Thursday, June 13, 2019

Second Verse, Same As The First (Again)

Does this sound familiar?  The Rapids talk about taking the USOC seriously this year, host a match against a lower-league side, got outplayed, lost their cool, and lost.  Its pretty much a Rapids tradition at this point, except for the years when we don't host and lose to a lower-league side.

I could break the game down but why?  Instead just a few things to consider.  If we were really taking this seriously why didn't Tommy Smith, Kellyn Acosta, Sam Nicholson, or Andre Shinyashiki start?  I'm shocked that I'm even saying this, but if Smith starts we likely win that game as he doesn't pick up Sjoberg's dumb double-yellow.  Or if we have more attacking skill we're not defending a one goal lead into stoppage time, only to give it away.  In the end, the Rapids treated this like they always have, as a nuisance.

Some Rapids USOC stats:
  • The Rapids are 9-11 all-time against lower-league competition in the USOC now.  They're 4-7 against MLS competition.
  • The last time the Rapids hosted two USOC games in the same year was 2014 (ending with the infamous Atlanta game).
  • The last time the Rapids played more than two USOC games in the same year was 1999 (ending with the loss in the finals to Rochester).
  • Hat-tip to the Rabbi for this, the Rapids have been eliminated in back-to-back years by lower-league competition three different times.
  • Rochester Raging Rhinos (twice), Chicago Sting, Richmond Kickers, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Minnesota Thunder, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City, Atlanta Silverbacks, Nashville SC, New Mexico United -- The roll call of lower league teams that have beaten the Rapids in USOC play.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Cross-Border Battle In The USOC

Tomorrow we take yet another shot at the U.S. Open Cup, a competition that barring our run to the final in 1999 we've never done well in, and rarely take seriously.  This year our first opponents are the USL expansion side New Mexico United from just across the southern border in Albuquerque.  Last year we went to Nashville and lost to their expansion USL side (without getting a shot on target), lets hope we don't repeat the experience tomorrow at home.  Game time at the Dick is 7pm and season-ticket holders got a chance to get a free ticket while they're $10 for everyone else.  General Admission, west side only, and enter through gate G (next to the team store).  Eighteen76 will be closed for this one.  No radio broadcast but ESPN+ has all the USOC games this year.  No idea who will be on the call.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Kortne Ford; D Deklan Wynne

F Jonathan Lewis - U.S. Nats
D Sam Raben; F Matt Hudley - Cap-tied to Colorado Springs Switchbacks after playing in an earlier round

On top of that official news we've seen some evidence on social media of other players being unlikely to play.  Based on his Instagram account Kei Kamara appears to be on vacation in Athens, Greece while MLS tweeted a video today of Tim Howard's visit to league HQ in New York City.  So its probably a safe bet neither of them will be in the 18 tomorrow.

As always I refuse to make a lineup or score prediction on our Open Cup game, because what the organization says about how seriously they're taking the competition and what they actually do come game time tend to not match up.  I assume we'll see Irwin in goal, guys like Shinyashiki, Vines, and Bassett get lots of playing time, and a couple of senior guys for some leadership but who that is and how they line up is a big question mark.

If the Rapids beat New Mexico, which they should, they would likely play their Round of 16 game next Tuesday/Wednesday before heading to Vancouver to restart the league season post-Gold Cup break.

Monday, June 10, 2019

13 points in 5 games!

For the first time since the early part off the 2016 season the Rapids have 4 wins in 5 games.  With the 5 game being a draw in Philly that's a nice 5 game undefeated streak to go into the break on.  This one was a bit different than our other recent wins, it felt more like the 2016 team which would get a goal and bunker for the 1-0 win.  Colorado only had just under 38% of the possession but actually outshot Minnesota 10-9 (3-2 on target).  A typical Kei goal got him to 8 this season, more than anyone scored last year.  He's on target to be our first player to score more than 10 goals since C+C Goal Factory put up 27 combined goals en route to MLS Cup in 2010 (14 for Cummings, 13 for Casey).

Random Musings:

  • On replay that was probably a foul on Mezquida that waved off his goal.  Keepers get a lot of protection and he went in fast with studs.
  • All credit to Tommy Smith for going from a waste of a roster spot to an adequate MLS CB.  I'm not sure he's worth TAM yet but he's not a liability on the field either.
  • Some (a lot?) of that is due to the play of his defensive partner, Lalas Abubakar.  Its been a while since an in-season pickup has had this much positive effect on the team.
  • I really like Casey making minimal changes to a successful lineup.  Only what was forced (Lewis being away, Rubio and Wynne being injured) by outside circumstances was changed otherwise he's sticking with what's working.  Which is largely "playing players in the positions they're most comfortable with".
  • There isn't a ton to talk about in this game.  Colorado essentially dared Minnesota to beat them and they couldn't.  Every time they got near the box the Rapids would break up t he attack (or often, Minnesota would break it up for them with bad touches and passes).  The couple of times United came close Howard was there for the stop.
  • We have next weekend off before we head to Vancouver in two weeks but between now and then we have one, maybe two, U.S. Open Cup games.  New Mexico is in town on Wednesday and if we beat them we'll likely play pour Round of 16 match the following Tuesday.
Man of the Match: Kei Kamara.  Not only for the goal, where he once again showed he can out jump any two defenders combined but also for his work rate and willingness to defend.  He had a save near the end of the game that most forwards wouldn't have been back for.

Friday, June 7, 2019

One More Game Before The Gold Cup Break

Minnesota Loons...Canada Loonie, same thing right?

Tomorrow is the last league game before the two week Gold Cup break.  Colorado come in riding a 4 game undefeated streak while Minnesota has lost their last two.  Lets see if we can keep those two streaks going.  An odd place for Rapids supporters to be, optimistic!  Game time tomorrow is back at the normal 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  Fleming and 'Celo have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Kortne Ford
QUESTIONABLE: D Deklan Wynne; F Diego Rubio

M Nana Boateng - Family issues in Norway
F Jonathan Lewis - U.S. National Team

The info about Boateng was in today's Backpass in the Denver Post.  That explains why we haven't seen him yet this season.  Given the long break coming up (USOC game aside) I'm guessing we don't see Wynne or Rubio and we let them rest and heal.  Given that:

This seems like the most logical choice for a lineup and I'd be pretty surprised if we saw anything else, barring an unknown injury or something.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Kamara and Shinyashiki.  I think our current form and home advantage will give us enough to put us on top in this one.  Minnesota's offense is as good as ours and their defense is better, but that's heavily weighted by our horrid defense in the first 10 games of the season.  A stable back line has greatly helped balance the team and will see us enter the break on a 5 game undefeated streak.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

U.S. Open Cup 2019

I didn't get to cover this during my busy week last week, but the Rapids found out their Open Cup opponent last week.  They'll host the expansion New Mexico United of the USL Championship.  Lets not get our hopes up about playing a expansion team, we saw how that went last year.  New Mexico is currently the top of the Western Conference and second overall in the Championship, so this will not be an easy match.  The match is next Wednesday at 7pm.  In a very smart move the Rapids have given a free ticket to the match to each season ticket holder, so we may see a decent attendance (relatively speaking) for this one.

Unrelated to all of that, there was a rumor this week that Mexican side Cruz Azul was interested in Diego Rubio.  From the comments it seems this is more talk to appease the fanbase than serious interest, but Diego's brother did play for Cruz Azul in 2007.  If its more than talk and there's an offer that isn't insulting the Rapids would do well to seriously consider it.  Rubio has shown flashes but hasn't settled in as much as some of our other new additions and may end up being extraneous in the long run.