Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rapids sign GK Chris Sharpe

According to Chris Sharpe's blog on Tribal Football he's signed a 1-year contract with the Colorado Rapids. Sharpe trained with the Rapids during the 2008 season while serving as a MLS pool keeper.
  • MLS Pool keepers are goalkeepers that are signed by the league but don't belong to any team. Because of the roster limits and the requirement that teams play a keeper MLS keeps 2-3 extra keepers on contract to fill in in case of emergency due to injuries or suspensions.

Supposedly the Rapids have owned Sharpe's rights since he joined MLS, but he was never signed specifically for the Rapids. Sharpe's blog doesn't make it clear if his new contract is only with the Rapids or if he'll continue being a pool keeper. I've sent him a comment asking for clarification and I'll post an update if I get a response.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiver Draft Results - UPDATE

Soccer by Ives is reporting that Mike Petke was taken by RBNY in the waiver draft and that he was the only player picked in the draft. Still waiting on the full list of players that the Colorado Rapids waived, but Petke becomes the team's first departure of the offseason.

The Rocky Mountain News reports on the Petke move and also than Tim Ward has been waived. I'm assuming since nobody else was reported by the RMN then that's the extent of the list.

Expansion Draft Result

An inside source just informed me that no Rapids were taken in the expansion draft.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weekend Roundup 11/22 - 11/23

Queen of the South - The Doonhamers hosted Clyde at Palmerston Park on Saturday. QoS was on a run of 1 win int he last 5, since the last free weekend, and really needed to turn it around. There was plenty of action but little scoring in the first half. Both teams had their chances, but the post denied Queens and a handball waved off a Clyde goal just before halftime. In the second half Clyde took control of the game while a motionless QoS defense allowed them to score twice, with no answer from the Doohamers offense. That's now 5 losses in 6 games, apparently the Rapids supporters have brought the Rapids luck with them. The only good news is that the teams ahead of them are struggling as well, so even though QoS is in 5th place they are only 6 points off the lead after 15 games.

Blackburn Rovers - The now relegation-battling Rovers travelled to London to face Tottenham. It didn't take long for Spurs to grab the lead, scoring after only 9 minutes. Things didn't get much better when Martin Olsson was sent off in the 38th minute for a 2nd yellow. Spurs would control the game from that point on and while Blackburn would show some flashes, playing a man and a goal down on the road it was never really in the cards for them. Rovers are now 19th in the table, 3 points from safety after 14 games.

CD Tenerife - It was derby weekend in the Canary Islands as Tenerife made the short ferry ride to Las Palmas to take on their rivals. Two to three thousand CDT fans made the trip along with the team, hoping yo see the first road win in Las Palams in a few years. Luck was with them this time as Tenerife struck in the 30th minute to take a 1-0 lead, and then used a great show of goalkeeping to protect the advantage for an hour. CDT returned home with a derby win and a move up to 7th in the table, just 4 points off the lead.

Kildare County FC - As I posted on Friday, Kildare County lost their relegation playoff 5-2 and will be heading to the "A" Championship next season. My coverage of them will probably be spotty at best (For example the "A" Championship doesn't even have a website and County's site hasn't been updated since shortly after Friday's game) so we'll see if I even continue to follow them. That's the end of the season for Kildare, we'll see what happens next.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Expansion Draft - Official List

Here's the list of players the Rapids did not protect for Wednesday's expansion draft. The Rapids can lose 1 player in the draft.:

Burciaga, Jose
Burpo, Preston
Cooke, Terry
Dalby, Greg
DiRaimondo, John
Erpen, Facundo
Grazier, Brian
Harvey, Jordan
Hughes, Justin
Keel, Stephen
Kimura, Kosuke
McManus, Tom
Petke, Mike
Sarkodie, Kwame
Ward, Tim
Zambrano, Cesar

No surprise on Burciaga, Burpo, Dalby, DiRaimondo, Erpen, Grazier, Hughes, Petke, Sarkodie, Ward, or Zambrano.

Harvey and Keel were probably tough choices but a limited number of spots leads to some good players being unprotected.

Tom McManus surprises me, but at the same time I can kind of see the logic. Given that they protected Ballouchy though it seems like they could have swapped those two around.

