Monday, April 21, 2014

Dirty Punk

The title refers to the Clash song and the E-Quakes, not Piermayr

A whole lot of wasted time this week.  90 minutes, 1 shot on target, combined(!) between the teams.  The Rapids dominated most of the play but had no real threat on goal.  San Jose hit the crossbar in the first minute and then didn't make Irwin make a stop.  Just generally a lousy game.

My strategic consideration was not playing San Jose's physical game.  San Jose tried to out muscle us (seen here at its worst) but the Rapids didn't take the bait for the most part.

Other Observations:
  • Our only shot on goal came from a long shot by Watts in the first half.  Watts!
  • Seriously, there was a close to 5 minute period in the second half where San Jose could barely get the ball out of their own penalty area before the Rapids regained possession and pressed the attack.  In that whole time, 0 shots on goal.
  • In the last 4 games Buddle, Brown, and Torres have a total of 4 shots on goal.  Buddle had one against KC and two in Toronto (including the goal).  Brown had one in Vancouver.  Not good enough from our forwards.
  • That means that watts had as many shots on goal in this game as Brown and Torres have had in the last 4 games combined.
  • Dillon Serna was a charge of dynamite when he came into the game.  He probably deserves to start but I like the energy he brings off the bench.
  • Buddle had some hustle and a few good passes to Brown, but didn't do what he's paid for, score.
  • Neither LaBrocca or Sturgis are doing it for me this year and this game didn't convince me of anything different.
  • Jose Mari being available might have made the difference in this one.  Having to come out and defend his bombs could be what was missing to free up space inside for the forwards.
  • Watts had a solid game until the last 10 minute or so, when he went into complete meltdown.  Far too many poor decisions in those last few minutes.
  • Great to see Klute back, he combined well with Serna.
  • Our corner kicks were HORRIBLE.  10 corners and not one of them resulted in a decent chance on goal.
  • Our free kicks started out decent but by the end of the game Sanchez was floating them far too long.
  • Every Rapids game this season has gone into halftime at 0-0.
  • 11 points in our first 6 games is our best start ever!
Man of the Match: Thomas Piermayr.  Just solid play on the right side and while he was beat a couple of times late, most MLS right backs would have been beat in those scenarios.  I think the Rapids have their right back, finally.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spanish Bombs

The Rapids wouldn't mind some long shots from Jose Mari

Colorado is finally back home tomorrow, facing the San Jose Earthquakes at the Dick.  After missing the last home game its been far too long since I've seen them in person.  San Jose is still looking for their first win this year, while the Rapids have a chance to put up their best ever point total after their first 6 games with at least a draw.  Game time tomorrow is 4pm, with the tailgate starting at 1pm.  If you can't make it, Fleming and Crookham will be calling the game on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Chris Klute (R hamstring strain)

Vicente Sanchez and his wife Paula welcomed Mia Valentina into the world on Wednesday so he will be available tomorrow.  Congrats to the whole family!  Meanwhile San Jose has 5 players out, including the annoying Steven Lenhart, and another 3 questionable.  Pablo has almost a full squad to choose from, so it will be interesting to see who starts.  Here's my guess:

In defense, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  The midfield and attack positions are more of a question mark, but after Sanchez got some rest the last couple of weeks I think we see him back in, and Sturgis seems to fit a bit better on the left than LaBrocca.  If Pablo wants more attack we could see Serna in Sturgis' place.  We may see Chavez if Pablo wants to give him a shot to show his old team what he can do.  Brown worked coming off the bench last week so I think we see the Torres/Buddle pairing again.

Strategic Consideration: Don't get sucked into playing San Jose's physical game.  It feels odd to say that about a Rapids team, but this isn't the same Rapids of a few years ago.  San Jose will try to make the game physical but that works in their favor.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Torres and Buddle.  San Jose is not good and this is a great chance for the Rapids to show they don't play down to their opponent.  Buddle gets #100 at home and Torres finally gets on the score sheet.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rapids Make It Two For Two In Canada

3 points makes even this ugly game look beautiful.  A lousy pitch and both teams missing their most creative midfielders (Sanchez and Bradley) led to a lot of over the top balls and aimless passing.  The Rapids did a good job of adapting and finding a way to win, but neither team is going to look at this game as a particularly good showing.  Credit to Colorado for getting the job done even in less than ideal circumstances.

My strategic consideration was dealing with Michael Bradley.  Turns out we didn't have to as he didn't play but I think Pablo's lineup assumed he would.  4 ball-holding central midfielders was clearly designed to clog the middle and prevent Bradley (had he been there) from doing anything.

Other Observations:
  • Great team play led up to the goal.  Piermayr found Serna with a great cross-field pass, Serna and Buddle both got two touches during the passing, and Powers followed his first heavy touch all the way to the end line to keep the play alive.
  • Serna's assist was the first assist (or goal) in team history by a homegrown player.
  • Brown starting on the bench, but he seemed to find some space when he came on with fresh legs.
  • Though Serna's entry is really what turned the game.  He was dangerous from his first touch.
  • Torres, on the other hand, was quiet.  He also appears to be carrying a few extra pounds, much like Buddle early last year.  Hopefully that's not the cause of his slow start.
  • You would think that the number of poor fields we'er seeing in the league early this season (NY and Toronto for the Rapids, other league games) would cause the talk of a schedule switch to stop, but it won't.
  • Powers had another good game.  Clearly the best player in either team's midfield.
  • Its starting to look like we may have found our back line.  Klute (or Burch until he's healthy) - Moor - O'Neill - Piermayr have worked well together the last two games.
  • 10 points in 5 games ties the Rapids best total after 5 games (2010).  A result this weekend would set a new record through 6 games.
  • Of course in 2010 we lost our 6th game at San Jose, our opponents at home next Saturday...
Man of the Match: Edson Buddle.  In an ugly game where nobody really stood out, the scorer of the game winning goal deserves to be the MOTM.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Colorado Attempts To Do Something They've Never Done

