Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rapids Salary Info - 2010

Lost in our obsession over the World Cup was the MLS Players Union release of the list of 2010 salaries. Its current as of the roster freeze date on June 14th.

These salaries are post-CBA, so they're guaranteed for the season already and the minimum is about $40K.

Here's the list of the current Colorado salaries. The first number is their base salary, the second number is their guaranteed salary for 2010 which includes things like the signing bonuses and such spread over the length of the contract. For comparison, the 2008 numbers are here and the 2009 numbers are here.

Ballouchy Mehdi M $ 88,800.00 $ 88,800.00
Baudet Julien D $ 168,000.00 $ 181,750.00
Casey Conor F $ 350,000.00 $ 350,000.00
Ceus Steward GK $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
Clark Colin M $ 89,250.00 $ 94,250.00
Cummings Omar F $ 71,500.00 $ 80,250.00
Earls Danny D-M $ 40,000.00 $ 41,250.00
Holody Mike D $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
Joyce Ian GK $ 54,000.00 $ 54,000.00
Kimura Kosuke D $ 57,750.00 $ 57,750.00
Labauex Ross M $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
Larentowicz Jeff D $ 150,000.00 $ 150,000.00
Lopez Claudio F $ 120,000.00 $ 120,000.00
Mastroeni Pablo M-D $ 255,000.00 $ 300,500.00
Moor Drew D $ 145,200.00 $ 162,388.89
Murillo Oscar D $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
O'Brien Ciaran M $ 75,000.00 $ 108,750.00*
Palguta Scott D $ 57,750.00 $ 57,750.00
Pickens Matt GK $ 135,000.00 $ 137,500.00
Schunk Ross F $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
Smith Jamie M $ 172,800.00 $ 182,800.00
Thompson Wells M $ 40,000.00 $ 40,000.00
Wynne Marvell D $ 66,500.00 $ 171,750.00

* = Generation Adidas player that does not count against the salary cap, only the roster limit

Cummings continues to be one of the best steals in MLS. Casey, along with Brian Ching, is the highest paid non-DP player in the league. Claudio Lopez is getting 120K to do essentially nothing so far. Jamie Smith is finally starting to earn his paycheck, but he's got a way to go to justify the 182K he's getting this year. Ballouchy actually took a salary cut, maybe that explains his better play this season.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rapids Shake Off Rust, Find A Point

The Rapids got back into the swing of things in Houston. Much like the U.S. team the Rapids went down early and battled back to get a result. All the players showed rust from their down time and it became a matter of which team could get the gears turning first.

The Rapids started out slowly, and Houston made them pay with a 30-yard bomb off a corner kick from Danny Cruz. Casey made a poor attempt to stop it and Pickens was rooted to his spot. He may have been shielded but I think he could have done better. Right at halftime the Rapids leveled the score. A bad touch by defender Eddie Robinson allowed Ballouchy to steal the ball and run at goal. He dumped it to Casey, who with a nice step-over and some good footwork got Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad to go to ground, giving Casey the opportunity to line up his shot on an open net.

The second half was an end-to-end affair. The Rapids finally broke the deadlock off a Jamie Smith corner. Cummings pressed to get to the ball and forced Palmer to play it off his thigh for an own goal and a 2-1 lead. The Dynamo didn't go away though, almost tying it right back up off another Cruz bomb that deflected off of both posts before spinning back out into the field of play to be cleared Eventually some Keystone Kops defending left Ngwenya open at the penalty spot to put home the tying goal. Both teams had another couple of chances but couldn't find a winner.

My key to the game was which team could turn back on the fastest. Well neither one really did. Lots of sloppy play, especially late, and mistimed passes. Not a surprise coming off a break but something that needs to be fixed quickly.