I would have protected Kimura over Ihemelu without a second thought. Apparently Gary Smith sees more in Ihemelu than I do. I would not be shocked at all to see Seattle take Kimura. They need defense and there's a large Asian population in the Seattle area. Seems like a cheap move for a good PR payoff.

The big one is Terry Cooke. How the h@!! do you leave Terry Cooke unprotected? This only works if the Rapids have already talked to the Sounders and made a deal that means Cooke is somewhat safe. Something like leaving Kimura out there to be taken. Otherwise I see no reason you leave the 3rd best assist man in MLS unprotected while protecting Ballouchy and Peterson. If we lose Cooke it was a dumb, dumb move. Even if we don't lose him I have to wonder how motivated Terry is going to be next season.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Expansion Draft

MLS is holding the expansion draft for the Sounders on Wednesday. The rules are:
  • Each team can protect 11 players
  • Above those 11 players all Generation Adidas players are protected
  • Each team must protect at least 3 internationals, assuming they have 3 on the roster
  • Seattle gets 10 picks and can take no more than 1 player per team

Prior to Toronto's expansion draft the general rule was that you could leave unprotected any position the expansion team had already filled, as they wouldn't want to waste their picks on redundant players. TFC turned that conventional wisdom on its head though, taking whatever players had value and trading them right away for whatever they actually wanted (In one case, Jason Kreis, they traded him back to the team they had drafted him from). Given that the only players who are probably safe to not protect are players with little or no value that are in a position the Sounders have already filled. Here's the list of Rapids I would protect and why:

GA Players - Automatically Protected:

  • Nico Colaluca
  • Ciaran O'Brien
  • Tim Ward

Required 3 International Players:

  • Terry Cooke - He may only have one trick, but he does it better than anyone in MLS
  • Omar Cummings - Good young striker that deserves another year to mature
  • Christian Gomez - He's got too much value to let go for free

8 Other Players:

  • Conor Casey - Our best striker
  • Colin Clark - Young up and comer
  • Bouna Coundoul - If you think you can re-sign him, he's the best keeper we have
  • Cory Gibbs - Solid value, even though he'll probably jump to Europe eventually
  • Kosuke Kimura - Good young defender
  • Nick LaBrocca - A solid utility midfielder
  • Pablo Mastoreni - Duh
  • Tom McManus - I think with a full offseason of rest he could take another step

So there are a couple of players that didn't quite make the cut:

  • Mehdi Ballouchy - Not impressive after a full season
  • John DiRaimondo - Tough call, but there are only limited spots
  • Jordan Harvey - A solid player, but not hard to replace
  • Justin Hughes - No value coming off injury and Seattle has already signed two GK's
  • Ugo Ihemelu - Too many mistakes
  • Stephen Keel - See Jordan Harvey
  • Jacob Peterson - Not worth burning a slot on
  • Mike Petke - Rumored to be retiring, but even if he comes back he's not worth using a slot on

Given this list I expect we'd lose one of Harvey, Ihemelu, Keel, or Petke, as Seattle needs to work on its defense. These four all have potential to be or already are solid MLS players, but you can't protect every decent player.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2009 Competition Changes

Last night Major League Soccer announced the 2009 competition changes. Here's a quick summary and what I think of the changes.

The Reserve Division will be eliminated due to a lack of return on investment

Should have seen this one coming since they reduced the schedule this past season to only be intra-conference. This will hurt the rapids given how many players they've brought up through the reserve team in the last couple of years.

Rosters will be 20 senior players and 4 developmental players

With no reserve division there's no need for reserve players. Two reserve slots get upgraded to senior spots and 4 development slots are eliminated. While the two extra senior spots will help, the loss of 4 reserve players is really going to hurt depth for MLS teams. You have to figure the likes of Brian Graizer, Kwame Sarkodie, and Cesar Zambrano won't make the Rapids next season. Not only that but Generation Adidas players like Tim Ward, Nico Colaluca, and Ciaran O'Brien have to wonder about their futures with the Rapids given how many other developmental players have seen first team time ahead of them.

The season will start early on March 21st to allow MLS to take two FIFA weekends off or to play a limited schedule for 4 FIFA weekends

With the Gold Cup, Confederations Cup, and World Cup Qualifying next year this was a necessity. Plus the shorter the offseason the better!