Rapids @BMO, 0 points, 1 trophy

A second trip to the Great White North in a row as the Rapids are in Toronto tomorrow.  Colorado has never even drawn TFC in Toronto, must less beat them, but despite that it is the scene of our greatest triumph as it was there we won MLS Cup 2010.  Tomorrow's game is at 2pm on Altitude, with the main C38 watch party being at The Armoury.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: D Chris Klute (R hamstring strain); D Dillon Serna (L ankle sprain)

M Vicente Sanchez (Wife overdue and could go into labor at any point so he did not travel)

Toronto is hurting, already ruing out DP Jermain Defoe along with 3 others and 4 more players are questionable including DP Michael Bradley who is expected to be a game-time decision.  Tomorrow's lineup is hard to predict as Pablo could do any number of things given the availability of players, but here's my guess:

I think Pablo will go back to the main 4-2-3-1 he's been using this season, with perhaps Sturgis in for LaBrocca.  Piermayr traveled to Austria this week to finalize some of his work visa paperwork, he's supposed to be back for the game but I doubt he starts.  We could see Torres back up front with Hill or Eloundou in midfield as well.

Strategic Consideration: Michael Bradley.  My bet is that he plays, and Jose Mari is going to have his work cut out for him if he does.  So far he appears to be the best player in MLS this year.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Torres.  If Bradley doesn't play we could have a shot at a win, but I feel like a draw is more likely either way.  Torres finally gets on the scoreboard for the season and the Rapids get their first point in Toronto.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Salaries And A Trade

The union released the player salaries today, here are the Rapids.  The first number is the base salary, the second is the guaranteed 2014 salary.  The cap hit number is generally between the two.

Berner John               $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Brown Deshorn         $75,000.00 $123,000.00
Buddle Edson            $325,000.00 $325,000.00
Burch Marc               $85,000.00 $85,000.00
Chavez Marvin           $200,000.00 $200,000.00
Eloundou Charles       $48,825.00 $53,825.00
Griffiths Brenton         $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Hairston Marlon         $70,000.00 $93,000.00
Hill Kamani                $48,825.00 $48,825.00
Irwin Clint                   $75,000.00 $87,000.00
Klute Chris                  $75,000.00 $80,144.10
LaBrocca Nick           $135,000.00 $153,333.33
Mari Jose                    $230,000.00 $261,000.00
Moor Drew                 $235,000.00 $247,000.00
Mullan Brian                $48,500.00 $48,500.00
Mwanga Danny           $130,000.00 $171,250.00
Nasco Joe                   $50,000.00 $52,693.83
O'Neill Shane              $56,250.00 $67,750.00
Piermayr Thomas         $70,008.00 $74,429.56
Powers Dillon               $95,150.00 $127,650.00
Sanchez Vincente         $210,000.00 $286,666.67
Serna Dillon                  $52,500.00 $65,500.00
Sturgis Nathan              $114,000.00 $120,333.33
Torres Gabriel              $250,000.00 $262,500.00
Van de Casteele Grant $48,500.00 $60,000.00
Watts Jared                  $36,500.00 $36,500.00
Wynne Marvell             $200,000.00 $285,000.00

  • Only 3 guys making the league-minimum $36.5K, Berner, Griffiths, and Watts.  No surprise given that they're 2 second round picks and a mid-season depth pickup.
  • Mullan is only at 50K.  Apparently the Rapids have set aside a roster spot if needed each year for a player who's made a big contribution to the club and is transitioning to his post-playing career.  Last year it was Smith, this year its Mullan.  A loud round of applause for the FO for doing this.  #OneClub
  • Buddle + Chavez + Mwanga = 700K who didn't play in last week's win in Vancouver.  I have hopes for Chavez and his 200K but Buddle and Mwanga continue to look like too much salary for not enough production.
  • I'm surprised to see both Sturgis and LaBrocca making over $125K as they both tend to slot into the same spot next to Jose Mari and it will be odd to see them both on the field at the same time.
  • Both Moor and Wynne we re-signed using the league's retention fund so their cap hits aren't as large as these numbers make it look.
  • Last year's RapKids (Brown, Irwin, Klute, Powers) all got deserved raises.
  • Our salary cap hit is somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million dollars, depending on how much of Moor and Wynne aren't counted against our cap.  That gives us some room to play with since the MLS cap is about 3.1 million this year.
  • Because it was of interest, Hendry Thomas is making $180K in Dallas this year.  It appears that he wanted to leave Colorado to be with Pareja and it wasn't really about the money.
Along those lines we have another Pareja acquisition moving to join up with an ex-coach.  Wilmer Cabrera's Chivas USA has traded for the rights to Martin Rivero, giving us a 4th round pick next year in return.  With Powers' Rookie of the Year campaign and Sanchez's addition the pressure to sign him dropped so getting anything for his rights is a good move.  Maybe he'll turn into the DP we all hoped he'd be at Chivas, but it wasn't worth the Rapids investing the time in him when he was passed by Powers.