Other Observations:
  • Our 4+ year record of not winning when giving up the first goal continues, sadly.
  • Jeff Larentowicz has to take most of the blame on the second Dynamo goal. He misplayed the ball starting the break, then got into a shoving match instead of tracking back, and it was the hole he was supposed to fill that Ngwenya found space in.
  • The Rapids had a great shot at their first goal when a simple forward pass would have put Cummings in 1v1 on Onstand. Showing the rust Casey completely overcooked it giving Omar no play.
  • Cummings tired quickly late. In his last few minutes his only plan seemed to be go at goal and fall down when touched, hoping to get a call.
  • I'm a big Colin Clark fan, but I can't blame G.Smith for starting J.Smith. Clark is not back to 100% yet and J.Smith has not gotten an assist in the last 3 games.
  • We need our backline to get healthy. The 4 we have are doing the job but we need the size of Baudet and the option of Kimura.
  • Great to get a point on the road, but it hurts knowing we were close to 3.
Player of the Game: Mehdi Ballouchy. He had the assist on the first goal and was making dangerous runs all night. The 4-5-1 may not be the ideal formation for all of our players, but it seems to be what Ballouchy has been looking for.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rapids Try To Short Out Dynamo

The MLS season gets re-started again tonight after the break for the World Cup group stage. American soccer fans are riding a high right n ow with Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria that put the U.S. into this afternoon's Round of 16 game against Ghana. Let's hope we can keep the ride going with a spot in the quarterfinals. After today's game the Rapids are in Houston tonight. Game time is 6:30pm and the game is on KWGN.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Julien Baudet (L knee strain); MF Ciaran O'Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear); PROBABLE: DF Kosuke Kimura (L ankle stress fracture)

Discipline Report:

Houston is fairly healthy, with only one player listed out. The Rapids injury report is almost a week old and reports from training say that Baudet is looking better. My guess at the lineup:

Wynne - Moor - Palguta - Earls
Larentowicz - Pablo
Cummings - Ballouchy - Clark

I'm betting that Smith leaves Baudet on the bench to heal for one more week, but otherwise sticks with the 4-5-1 he used during our 4-game undefeated streak before the break. This also gives him the ability to bring Julian in off the bench should we need help late..

Key To Look For: Which team can turn things back on. This was an odd two week break for the league and it almost feels like we're starting the season over. The team that can get back into its groove the quickest will have success tonight.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Conor Casey. This is a matchup of the two MLS strikers who thought they were going to South Africa, Casey and Ching. I think they both take inspiration from the U.S. and get on the scoreboard. With the break neither team will be hitting on all cylinders and the Rapids can get a point on the road.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lets Light This Candle

The World Cup is here! Tomorrow we attempt to re-create the 'Shot Heard Round The World' as the U.S. plays England at 12:30 MDT. Rather than get buried by the numerous blogs pontificating over the World Cup I'll probably just let my blog go quiet for the next couple of weeks until the Rapids start up again. If something particular noteworthy happens in the World Cup or if the Rapids have some news I'm sure I'll have something to say though. Until then...

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rapids Burn Fire For A Point

The Rapids played their worst game in about two months and still got away with a point last night. The game started on a down note as Julian Baudet was injured in a non-contact injury just 2 minutes into the game and replaced by Scott Palguta. There was only one bright note in the first half, Omar Cummings great strike from about 16 yards to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead. It was set up by a series of passes from Ballouchy and Casey. Other than that the Rapids looked awful, and gave up the tying goal within 5 minutes on yet another free kick. A dumb foul by Drew Moor just outside the box gave them an opportunity, and Ballouchy pulled a DeGuzman by jumping out of the wall and giving the ball the hole it needed to beat Pickens on the near post. right before half the constant pressure from the fire paid off again as Pappa was somehow unmarked int he box and took advantage of a rebound to give the Fire a 2-1 halftime lead.