30 game season. Home-and-home against each of the other 14 teams and 2 intra-conference rivalry games

That means a 3 game Rocky Mountain Cup again next season. I'm guessing the extra game will be in SLC this season since the extra one was at the Dick this year. I bet the other rivalry game will be against Dallas or Seattle (Who, as expected, is being added to the Western Conference).

Playoffs are top 2 from each conference and best 4 remaining teams as wild-cards

Same as 2007. No real change from top 3 each + 2 wildcards, but the games against the eastern teams mean just a bit more with this system.

Top 4 teams to the CONCACAF Champion's League, next 4 teams to the Superliga

The Top 4 teams are both MLS Cup finalists, the Supporter's Shield winner, and the USOC winner. In a case where one team fills two slots then the next highest regular season point total qualifies. This year that's Columbus, RBNY, DC, and Houston (filling Columbus's MLS Cup spot). The next 4 teams for Superliga are New England, Chivas, KC, and Chicago. This is a good move, Houston and New England got beat down with all the games they played this year. Plus FSL got hosed being a playoff team but not in an added competition since DC won the USOC. That's always good to see. ;)

All U.S. based teams will participate in the U.S. Open Cup

Good. The stupid qualification system MLS used the last couple of years made no sense.

Friday, November 21, 2008


The second leg of Kildare County's promotion/relegation playoff against Mervue just ended, and not in the Thoroughbred's favor. On Tuesday they played to a 2-2 draw at Mervue and the expectation was that Kildare would have the advantage playing the second leg at home needing only a win to survive. Well things didn't turn out that way as County crashed to a 3-0 defeat and a home in the 'A' Championship next season. I'm not sure if I will continue to follow Kildare next season. Finding news on them was difficult enough when they were in the first division, and given the lack of information out their about the "A" Championship I'm not sure if I'll even be able to continue to track them. We'll have to see what next season brings.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rapids Shopping Gomez

Completely unsurprising news out of Steven Goff.

No surprise: Colorado is trying to move Christian Gomez and dump his 2009 guaranteed contract of around $400,000. Gomez barely played the final few months of the season under then-interim coach Gary Smith, who clearly doesn't think much of the 2006 MVP. My hunch is that, if they find a suitor, the Rapids will have to continue paying a portion of his salary next year. Colorado already re-signed Pablo Mastroeni to a new deal that approaches designated player range.

So the Rapids are trying to unload a player they traded their DP slot and a first round pick for less than a year after the trade. From the looks of it even if they pull off a trade they'll still have to eat part of the salary. I hate to say I told you so but, I told you so.

The second part of the news, that Pablo is making close to DP money, is more surprising. Pablo made a base salary of 300K last year, and DP money is above 400K. This means that we probably gave a 32 year old defensive midfielder a raise and a 4 year contract. I think Pablo re-signing was a great move, but at that money for that length I wonder if its going to become an albatross around our neck by 2011 and 2012. One possible silver lining is that MLS contracts are usually 2 years guaranteed with a team-held 2-year option. If that's the case then the contract looks much better.

Supporter's Meeting with Plush

For clarification's sake, the opions I express in this post (or any post for that metter) are mine and do not represent Class VI or any of the other supporter's groups.

I don't talk a whole lot about the supporter's groups here at View From the Couch. It's mainly because I like to talk about what happens "between the lines" and the supporter's groups don't fit into that. Along with that they have great websites of their own (see the links on the right) and there's no reason for me to repeat what they're already doing. That said I do see the relationship between the groups and the FO as a important component to a successful franchise, so I took the opportunity to attend last night's meeting between the Colorado Rapids supporters and GM Jeff Plush before the USA - Guatemala game.

The focus of the meeting was on Centennial Firm and N.C.C.'s request to relocate to the North Stands for 2009. This has been a long-term goal of both groups, and the Rapids are trying to work with the groups to see if a move like that meets the Rapids' needs as well. The Rapids are supportive of the idea, but they need to see enough numbers to make it economically viable for them. Right now they average about 670 tickets a game in the North end. If they were to give one side of the North end to the supporters groups they would be giving up 335 tickets. Jeff Plush does not expect the supporters groups to immediately be able to compensate for that, but there needs to be a realistic plan for the future so the Rapids feel like they're making a worthwhile investment. As Jeff Plush put it, he can't "go backwards in this economy".

