Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fascinating Happy Hour With Rapids Executives

Tonight I was invited along with other bloggers and press to a happy hour with Rapids President Tim Hinchey, Rapids General Manager Paul Bravo, Rapids Head Coach Oscar Pareja.  Rapids Director of Media Relations David Lindholm organized the event and was also present.  There were 8-10 of us talking with the Rapids leadership trio.  Some of the other blogs and press included the Denver Post, Goal.com, ColoradoRapidsfan.com, and Burgundy Wave.

Most of this is going to be just a random set of impressions and information I got out of the gathering but I wanted to mention how interesting it was to listen to Coach Pareja speak.  I don't know if he's the long-term answer in Colorado yet but he is certainly passionate about his plans.  He talked about his time with the Colombian National Team in the 90's, the fact that parts of the game are "in his blood", and the mentality of players he wants playing for him.  I don't know what the result of his time in Colorado will be, but I'm glad I got the chance to listen to him talk.

Otherwise here's some of the random information and impressions I got out of the evening:

  • Hinchey stated that he's put his stake in the ground, that there will be a shirt sponsor by the beginning of the 2013 season.
  • The shirt sponsorship will probably make the Rapids profitable.  The average sponsorship in the league is 2.5 million a year, and the Rapids lost 2.2 million last year.
  • The shirt sponsorship is not a requirement to sign a DP but it would go a long, long way to making it possible.
  • Bravo's trip to Africa last month turned up two players they're working on getting visas for, a 17-18 year old striker and a 20-21 year old central midfielder.  It was unclear if they're just coming over for trials or the Rapids are actually signing them.
  • It sounds like one of these players was on one of the Olympic teams eliminated before the semis, but Bravo may have been referring to a 3rd player they're pursuing.
  • Pareja's system isn't just his system.  The whole club, from the 8/9/10 year olds up to the first-team, are using the same playing style and system.  This started even before Papi was hired when Bravo first showed up in 2009.
  • The team has had to work hard to make in-roads into the Colorado youth system, but its finally starting to pay off.  They have to do very little recruiting now, the success of the youth teams is starting to drive talent to them.
  • The biggest obstacle right now seems to be inertia.  Players who have played with Rush/Real/Storm teams since they were 6 years old tend to want to stay with their friends and club instead of moving into the Rapids system.
  • OP seemed to be willing to go down with his system.  He's learned about the team and made tweaks, but the foundation of the system won't change.
  • One of the tweaks started with the Swansea game, where he flipped the midfield triangle from one holding mid and two attackers in front of him to two holding mids and one attacker.
  • Mullan playing right back in the second half last week after Nane's injury may not be a one-off thing.  It sounds like he spent some time training there this week.
  • The door is open anywhere in the club for whatever Pablo wants to do.  If he wants to come back and play, coach, announce, get involved on the business side, whatever.
  • All three of them admitted places where they had been wrong this season, and they weren't minor things.
I can't say my perception of where the team is or my opinion of any of the three leaders was changed significantly by spending time with them, but it was interesting to get their take on things.   When push comes to shove though, its still going to come down to results.  The one thing I realized is that this system that the team is using is coming from all the leadership, not just Pareja.  So if the system is the problem just changing Pareja isn't going to be enough, its going to take a complete change of leadership.  If the system is right though, the club's development is going to feed right into it for years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How in the world do they think they are going to get a jersey sponsor to pony up $2.5MM for a team with a losing record?