Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rapids Sign Brenton Griffiths

Today Colorado announced they signed their 2nd Round Supplemental draft pick (first pick the Rapids had in the draft) Brenton Griffiths.  Griffiths is a Jamaican international youth defender, playing for their U-17 and U-20 teams and played college ball at Tyler Junior College and the University of South Florida.  He's also played in all 4 Rapids Reserves matches this year.

Obviously this move was to add defensive cover with the injuries to Wynne and Calderon, plus the expected absence of O'Neill for the U-20 World Cup in June.  Griffths' signing brings Colorado up to 30 players, the roster limit, and 8 internationals, also the limit.  However with the number of players, both domestic and international, the Rapids have on injured reserve the limits aren't really a concern (players on IR don't count towards roster/international limits).  This probably means that the pursuit of a South American defender playing in Europe is over, as the transfer window closes at the end of the week and there's no room for another player, particularly another international, on the roster if everyone is healthy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Electricity And Water Cancel Out In Houston

Colorado outplayed Houston for much of the match, but yet again an untimely injury changed the match and Houston managed to scramble back into it for a point.  The Rapids were the dominant team in the first half, pressing Houston repeatedly and not being afraid to get physical with them.  Harris had the first two chances but couldn't get them on frame.  He followed that up late in the half by bringing the ball into the box and dumping it across to Mwanga just as he collided with Houston keeper Tally Hall.  Mwanga had an open net but a Dynamo defender managed to race back and clear the looping shot.  Minutes later in 1st half stoppage time Mwanga put a shot on target that was parried out for a corner.  Powers whipped in the set piece and Moor headed home the goal I predicted would come last week against Seattle.

The second half started much like the first.  Jamie Smith hit the post just 6 minutes in, almost doubling the lead.  Immediately after that though came the critical point in the game.  Hendry Thomas tried to clear a ball and jammed his leg, being carried off on a stretcher.  Initial tests pointed to a left hamstring pull.  Nathan Sturgis came in for him, and the Rapids midfield lost its bite.  Suddenly Colorado was on the back foot and Houston was taking the game to them.  14 minutes later Giles Barnes made us pay.  A long clearance from GK Tally Hall took an unlucky combination of bounces off of Shane O'Neill and Sturgis and fell to the feet of a charging Barnes.  Drew Moor cut down the far post angle but Barnes hit a Goal of the Week blast that beat Clint Irwin near post.  Houston would keep the pressure up for another 10 minutes or so before the introduction of Mastroeni returned the bite in the midfield the Rapids needed to pull back some control.  A couple of late chances by the Rapids weren't enough to get the win though.

My key to the match was scoring more than 1 to win.  We needed to, and we didn't.  Once again, too many "oh, we almost had it" moments.

Random Thoughts:
  • Great to see Rivero and Pablo back on the field.  That gives us some much needed reinforcements in midfield.
  • The goal really was a laser but its tough to see a keeper get beat near post, especially when Moor was cutting off the far post.  I have to wonder if Irwin couldn't have done a bit better.
  • Harris' collision with Hall in the box should have been a PK.  Considering how close Moor's goal came after that though, I doubt it would have been scored if Colorado was up 1-0 already, so its had to say we got screwed.
  • Mwanga has had 3 golden chances in the last two games and finished none of them.  That's inexcusable from a attacking player.
  • As BigSoccer poster DavidJames put it, "Harris can navigate the traffic on I25 into Denver but he sucks at parking the the car." Atiba does some things well but he doesn't do multiple things well at the same time, which leads to getting into good positions but taking a bad shot, or receiving a tricky ball but hitting a bad pass.  Acceptable in a player like Brown and Powers who are still learning, not acceptable in a player in his 8th year in the league.
  • Hill was invisible in this match.
  • Smith on the other hand showed that he's able to play at a high level as a starter.  I didn't think he had it in him at this point.
  • Another solid game from Powers and Irwin.  Got to love the youth movement.
Player of the Match: Drew Moor.  Got the goal that I felt like was coming for a couple of weeks and generally played another solid game.  The goal just gave me an excuse to recognize his good play over the last few games.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Short-Handed Rapids Hope To Short Dynamo

Water and Electricity Don't Mix

Sorry for the lack of anything but previews/reviews lately.  big project at work finally finished today so I'll hopefully have more brain cycles to dedicate to writing.  Look for a post either tomorrow or early next week about this year's USA Pro Challenge route.