Gary Smith made an adjustment at halftime, inserting Wells Thompson for Ross LaBauex and switching back to more of a 4-4-2. The team played better in this half, and the game turned into a balanced affair between the teams. Around the 70th minute the Fire started pulling back into a shell to preserve their lead and the Rapids were quick to take advantage. Colorado had multiple chances, including a volley from Casey off an Earls cross and another Omar Cummings shot that should have gone in, but managed to find the eighth of an inch of the inside of the far post that would deflect the ball out of the goal. Jamie Smith was inserted late and once again the substitution would pay off. 1 minute into stoppage time Smith cut inside, launched a good cross tot he far post, and Casey got free of his man to head home the tying goal. If Casey had missed, Drew Moor was waiting unmarked to clean up. The Rapids were lucky to get the draw, but sometimes its better to be lucky than good.

My key to the game was midfield control, something the Rapids lacked all game. Marco Pappa had free run of the midfield, and scored a brace. The Rapids really missed Pablo last night.

Other Observations:
  • The second fire goal was the first legit goal the Rapids game up from the run of play this season. The only other one was the goal in San Jose, which after further review was offside.
  • The Rapids are 1 point off the "win at home, draw on the road" maxim going into the break.
  • Back to back games Jamie Smith served up a late-goal scoring cross. Maybe he should be playing more?
  • Ross LaBauex, ouch. He needs more time before starting again.
  • Pablo was really missed last night. There was no stopper in midfield. Neither LaBauex or Larentowictz look ready to step into his shoes.
  • Great goal and assist by Casey, but he also failed to get a number of good feeds on goal.
  • Danny Earls got burned badly last night. He really needs to get his game back.
  • Hopefully the 18 day break will allow Baudet to fully heal. Palguta did a good job coming on unexpectedly, but the defense really needs a leader back there.
Player of the Game: Matt Pickens. He had 2 or 3 huge reaction saves that kept the Rapids close enough to steal a point. Omar Cummings, with a goal and another couple of dangerous shots, was a close second.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One More Stop Before Focusing On South Africa

While the world's attention shifts to South Africa there's still one more game for the Rapids before then. Colorado is in Chicago for their rescheduled game from May 22nd. Game time tomorrow is 7pm MDT. There is no TV for this match due to the rescheduling. It can only be seen in Denver via Direct Kick and MatchDay Live. I talked to Jeff Plush yesterday and he got the blackout restrictions for MatchDay Live lifted int he Denver market for all Rapids games. Hopefully the techs at NeuLion actually made the changes correctly.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Kosuke Kimura (L ankle stress fracture); MF Ciaran O'Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear); PROBABLE: DF Julien Baudet (L knee strain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain)

Discipline Report:
SUSPENDED: Pablo Mastroeni (Red card vs. Crew)

The Fire's injury and discipline report hasn't been updated yet so I'm not sure what their status is. Obviously Pablo being out will cause a shuffling for Gary Smith. My best guess:

Wynne - Moor - Baudet - Earls
Thompson - Ballouchy - Clark
Cummings - Casey

I think Smith goes back to the 4-4-2 we started the season with instead of trying to fill Pablo's role with LaBauex. Thompson seems to be the most likely person to take the right mid spot, but it could be Smith.

Key To Look For: Midfield control. The Fire play a 4-5-1, and we saw earlier this season the Rapids 4-man midfield struggled to link the defense and the attack. Having Cummings back up front should increase our scoring chances, but only if we can get the ball to them.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Omar Cummings. I think Omar will take advantage of being returned to the front line, but the reduction in possession by returning to a 4-man midfield will let Chicago generate more scoring chances. Eventually one breaks through, maybe by McBride on the eve of the World Cup.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who Could Ask For Anything Moor?

The Rapids pulled out a big win on Saturday night, beating the second best team in the league while down a man. Drew Moor had the game winner int he last 10 minutes after a contentious second half led to a red card for Pablo Mastroeni,

I don't have much to say about the first half. Unfortunately my office texted me with a website issue right as the game started and I spent a good chunk of the first half texting people about it, in between watching snippets of the game. What I saw looked like the Rapids controlled much of the play, but couldn't generate great chances.

