saw, it seems the team didn't really care.  A meaningless point from a 0-0 draw leaves very little to write about.  Right now its really hard to get excited about the last 12 games of this season so don't be shocked if my game reviews are light unless something of note happens.  The most interesting thing on Saturday night was the lightning delay followed by a team that according to Pablo needed to treat every game as a must-win playing for the draw, including the subs from Pablo.

There was one other thing to note, the first significant use of VAR in a Rapids game.  They got the call exactly right under the rules VAR is used in.  Also to be clear, its FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that set those rules, not MLS.  Lots of complaints about MLS being a Mickey Mouse league or Americanizing the game after the VAR call but it wasn't MLS's rules that allowed it, it was the same rules the Bundesliga and Serie A will be using this year.

Man of the Match: Kortne Ford.  Since I only saw half the game I don't know if he was the best player out there but he made a notable difference when he came in.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rapids Start Building For 2018 In Dallas

No, referencing this is never going to get old

With Colorado all but mathematically eliminated for 2017 its time to start looking at 2018.  I'm sure the roster we see tomorrow night won't reflect that fact yet but truthfully, its where we are.  Luis Gil is in Dallas and is available for selection.  Stefan Aigner is in Denver waiting to join training when the team returns.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 6pm on Altitude.

Burling and MacMath are out for this one still but everyone else should be available for the Rapids.  Dallas is just missing a suspended Gruezo.  For game #22 both teams are remarkably close to full strength.  With no time to practice with the team I assume Gil will take Powers' spot on the bench in this game, we may see him as a sub.  Otherwise I expect very little change from the last couple of weeks, sad as that sounds.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  Dallas has a better offense, a better defense, a top-4 team, and home field advantage (though Dallas is our second home).  This is an easy pick of what will be an ugly game.

Two Loans This Week

The Rapids have loaned out two players this week, Sam Hamilton to Drogba's Phoenix Rising and Castillo to Charlotte.  That last frees up the international spot we need to add Aigner who returned to town today and will start training with the team when they return from Dallas.

Still no word on the status of Juan Ramirez who is no longer on loan but we don't have an international spot to put him on our roster again.

When we started this transfer window we had 5 open roster spots.  After these loans we have 6.  SMH.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rapids Power Down In The Transfer WIndow


Well, that was anti-climatic.  After multiple published statements about improving the team in this window we got a new German winger who hasn't even started training with the team yet and at essentially literately at the deadline last night we swapped unwanted players with Orlando.  We'll start with last night's trade then look at the (lack of) activity int he window as a whole.

The basics of this trade is that we sent Dillon Powers,, who's contract is reported to be up at the end of the season, to Orlando for Luis Gil, who's on-loan from Queretaro of Liga MX until the end of the season.

That's the short answer, if you don't care about the gory details of MLS roster rules skip this paragraph.  Orlando also sent $100K in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) along with Gil and both teams agreed to keep the cap hit for their original player (Powers' cap hit is about double Gil's).  The reason for the TAM is that Gil was originally a FSL player and they retained his MLS rights when he left.  As part of the deal loaning Gil to Orlando, Orlando had to acquire his rights from FSL.  They agreed to a minimum of $50K in TAM.  Also with every loan deal into MLS there's an option to buy the player.  The loan deal stipulated that if Orlando bought Gil at the end of the season the deal for Gil's rights from FSL would go up to $100K in TAM.  Colorado has taken over Orlando's place in the contract with this trade so we will pay $50K of TAM if we don't keep him and $100K of TAM if we do to FSL at the end of the year.  The reason the teams didn't trade cap hits is that with the window closed it really doesn't matter since any cap relief either team might have gotten couldn't be used until the offseason window, at which point both players would be out of contract anyway.

This is a pretty meh trade for the Rapids.  Gil and Powers are players with similar skills and similar difficulty finding their place on their old teams.  Gil is a bit more offensively minded than Powers, which the Rapids need, but I still where he'll play under Pablo.  Overall this is really an extended loan for both players with the teams having the ability to walk away at the end of the season if it doesn't work out.

Overall this was a wasted transfer window where the Rapids didn't finish the job they promised had started with the Cronin/Burch trade.  Remember the quote at the time of the trade was that it gave them the financial flexibility to target an offense threat and the rumors going into the window were a midfielder, a forward, and an outside back was the plan.  Even when the window opened Pablo told the Post that the plan was two players, one that would "raise the level of play".  Well, we got two players, barely, but not without having to give something up to do it, which doesn't scream "financial flexibility".

As one commentator on the league tweeted today, the Rapids have traded Cronin, Burch, and Powers for Saied, Gatt, and Gil.  That's amazingly bad by the Front Office.  Two of three players would be likely starters on many MLS teams and while I think Powers needed a change of scenery I think he can become a starter, elsewhere.  In return we got 3 players who would be unlikely to start for most MLS teams and who don't fix our core problem, our inability to score.

Since the end of last season we've now added a total of 3 experienced players without giving anyone up.  Boateng, who's spending more time on the bench than the field,  Gordon, who's good for 20 minutes a game, tops, and now Aigner, who won't even start training with the team until next week.  combined they've played 775 of a possible 3780 minutes, just over 20%.

Shockingly, a team that got rid of players like Jermaine Jones, Marco Pappa, and Sebastian Le Toux and replaced them with experience that only plays 20% of their possible minutes has gotten significantly worse.  Even worse than that, the Front Office has given no indication that they realize this is a problem or care about fixing it.  They are just stringing the fans along like suckers, now talking about the next transfer window in the winter and hoping we forget about their comments about the window that just closed.

The Rapids failed this transfer window, possibly the biggest failure they've had since they did nothing in the 2014 summer window.  There's a term for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  The Rapids should learn it.