Of course, the flip side to this is the supporter's group's belief that they can't get their numbers up until they make the move to a more visible location like the North end. So its a bit of a chicken and the egg situation. Either the Rapids will have to take a leap of faith and move the groups with the belief that doing so will eventually pay off, or the supporter's groups will have to commit to ticket sales at a significantly higher level than they are now with the understanding that if they don't sell, the Rapids are not going to be pleased. Determining where that break point is and who will take responsibility for it is the key to moving forward in my opinion.

Outside of that topic there was some general talk about how the team was feeling about 2009. Everyone in the organization seems to be excited about the Gary Smith decision and what he wants to do with the team. There were even comments that the detractors of the decision (of which I am one, at least of how the decision was made) really don't have a good feel for what's happening. There was understanding of the long years of frustration, but also of the fact that most of those years weren't under control of the current leadership. There was even some talk about the difficulties between what the team wants to do in the stadium and what the stadium wants to have happen. Since the stadium is run by a separate KSE entity from the Rapids there's ongoing discussions and debate about what the Rapids want vs. what the stadium operators want.

In general I thought the meeting was more informative for what it was than what was said. It was the first time I had a chance to see Jeff Plush interacting with the supporters and the first supporters meeting I've seen. There were a few things that I thought could improve the effectiveness of the meeting. First of all there was no real agenda. The general topic was set but nobody had a real list of points to cover or what needed to be accomplished in the meeting. It was a good chance to pass information back and forth, but no real decisions were made.

The second was that there were too many voices in the meeting. There were 6 representatives from the Rapids and 11 fan representatives. While not everyone talked there were still too many people working at cross-purposes. Even though I was there somewhat representing Class VI, along with another Class VI rep, there really wasn't anything involving Class VI. We were there for moral support only. What would probably work better would be a meeting with 2-3 Rapids FO personnel and no more than 2 reps from each supporters group, if even every group needs to be there. This would allow for focused discussion without a lot of sidetracking as more voices were added to the mix. It would also force everyone involved to figure out their points ahead of time as each group determine what their representatives need to cover.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weekend Roundup 11/15 - 11/16

Queen of the South - My team travelled to Dundee on Saturday hoping for a change of pace after two straight defeats. The first half saw plenty of action, with both sides having chances they should have converted and Dundee even hitting the crossbar at one point. Despite the aggressive play the teams went into the locker rooms scoreless. The deadlock about midway through the second half when Dundee scored on a free kick from just outside the box. QoS attacked for 15 minutes to find the equalizer, but it was Dundee who would score again on a counter-attack. After that the game was for all purposes over, and Queens headed back to Dundee with 4 losses in the last 5 games. The side has dropped them to 4th in the table, 6 points behind leaders St. Johnstone.

Blackburn Rovers - After defeating Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in midweek Cup action Rovers hosted them at Ewood Park for a league match. The teams still had some pent up hostility from the midweek match and 4 yellow cards (3 for Sunderland) were shown in the first 40 minutes. Then just on the end of the first half Rovers went up and carried the lead to the locker room. The second half continued the hostility, with another 3 cards (2 for Rovers). Unfortunately Blackburn couldn't hold their lead and gave up a goal less than 5 minutes into the half. Sunderland would score again in the 71st minute and, in a reversal of the midweek scoreline, go home with a 2-1 victory. Blackburn is now in serious trouble, sitting in the last relegation spot, due to goal differential, after 13 games.

CD Tenerife - Both teams decided to take most of this match off. Real Sociedad is one of the best road teams in the Segunda, but neither team could find the back of the net. In the 86th minute Bertran scored what appeared to be the game winner for CDT, only for the team to concede a goal from a corner immediately afterwards. Tenerife let 2 points get away this week, and because of it they fall to 8th in the table, 7 points behind the leaders.

Kildare County FC - Kildare faced Dundalk in their final match of the season. Kildare was already facing a playoff to stay in the first division, while Dundalk needed a win to clinch the championship. The difference in the two teams showed as Dundalk outclassed County in every way, walking away with a 6-1 victory and the Irish First Division championship. Kildare County has just kicked off against Mervue in the first leg of the 2-leg playoff with the second leg on Friday. I will update the scorelines on the right side as results become available.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Plush To Hold Open Supporters Meeting on Wed.