In the second half Colorado continued to pressure the Crew, taking advantage of the altitude against a team who had already played this week. The game changed in the 76th minute after Mastroeni saw red (more on this below) and the team seemed to be satisfied to get a 0-0 draw. A good chance was generated when Cummings was fouled outside the box. Jamie Smith stepped up to float the free kick in and Drew Moor got over his man to head the game winner home. After that the Rapids just had to shut the Crew down for about 10 minutes and they claimed the 3 points.

There were three big calls from the ref in this game and none of them were nailed dead on in my opinion. In the first half Cummings went down in the box, a bit of a dive, and Casey complained to the ref about it. In the process Casey put his elbow up to the ref to demonstrate what the Crew player had done from Casey's POV. In the process Casey made contact with the ref with his elbow. Technically a yellow card, but Casey was demonstrating something and not aggressively making contact with the ref. I think that's something the ref should have let go, instead he immediately produced a yellow card after being touched.

In the second half Casey committed a bad tackle in the Rapids offensive end. It was pretty obviously a yellow card. The ref gave him a warning. I think that the ref felt that sending Casey off for a second yellow after the weak first yellow was a bit unfair, but it really was pretty close to a textbook yellow. Casey was lucky to stay on the field.

The big call was the red card. Pablo was fouled and taken to the turf by Lenhart. After the whistle was blown for the foul Lenhart kicked the ball directly at Pablo on the ground, not very hard, but it was obviously intentional. Pablo, incensed by being hit by the ball, lunged at Lenhart from the ground, making contact with an open hand on his leg and swinging and missing with either his other open hand or fist. The ref immediately appeared to show Lenhart a red and then a yellow card. Once the confusion got sorted out we found out the red was intended for Pablo. Honestly I'm not sure Pablo's lunge was red-worthy, but it could have gone either way. What was clear to me though is that both players struck the other after the whistle, one with is hand and/or fist, and one with the ball. to me that merits equal punishment. Giving Pablo a red and Lenhart a yellow was not the right call. Pablo made things worse by going ape-$hit and refusing to leave the field, which will probably result in an additional game suspension.

My key to the game was GBS vs. Pablo. Schelotto had one good chance that he shanked, otherwise he was fairly quiet all game. Obviously Pablo had a significant impact ont he game though.

Other Observations:
  • The Rapids are now up to 3rd in pts/game, behind only LA and Columbus.
  • Very good move by Gary Smith in subbing Casey off when he did. He had just escaped a second yellow and I think any questionable foul the rest of the game would have gotten him that card.
  • Good to see Jamie Smith get back to playing.
  • Of course the week I finally decide that Wells Thompson is now the starter on the left, Clark gets the starting spot back. Good move though.
  • One of the thins I missed int eh first half was Baudet and Pickens having a shouting match. I have no idea why, but we pitched a shutout so it couldn't have been too disastrous.
  • hopefully Baudet's limp wasn't an indicator of a worse injury.
  • Danny Earls still seemed a bit off in this game. Hopefully he can get out of this funk soon.
  • Cummings still seems to not be able to put the final touch on his play. He has great ideas, but the final pass or shot to get them there doesn't happen.
Player of the Game: Drew Moor. I was already leaning towards giving him the MOTM award based on his defensive play and keeping the Crew quiet. Once he scored the goal though, it was an easy choice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Village People Alert!

