Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rapids News and Notes

With the excitement of the Rocky Mountain Cup and ESPN2 game there were a few announcements over the last week that should be highlighted.

Bouna Time! Leaves for Senegal
Bouna leaves for Senegal's World Cup Qualifiers this week. He'll be gone for at least the next 5 league games, plus the two U.S. Open Cup matches. His backup, Justin Hughes, is still fighting a groin strain and according to Clavijo he won't be ready until mid-June. Until then we're going with MLS 'pool' keeper Chris Sharpe. Sharpe spent training camp with the Rapids, after spending last year rehabbing from a broken leg in Denver last year. The Rapids own his rights but he's signed as a pool keeper, available to anyone in the league who's short a keeper.

This is obviously a significant loss for the Rapids. While Bouna can turn crosses into "Adventures in Goalkeeping" at times, and his habit of going walkabout can make for some...interesting...plays, he's one of the best shot stoppers in MLS, and has become one of the leaders of the Rapids. Replacing him with a player that has had 0 minutes of MLS playing time could lead to some confusion in the back. It will be up to Erpen and Ihemelu to keep the defense organized and keep the pressure off Sharpe as he settles in.

The Dick to host a World Cup Qualifier in November
This is great news. The U.S. (assuming they beat Barbados) will play the winner of the Guatemala/St. Lucia series on November 19th at The Dick. This is the final game of the semi-final qualifying round. The top two in the four team group (Expected to be the U.S., Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guatemala) move on to the final round of qualifying. No details on tickets yet, but they'll go fast once announced.

Rapids play Rapids U-23 in Boulder tonight
The Rapids will face their U-23 team in Boulder tonight. This is part of a annual series where the Rapids play the U-23's a couple times a year in Boulder. The game is at 5:30pm and tickets are $10.

Rapids face LA, KC to get to the U.S. Open Cup
With the new "qualifying" system MLS instituted last year the Rapids have to play two MLS sides before actually entering the U.S. Open Cup. The first game will be in LA on May 27th, with the winner to play in KC on June 4th. The winner of the June 4th will enter the USOC proper. The good news for the Rapids is the game in LA is the night before the U.S. plays England in England, so David Beckham and Landon Donovan will not be available, but we may lose Pablo Mastroeni as well. The second game at KC, should we win, will be tougher, but we have the advantage of having plenty of players with experience this season, while KC will probably have to call on reserves that have seen little or no playing time. Besides the honor of winning the Lamar Hunt trophy the USOC winners also get a berth in the new CONCACAF Champions League.

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