Before USA-Guatemala on Wednesday General Manager Jeff Plush will have an open meeting with Supporters at 5pm. It will be 30 minutes in length and the primary focus is on the idea that the Section 100 Supporters Groups (Centennial Firm and NCC) move to the North Grandstands. RSVP with Marcus Myrick at if you wish to attend.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

National Team Roster

Bob Bradley announced the roster for Wednesday's game against Guatemala at The Dick.

Three Colorado Rapids make the final roster. As expected Pablo Mastroeni is the experienced veteran in the midfield. Cory Gibbs gets another look at the National Team after a long injury-forced absence. The surprise is probably Conor Casey, who gets rewarded for his double-digit scoring in MLS this season with a callup.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)

Kickoff is at 6pm on Wednesday, tailgating starts at 3pm.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My team is now MY team

A while back I talked about having bought a membership in MyFC and how I was not impressed with how it worked out. I decided not to renew my membership but I was still interested in being an "owner" of a European side. I remembered that Queen of the South, before its website update, listed information about purchasing shares in the club. After many emails back and forth I found out that they sold them in groups of 10.

Not having 150 pounds (About $221 at today's exchange rate) to spend on a block of shares I talked to other Colorado rapids fans about investing. There were others who had invested in MyFC and were similarly disillusioned. Eventually we got a group of 7 people who were interested in a total of 10 shares, or 1 block. This morning I called the club in Dumfries and purchased one block of shares under the name Colorado Rapids Supporters. Queen of the South is now really MY team, as much as 2 shares makes it my team at least.

So don't be surprised if you start seeing more talk about Queen of the South here at View From the Couch. The Rapids will always be the main topic, but this gives me something to talk about during the offseason.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weekend Roundup 11/8 - 11/9

Queen of the South - Queens hosted Morton and former Queens favorite Peter Weatherson at Palmerston this weekend. It appears that Weatherson liked his return as he scored the first goal after 20 minutes. Morton would double the lead before heading to the locker rooms at half. The Doonhamers came out in the second half on fire, quickly getting a goal and controlling the play but Morton put the final nail in the coffin on a counter-attack, then added insult to injury with a fourth before the end. QoS fell for the first time at home this season and with the loss dropped to 4th int he table, 5 points behind leaders St. Johnstone.

Blackburn Rovers - League challengers Chelsea came to Ewood Park on Sunday and walked away with the league lead. Chelsea clearly controlled the play and Anelka scored in each half to claim an easy win for the London based squad. Midweek Blackburn took on Sunderland in the Carling Cup Round of 16 and battled their way to a 2-1 victory, putting them into the quarter-finals. All 3 goals were scored within about 7 minutes of the second half. Roque Santa Cruz scored on 63 minutes with his first touch of the game. 5 minutes later a Matt Derbyshire cross was directed into the back of the net for a Sunderland own goal. Right off the ensuing kickoff Sunderland got their goal, leaving a tense final 20 minutes as Rovers hung on. Blackburn is now down to 15th in the table, just 1 point from the relegation zone after 12 games.

CD Tenerife - Tenerife travelled to recently-relegated Levante on Saturday. With a chance to move up into the promotion spots CDT allowed tow defensive lapses to determine the outcome of a game they controlled. They lost 2-1, continuing a tradition of less-than-stellar road performances. With the loss CDT dropped to 7th in the table, 7 points behind the leaders after 11 games.

Kildare County FC - County travelled to Limerick in what was a meaningless game for them, having already been assured of facing a playoff to avoid relegation. Limerick and Dundalk (who Kildare finishes the season with next week) are fighting for the title and promotion to the Premier Division. A surprise then that the Thoroughbreds got the win on the road. After controlling the run of play Kildare allowed Limerick to score late int he first half and went into the locker rooms down 1-0. In the second half County again controlled the play and made Limerick pay with two goals in two minutes. A positive result for a team facing must-win games. Their opponents in the playoffs have been determined, they will face Mervue United in a two-leg playoff, away on Nov. 18th and home on Nov. 21st. The winner will take the last spot in the First Division, while the loser will be in the third-tier 'A' Championship.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No coaching "search" done

The Denver Post reports that the Rapids signed Smith to a 3-year deal and Pablo to a 4-year deal. Guppy's contract is still being finalized. They also say that Jeff Plush told them that he didn't interview any other candidates for the coaching position.

