Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jens Almost Pulls Off The Upset

SHUT UP LEGS!

Sadly Jens didn't pull it off. Breaking away from the early breakaway with under 40K to go Voigt was caught by the peloton with 750m to go, leading to a sprint victory by Cannondale's Viviani. That's his 3rd stage win in Colorado. I saw his first win in person in the VIP tent about 50m from the line in 2011.

Going back to yesterday's Stage 3 (sorry I didn't get an update posted, Rapids game) it blew up the leader board. Early on a small group of 8 including Michael Rodgers, Teejay, Alex Howes, Tommy D, and Jainer Acevedo got off the front during the first climb of Monarch Mountain. TREK hammered the peloton to close the gap and a small group that included Matthew Buche and Rafal Majka caught the leaders before the second climb up Monarch. The group stayed together for the most part until the last 4K when the big names dropped the rest, including leader Alex Howes. With 1K to go Teejay attacked and only Majka was able to go with him. Teejay won the stage, took the overall lead, and barring a disaster should defend his 2013 race victory.

Stage:
1. Elia Viviani - Cannondale
2. Martin Kohler - BMC
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly

GC:
1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Rafal Majka - Saxo-Tinkoff ( :20)
3. Ben Hermans - BMC ( :23)

Sprint:
1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (27)
2. Danny Summerhill - UHC (23)
3. Tyler Magner - Hincapie (17)

KOM:
1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (35)
2. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC (27)
3. Ben Hermans - BMC (23)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (5:37)
3. Tanner Putt - Bissell ( 12:45)

Team:
1. BMC
2. TREK (2:54)
3. Garmin-SHARP (4:24)

Most aggressive for Stage 3 was Michael Rodgers. Most aggressive today was obviously Jens Voigt.

Teejay took the Best Colorado jersey after Stage 2 and keeps it as long as he stays in the lead.

Well, At Least It Was Entertaining

As expected the Rapids leaked goals like a sieve.  Unexpectedly the offense actually showed up for a half, scoring 3 nice goals.  Sadly that wasn't enough and the Rapids lost their 5th straight 4-3, with the retiring Donovan getting the winner.  Defensively this was the same game we've seen in the last 5 games, but at least the offense made it an interesting game.
  • We're now down to .28 pts/game on short rest.  We're at 1.56 pts/game on "normal" rest.  The good news is that there's no more short rest games this season.
  • I know its the "thing" now in American sports, but giving gifts to a retiring player on the visiting team drives me crazy.  "Thanks for kicking the crap out of us for so many years!"  Last night apparently the Rapids gave Donovan a ski pass, a swag bag from Vail Resorts, and a bottle of wine from Kroenke's winery.  Oh, and the game-winning goal.
  • On the flip side, the honoring of Jamie Smith was nicely done.  Bagpipes!  And Jamie in full kilt with sporran!  That was fun.
  • Hairston's first professional goal to start the scoring was nicely placed.  A snap shot at a tight angle.
  • Edson with #100 finally!
  • Who knew Marc Burch had a dead ball shot like that?
  • Watts had a better than expected game at center back.  He was pushed to his limit I think but he managed for the most part.
  • If his hamstring is serious we'll see more of VDC who was....not good.
  • Apparently Buddle also left with a hamstring, maybe more Torres?
  • In the end though this was a perfect example of one team having more talent and being better than the other.  LA took the first half off, then flipped the switch and won the game.
  • The team did look more engaged in this game than they have in the past four, but heart isn't enough.  When you're playing Keane and Donovan with your 3rd and 5th choice CB's you're going to need something amazing to win.
Man of the Match: Edson Buddle.  Congrats on finally getting #100.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chaos And Carpenter Rule Stage 2

Odd day today in the race. Coming down from Kebler Pass (half dirt/half paved) the race was stopped 8K from the line with the time gaps preserved, then restarted from the same spot. There was heavy rain on the course on the decent but the race was stopped when they hit paved road. The report is that the time gaps were taken at the top of the summit but the racers were allowed to descend to the end of the dirt area before the race was stopped and the time gaps from the summit reestablished. However this information was not passed to Phil, Paul, and Christian doing the commentary for NBC Sports. The race organizers tried to get the lead service car in front of the leaders but the racers were going full out not knowing it was neutralized and they weren't able to inform the riders of the neutralization (who don't have radios in this race). Lots of frustration when they stopped the riders but the post-race follow up seems that the race made the right call with possibly some poor execution.