Our favorite 70s band, er I mean the Columbus Crew, are in town tomorrow night for the last home game before the World Cup break. The Crew is flying high in the East, and this may be the toughest home game left on the schedule since LA has already visited. Lucky for us, Columbus played in San Jose on Wednesday night, so hopefully they'll run out of gas before the end of the game. Game time is 7pm, and as always the tailgate will be in the East VIP lot at 5.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Kosuke Kimura (L ankle stress fracture); MF Ciaran O'Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear); PROBABLE: DF Julien Baudet (L knee strain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain)

Columbs only has two players listed as out for this game so they are almost at full strength. The Rapids lineup has been fairly settled as of late and I don't expect many changes:

Wynne - Moor - Baudet - Earls
Pablo - Larentowicz
Cummings - Ballouchy - Thompson

I don't understand why Thompson is starting over Clark, but I assume its going to continue. The other 10 spots seem pretty locked in at this point.

Key To Look For: Guillermo Barros Schelotto vs. Pablo. GBS is one of, if not the best, playmaker in MLS and the Columbus offense runs through him. If Pablo can contain him it will greatly reduce the Crew's chances of winning the game.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Conor Casey. I don't think we can keep Columbus off the scoreboard, and I don't think our offense can score more than one goal. A draw seems to be the way to go. With Columbus' midweek game and playing at altitude I wouldn't be shocked to see us sneak a winner late, but a draw feels more likely. I think Casey will continue his resurgence in play and get on the scoreboard again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Full House Sees Rapids Get Full 3 Points

In front of a packed house on Saturday night the Rapids got their first MLS win over the Sounders. Colorado controlled the play, but once again had a hard time finishing until a beautiful goal from Conor Casey. On the defensive end, a combination of poor shooting and good defense kept Pickens from having to do much. He had one big save to make, and the defense had a couple of breakaways to clamp down on, but the Rapids had the better of the game. Colorado out-shot the Sounders 10 to 9 and on goal 5-1. Keller had a big night, denying 2-3 close-range headers from the Rapids. He was caught out of position on the goal though.

There were 2 plays that were somewhat controversial in the eyes of Sounders fans. On the goal Jeff Parke and Conor Casey got tied up and Casey used his momentum and size to push through Parke. Could have been a foul on Casey, could have been an obstruction foul on Parke, the ref didn't call either and let the play continue which allowed Casey to score. I think any decision would have been a decent call, but obviously I think the ref made the right choice. Shortly after the goal there were appeals for a handball on the Rapids in the box. On replay I see another case where it was borderline. Cummings had his hand extended from his body, having just completed a 180 spin to get in front of the defender. His arm was out for balance, so it wasn't an "unnatural playing position" but the ball clearly hit him on the arm. It came from right in front of him, so he had no time to react to the ball. Cummings was standing right on the edge of the box, so I think a PK in this situation would have been harsh, but a call of a handball just outside the box probably would have been an OK call, even if the ref was fudging just a bit on the location.

My key to the game was Freddy Ljungberg vs. Pablo. I predicted that a couple of hard, but legal, fouls would get Freddy out of his game and complaining to the ref. Sure enough, Ljungberg did start whining and picked up a yellow for dissent (Pablo also got a yellow for dissent, as did Casey). By the end of the game Freddy was stomping around the field yelling at everyone and calling other Sounders off of free kicks to take them, badly, himself.

Other Observations:
  • With the win the Rapids are tied for 4th in pts/game in the league.
  • Cummings had an off night. He had great ideas, but his final touch couldn't quite execute them.
  • I don't understand why Thompson is starting over Clark. One reader of the blog has said he doesn't think Clark is at 100%, but he does as much as Thompson is doing and at least I have the belief that Clark will rise to the next level, which I don't see Thompson doing.
  • With the exception of the yellow for dissent, Pablo had a great game. He really neutralized anything coming through the middle.
  • Drew Moor bounced back from his awful USOC game with a solid play in this game.
  • Danny Earls struggled in this game. His defense was not great and offensively he seemed to be on a different page than everyone else.
  • Great crowd. Only the 9th sell-out in the history of the Dick.
Player of the Game: Marvell Wynne. He did a outstanding job of covering his defensive responsibilities while getting into the attack. His overlap with Cummings kept Seattle on its toes.