Same old Rapids, taking the quick and easy way out. Gary Smith may be the guy, I have hope he will be. If the Rapids had done a full coaching search though, talking to the likes of John Spencer, Robin Fraser, and Paul Mariner (for example), and then settled on Gary Smith I'd feel better about it. They put all their eggs in one basket and they're either going to look like geniuses or fools. Given their track record I'm afraid its going to be fools.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Smith and Pablo

OK, first the news, then the commentary.

As expected the Colorado Rapids named Gary Smith the new head coach today. Terms were not released but the rumor is that it was a 3 year deal. I didn't see the press release until later, but there's some talk that the Steve Guppy hiring was also announced in the press release, then pulled.

Unexpectedly the Rapids also announced the re-signing of team captain Pablo Mastroeni. Pablo was expected to try to move to Europe this offseason, but apparently "Wanting to go to Europe" was just code for "Not wanting to play for Clavijo anymore". Again, terms of the contract were not revealed.

First thing's first. Re-signing Pablo was a great move by the team, and barring a huge surprise I'm betting it will be the best move of the offseason. It locks down the center of the field, gives us veteran leadership and continuity, and allows the Rapids to focus on what to do with Gomez and the central defense.

I think Smith is a safe choice for coach. He's in the system, Plush knows him, he's worked with the players, etc. Given the speed of the signing though I wonder how much time the Rapids spent looking at other candidates. Some of the top names, Mariner, Spencer, and Fraser, are all working for teams that are either still in the playoffs or were eliminated this past weekend. That doesn't rule out the possibility that they talked with the Rapids, but there isn't a while lot of time to do a long interview process with those coaches are involved preparing their teams for the playoffs. It just makes me wonder if the Rapids took the easy way out or if they really took a serious look at somebody other than Smith.

Lastly the Rapids once again botched a major announcement. Steve Guppy spilled the beans last week about the Gary Smith signing, helped on by the Rhinos and "other sources" according to the Post and Soccer America. While I expect that the likes of Steven Goff and Ives Galarcep will break the news a day or two early, its different when a random article from the Rochester Rhinos breaks the news 6 days early. That was then followed by fans talking about the Smith-Guppy pairing as the Rapids coaching staff, and anonymous sources saying that we were "assuming too much" or that those deals hadn't happened yet. Then today they announce Smith (and possibly Guppy) as the coaching staff.

So how exactly were the fans assuming too much about deals that hadn't happened yet? OK, maybe pen hadn't been put to paper, but its pretty obvious that a verbal deal had been worked out. Stuff like this just makes it look like either the Rapids are incompetent at handling the press, or they just don't care. Really, you can't tell your new assistant coach to shut up for a week and not go on a NY radio show?

National Team Training Camp List

Busy day for View From the Couch. Steven Goff just posted the training camp list for the Nats camp in Denver next week. Now the roster for the qualifier next Wednesday will be a modified version of this, so there will be other players added, but it gives us a good idea of what we're likely to see.

Young, young, young. Not a surprise since the U.S. has nothing to play for having already qualified for the hex, while Guatemala has to win and get help. A good environment to expose some new faces to. The Colorado Rapids will have five players in camp; Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark, Nick LaBrocca, Cory Gibbs, and Conor Casey. Its not a surprise for the local team to be well represented in camp, its a convenient source of players for training. The interesting thing will be to see how many players make the game roster. My prediction is 3, Pablo, Gibbs, and either Casey. Maybe Clark. I'm sure LaBrocca is just there for training.

Soccer America confirms Smith as coach

Still no official word from the Rapids about the press conference or the next coach but Soccer America is running with the story. They confirm the Smith-Guppy coaching pair and mention that Plush has talked to at least two current MLS assistant coaches about the Technical Director/General Manager position.

UPDATE: After an email query to the Rapids press office I got official confirmation of today's press conference at 1pm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Coaching Announcement - 1pm Tuesday

News is circulating that the Colorado Rapids have called a press conference to announce the new head coach at 1pm tomorrow at DSG Park. I'll update with a link to the announcement if/when I find one.