Sunday the Rapids are in Houston to face one half of the former C+C Goal Factory, Omar Cummings, and the rest of the Dynamo.  Tough game right now given our injury situation.  Game time is 3pm MDT and the game is on Altitude in the Denver area and UniMas nationally.  Smaller more localized viewing parties for the first nice weekend of the spring.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF Kevin Harbottle (L strained MCL), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture); DF Marvell Wynne (R quad strain)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Deshorn Brown (thigh), FW Edson Buddle (lower back pain), MF Pablo Mastroeni (L quad strain), MF Martin Rivero (R foot fracture)

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Please welcome our newest contestant to the Rapids Injury Report, Marvell Wynne!  Ouch.  Pablo and Rivero both traveled with the team and are hopeful to be in the 18 but obviously won't start.  Brown did not travel.  No report either way on Buddle.  Houston has a player suspended, 3 Out, and 3 Questionable.  My guess at the starting XI:

If Buddle can't go we'll probably see Mwanga again, hopefully he's better than last week.  There's some talk that Hill could start over Cascio but I'll believe it when I see it.  I highly doubt Smith starts given Pareja's use of him over the last 40+ games.

Key To Look For: Can we score more than 1?  We've only done it once this season and I think we'll need more than 1 to get a point in Houston.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Powers.  Houston is too good for this banged up Colorado team.  A long shot from Powers makes it interesting but in the end Houston's quality takes it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rapids & Sounders Set MLS Back 5 Years

That was a lousy game to watch as a neutral fan, worse as a Rapids fan.  It probably wasn't very pleasant to watch as a Sounders fan but at least they could celebrate 3 points at the end of the day.  Two teams that were lucky to string 3 passes together wasted 90 minutes on the field.  At the end of the day the difference was that one team (Seattle) followed up a rebound and finished it and one team (Colorado) didn't.  Both teams had 3 shots on goal and 2 great chances.  Colorado hit the crossbar and the woodwork, Seattle hit the crossbar and Irwin saved the second but Martins followed up the rebound to score.  Wynne did a fairly decent job of marking him but slipped when trying to beat Martins to the ball leaving an easy shot for the Seattle DP.

Other than that there's not much to say about this dog of a game.  The sad thing is that the 3 points were there for the taking due to Seattle's poor play, but the disjointedness of the Rapids lineup (losing both starting forwards in the 24 hours leading up to the game) and the inability to get good chances on target allowed Seattle to claim the win.

My key to the match was a defensive lock down.  One mistake was all it took.  At least we didn't give up a PK.

Random Thoughts:
  • Steve Zakuani gave Section 108 a nice thumbs up after we welcomed him back to Colorado at the beginning of the game.
  • That said, Yedlin deserved all the boos we gave him for that Flock of Seagulls-esque haircut.
  • Buddle was ruled out after pre-game warm-ups.  That was probably the change that cost us any points from this game.
  • Good to see Mwanga out there, bad to see him play so poorly.  He had two gift-wrapped chances he couldn't finish and generally didn't impact the game at all.
  • Mullan started out similarly but found his groove in the second half.  He wasn't great but it was a marked improvement after halftime.
  • Cascio wasn't as bad as some are making him out to be, but with the complete lack of input from Harris and Mwanga we needed more from him than we got.
  • LaBrocca leaving at half for the second straight game isn't a good sign, but Hill coming on for him made the Rapids look a little better.
  • I know some readers won't like this comment but Seattle's time-wasting is still the best in the league.  Make of that what you will. ;)
Player of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Almost by default as nobody stood out and Irwin made every save we could expect from him.  Nothing he could have done about the goal.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Colorado - Seattle - 4/20 - We Know What MLS Was Smoking

Trap Game!