At the summit (and when the riders were stopped) Hincapie's Robin Carpenter had a 45 second lead on a small group which included Teejay, Tommy D, and Alex Howes. After restarting Carpenter extended his lead to 1:20 before the group started pulling him back. Inside the last 2K Teejay and Alex Howes jumped out of the group and tried to track down Carpenter, but it was too little too late. Howes finished 2nd for the 2nd day in a row and takes the yellow jersey for Garmin.

Stage:
1. Robin Carpenter - Hincapie
2. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP ( :07)
3. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC ( :07)

Overall Standings:
1. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP
2. Ben Hermans - BMC ( :11)
3. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC ( :12)

KOM:
1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (23)
2. Robin Carpenter - Hincapie (18)
3. Matt Cooke - Jamis Hagens (14)

Sprint:
1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (21)
2. Danny Summerhill - UHC (13)
3. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP (12)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Tanner Putt - Bissell ( :53)
3. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (1:07)

Team:
1. BMC
2. Garmin-SHARP ( :04)
3. TREK (1:12)

The Beginning Of The Rest Of The Season

This, sadly, may be how we feel tomorrow night

Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy are in town tomorrow night.  This will be (barring a miracle playoff matchup) Landon's last game in Colorado.  Well, unless he pulls a Farve which I expect him to do.  I'm really hoping the Rapids aren't going to play the Denver Broncos to LA's Seattle Seahawks.  I enjoyed being on the winning side of that matchup in February, I don't need to be on the losing side.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  'Celo and Fleming have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (R ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Marlon Hairston (L groin strain); DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca (3 good behavior games left)
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO MORE YELLOWS: MF Carlos Alvarez

LA had one questionable player last week, so they're basically at full strength.  We, clearly, are not.  My guess at our XI with the defensive changes:

At this point we could see anyone out there to mix things up but this is my best guess.  Maybe Torres?  Maybe VDC?  Eloundou? 

Strategic Consideration: Short rest, 4 game losing streak, missing two quality center backs.  I'll be happy if we don't embarrass ourselves.  Its been a long time since I've felt this negative about a Rapids game.

Prediction: 3-0 loss.  Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan against a patchwork defense on short rest.  I'll be shocked if we don't lose by multiple goals.  Maybe the team pulls together after the bad news today but I don't see it happening.

Moor Done For Season, O'Neill Likely Done As Well

The worst possible news today about Moor's knee injury, a torn ACL that ended his season.  Moor has been the most consistent player on the team this year (and for the last couple of years) and there's no good replacement for him.  This is a huge loss that all but ends the season.

To add injury to injury, Chris Bianchi tweeted this today:
Looks like O’Neill’s done. Mastroeni on Shane O’Neill: “My expectations are [that] we won’t see Shane for the rest of the year.” #Rapids96
So that's not great news either.  We're out both our starting center backs for the final 10 games at a time where we're averaging almost 3 goals against over the last 4 games.  When asked about trades or new signings for cover Bravo said this to Bianchi:
Just spoke with Paul Bravo. Team will rely on what they've got- no plans to make a short-term move. #Rapids96
So that leaves our center back depth as:
  • Wynne (converted outside back)
  • Burch (converted outside back)
  • Watts (converted dmid, rookie)
  • Van De Casteele (rookie)
  • Agbossoumonde
Despite that, the team is standing pat.  This after saying they wouldn't be active in the transfer window (when O'Neill was already out injured) but would looked for necessary "difference-makers" in the offseason.

If the fact that we're "relying on what we've got" after all that doesn't say "We're punting until 2015" I don't know what does.