Of course at 1pm tomorrow I'll be heading to the bus to go to the dentist, so reaction here will be delayed until I get the dentist's fingers out of my mouth...

Coaching Update

The Denver Post is reporting that Gary Smith has been signed to a 3 year deal with Steve Guppy as his assistant. This is based on comments that Guppy made on a NY radio show this weekend and an interview with the current Rochester Rhinos coach. The Rapids only comment is from Jeff Plush, who states that the rapids have 0 coaches under contract at the current time.

Along with the coaching comments Steve Guppy says he wants to bring Irish winger Danny Earls with him form Rochester to Colorado. Earls can play left back or left mid, so some competition for Harvey and Clark. At 19-years old he may not be ready to start right away, but building up our youth never hurt. Earls played for the Aston Villa Reserves before moving to Rochester, and on July 29th was named USL-1 Player of the Week.

UPDATE: An anonymous source has told me the coaching situation should be official by the end of the week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

If somebody comments on the Rapids and the FO doesn't respond, did it really happen?

On Wednesday the Rhinos released a statement saying that Steve Guppy was leaving the team to join the Rapids as assistant coach and help Gary Smith. As this was obviously significant Rapids news I wrote a post about it, as did Bonji at Class VI. We both believed that the press release and the information contained in it meant that it was likely the Rapids had chosen Smith as the next head coach.

Since then we have both received comments in private from the Rapids Front Office saying that we're assuming things or that the we don't know the full story, etc. While that might be the case, the problem is that the Rhinos and Guppy are the only ones talking in public. The press release stated that Guppy will be joining Smith with the Rapids. Given that its not assumptions on our part, its going with the facts that we know.

This is hardly the first time that a rumor about the Rapids has been circulating, and instead of making a formal statement about it all we see is comments from well-connected fans saying they've heard the rumor is wrong. Very often these comments come from people in the Front Office that, at least from their job titles, aren't involved with the rumor. The comments are always somewhat cloudy, with things only half said.

It appears the the Rapids and/or KSE do not want people talking about the Rapids or their off-season news. They prefer that everyone go follow the Avalanche and Nuggets and ignore whatever the Rapids must be doing. This is misguided at best, and stupid at worst. You want your fans following the team in the off-season, you want to keep the team in the news, you want people thinking about buying tickets and merchandise. The two most followed leagues in this country, NFL and MLB, have figured this out and welcomed it. MLB has the whole Hot Stove League that's been built up around its offseason. The NFL has made an event out of the Draft, not to mention unending minicamps and workouts.

The cynic in me says the reason that KSE doesn't want anyone following the Rapids offseason news is that they don't want the lack of news to be noticed. Last offseason they refused to even discuss the terms of the Gomez trade, even to the point that they've still never officially stated what they traded for Gomez though everyone can see that suddenly DC has two DP slots. The die-hard fans know the Rapids have a great deal to do this offseason. They need to get the coaching situation settled, deal with out of contract players like Pablo and Bouna, and figure out what they're going to do about Christian Gomez. If KSE doesn't have a plan then the less attention paid to the Rapids the better for KSE.

Fan relations have never been a strong suit for the Rapids either under AEG or KSE. While there are individuals in the Front Office who go out of their way to try to work with the supporters there's never been a coherent strategy for fan-team relations. The ongoing silence out of the Front Office about any news story of interest is just one more indication that KSE is not focused on, and quite possibly not interested in, making the Rapids a top-notch MLS organization.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Assistant Coach Steve Guppy = Head Coach Gary Smith

The Rochester Rhinos have announced that player/assistant coach Steve Guppy is leaving the team and joining the Rapids as an assistant coach in January.

Guppy has a long history of 17 years playing in England and Scotland, spending time with Southampton, Wycombe, Newcastle, Port Vale, Leicester City, Celtic, Leeds, and Stoke City. He then played with DC before a brief stop back in England before joining Rochester. One of the first EPL tams I followed was Leicester City when Kasey Keller was there, which coincided with Guppy's time at left wing with the club. Guppy followed Martin O'Neil to Celtic in 2001.