Tomorrow the Sounders are in town to play the Rapids.  As long time readers of this blog know, games against Seattle hold a added importance to me due to it being my hometown and a number of my family members (Hi Anthony!, Hi Rob!) who are Sounders season ticket holders.  Game time tomorrow is at 4pm so the tailgate starts at 1pm with a double-theme of fish tacos and munchies.  For those watching on TV the game has been moved from Altitude to Altitude2 due to the Nuggets playoff game on Altitude.

A couple of important notes for this game.  This is likely to be Steve Zakuani's first playing time in Colorado since Mullan's tackle broke his name.  He'll probably start.  Also in the 26th minute there will be a minute of sustained applause from the Centennial 38 sections to honor the victims of the bombings in Boston.  26 because the bombs were exploded at the end of the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon.  Rapids fans (throughout the various forms of the supporters groups) have always had a good relationship with the Midnight Riders, the Revolution's supporters group.  Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis was at the finish line with his family and while he is fine his father-in-law is one of the victims in the hospital in critical condition.

Injury Report:
OUT:  FW Deshorn Brown (), DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF Kevin Harbottle (L strained MCL), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Edson Buddle (lower back pain), MF Nick LaBrocca (L groin tightness), MF Pablo Mastroeni (L quad strain), DF Brian Mullan (R foot pain), MF Martin Rivero (R foot fracture)

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Buddle and Mullan are new additions to the Questionable list, but the big news is Deshorn Brown.  Chris Bianchi has tweeted he is out for tomorrow's game with more details to come.  That's a big loss going into the game.  Dillon Powers also needed stitches over his right eye after a collision in training today but it doesn't seem like it will keep him from playing tomorrow.  Seattle is missing one player due to injury and 3 others are questionable.  My guess at the starting XI:

This assumes Buddle, LaBroccca, and Mullan can go.  If they can't go I'd expect O'Neill in for Mullan with Wynne moving to right back, Cascio in for LaBrocca with Powers moving up, and maybe Hill or Smith in for Buddle with Mwanga as a lone striker and Hill/Smith and Harris on the wings in a 4-3-3/4-5-1.

Key To Look For: Defensive lock down.  Seattle has only scored 2 goals in 5 games so far, so they aren't yet dangerous but that will change eventually.  If Colorado can keep Seattle from figuring it out they can scrape by with a win even with their extremely weakened lineup.  Oh, and getting through a game without giving up a PK!

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Moor.  Drew redeems himself after the LA game by heading a free kick home and the Rapids keeps the Sounders attack puzzled for another week.  I wouldn't be shocked to see a 0-0 or 1-1 draw but I'm feeling optimistic.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rapids Handle Under-A-Chivas

First of all obviously the attack in Boston yesterday is top of mind right now.  Since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami I've had links to the Red Cross on the left bar, but they're just as applicable after yesterday's bombing.

Now on to Saturday's game.  The Rapids managed to hold the highest-scoring team in the league scoreless somehow, allowing an early PK by DeShorn Brown to hold up for a second straight 1-0 win.  The game started fast with Brown getting knocked down just inside the penalty area.  The ref didn't hesitate to point to the spot and Brown went to captain Hendry Thomas (who took the spot kick against FSL last week) and said he was feeling it today.  Thomas made way for the rookie and Brown sent Kennedy the wrong way for his second goal of the season and a quick 1-0 lead.