The big part of this news is that it almost assuredly means that Gary Smith has been given the Head Coach position. If the Rapids are already signing Assistant Coaches they probably have figured out who the head coach is going to be. Given that to the best of our knowledge the Rapids haven't talked to anyone, and Steve Guppy is a long time friend of Smith and a fellow Englishman, the logical conclusion is that Smith has been given the job. I bet the Rhinos jumped the gun on the announcement and the Rapids are planning an official announcement between now and MLS Cup.

Weekend Roundup 11/1 - 11/2

Sorry for the delay, too busy following the election

We drop the Rapids from the Roundup this week, we'll pick them up again come March.

Queen of the South - QoS had their second straight road game, this time at Partick Thistle. Things did not go as well as they did in Dingwall last week. The Doonhamers were fairly disorganized at times in the first half, and it eventually cost them as on the stroke of halftime Thistle scored to take a 1-0 lead. After the break Queen's captain Jim Thomson picked up yellow cards in the 50th and 80th minute, leaving QoS shorthanded. Partick took advantage, getting a penalty called late and taking the game 2-0. With the loss QoS drops to 2nd in the table, 2 points behind St. Johnstone at the 1/3rd mark of the season.

Blackburn Rovers - An up and down game for Rovers this week as they travelled to WBA. Benni McCarthy staked Blackburn to an early lead from the spot, only to be sent off for a weak handball call and second yellow in the 36th minute. In the 10 minutes after half time WBA scored twice to take the lead. Blackburn never gave up though, and in the 89th minute Keith Andrews scored his first goal for Rovers to rescue a point. Its now been 5 games without a win, dropping Blackburn to 13th in the table after 11 games.

CD Tenerife - CDT hosted Rayo Vallecano, former home of USMNT star Kasey Keller, and fellow promotion challenger. Tenerife became third one of my teams this week to lose a player due to questionable double yellows, but they didn't let it stop them. A convincing 2-0 win at home for CDT puts them right back into the promotion race. This was also the 50th appearance of Juan Francisco Martínez Modesto, better known as Nino, for Tenerife. With the win CDT jump up to 6th in the table, 4 points behind leaders Hercules after 10 games.

Kildare County FC - Things just keep getting worse for County. They were forced to play 2 games in 3 days in order to make up for one of the postponed games from earlier in the season. A 2-1 loss and a 3-3 draw wasn't what they needed to salvage the season. In the 3-3 draw County had a player, you guessed it, sent off for a second yellow, though this one seems to be more deserved than the ones for the other teams. With the single point in the two games they are not assured of facing a playoff to stay in the lowest league of professional football in Ireland. They have 2 games left to figure out what they need to do, then the 2-leg playoff to try to survive and come back next year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thanks to the Rapids Ticket Office

As part of my ongoing goal to not paint the whole Rapids FO with the same brush when I get frustrated at a soccer-related decision I wanted to give my thanks to the Rapids Ticket Office, specifically Marcus Myrick and Abbey Gettler.

Marcus has been my long-time contact in the ticket office. He's always set me up with tickets and gone out of his way to make sure I got what I needed. It wasn't the easiest year for me, being laid off right after I got to Colorado, so I didn't buy the season ticket I was thinking about and I had a lot of last minute decisions to attend games based on $$$ until I got my new job at PaySimple figured out. Marcus was always responsive to last minute requests for Class VI tickets, and I probably took more of his time than I really should have in asking him questions about sell-outs and such.

Marcus and Abbey worked together on my season ticket renewal for 2009. I'm not in a position to buy a ticket right now, but expect to be after the holidays. I was willing just to let my seat go (Its not like we're real picky about sitting in our seats in Class VI) and buy a ticket to the USMNT game on my own. Instead Marcus decided to trust that I would buy a ticket and Abbey applied my unused playoff ticket (Damn you FaKe SaLt LaKe!) as my deposit and provided me with a USMNT ticket. It would have been easy for them to have let me go knowing I'd be back next season anyway and made some more money off of me by selling me a USMNT ticket, but instead they found a way to make it work for both the Rapids and me.

I come down on the Rapids FO a lot, and justifiably most of the time. From a soccer perspective there's a lot of work to be done to get the Rapids into a team that can challenge for the title. That doesn't mean that other parts of the organization aren't getting the job done though, and sometimes we as fans need to recognize that there are people in the FO getting the job done to make the game-day experience the best it can be for what they control.