About 30 minutes later Colorado tried to give it right back.  For the 4th straight game the team gave up a penalty kick.  This time Shane O'Neill went up unfairly for a header and knocked Correa sideways.  Extending his own MLS record for number of consecutive games facing a PK to start a career, Irwin stepped up and guess the right way for the 4th straight time.  Irwin didn't make the save but Correa put the shot right above him into the bar.

Those were the big highlights of the match.  Both teams had a couple of good chances (Brown had a great chance that he appeared to run out of energy on) but nobody could find the back of the net and the Rapids had their first road win of the season.

My key to the match was taking advantage of the weak Chivas defense.  Brown did a good job getting behind the defensive line with the Rapids having 16 attempts on goal to 11 and 6 shots on target to 2 but they couldn't finish the job.  Still didn't get a goal from the run of play.

Random Thoughts:
  • I was concerned about the decision to leave Moor on the bench to stick with the younger O'Neill and Klute.  Turns out it was a legitimate concern as O'Neill gave up a PK but it didn't cost us.  At halftime Moor came on and O'Neill moved up to midfield.
  • LaBrocca came off for Moor nursing a sore groin.  Nothing serious according to the team but no sense taking any chances.
  • Buddle is slowly playing his way into shape, but I'd like to see Mwanga get some time while Buddle is getting back to 100%.
  • Atiba Harris gets a pass this week as he was apparently playing with food poisoning.
  • Jamie Smith should have come on about 15 minutes earlier than he did.  Our midfield really needed help in the 2nd half hanging onto the ball.
  • We have an Anthony Wallace sighting!  Good to see him finally healthy enough to play.
  • Mullan is better on the right than the left, but he's still better in midfield than in defense.
  • Clint Irwin is still the man.
Player of the Match: DeShorn Brown.  Set up the PK, scored the PK, should have had a second, and was generally burning Chivas all night.  Every time I see him play I like the pick for him a little more.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rapids Take On Baby Goats

Hopefully we leave the goats all wet

Tomorrow night the Rapids are back in LA-LA land, this time to face Chivas USA.  Chivas are one of the big surprises of the season,. being much better than people expected.  Game time tomorrow is a late 8:30pm, and this is the one game this year that starts on Altitude 2.  For those of you in the Denver area that have Comcast that's channel 105 (otherwise known as CET and only available in SD).  I say start on Altitude 2 because Altitude's schedule shows that they will join the game in progress for the second half after the Mammoth game finishes.  The official watch party is at the Armoury in Denver.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF Kevin Harbottle (L strained MCL), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture), MF Martin Rivero (R foot fracture),
QUESTIONABLE: MF Nick LaBrocca (L groin tightness), MF Pablo Mastroeni (L quad strain), DF Marvell Wynne (R knee pain)

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Not good to see LaBrocca and Wynne added to the injury report, but good to see Pablo doing better.  Chivas has 3 players out and 4 questionable.  With Moor back Pareja has a decision to make, but my guess at the XI:

This assumes none of the questionable players can go.  I'd expect Wynne in for O'Neill and Pablo or LaBrocca in for Cascio if they're able to start.  There's been talk from Pareja that he won't put Moor right back in the lineup but I think that's just talk.

Key To Look For: Taking advantage of Chivas' weak defense.  They have a strong offense that I don't expect to stop, but we can get behind them.  Dan Kennedy is hard to beat though.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Buddle.  I think our injuries make it too steep a hill to climb tomorrow.  Chivas is not a weak offense and we have defensive issues, meanwhile we aren't scoring particularly well.  Buddle does open his account though.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rapids Get First Win, Rocky Mountain Cup Lead

Colorado got its first win on Saturday night, holding on to an early goal to win 1-0.  The game started almost as well as you could hope.  Hendry Thomas played a great ball to Labrocca on the left wing, and he sent it in to Buddle in the box.  Borchers did everything short of mugging Buddle to get to the ball but Edson held him off as long as he could and as he was being pushed to the ground he poked the ball across to Harris who was busy fixing a sandwich on the other side of the box.  Wide open as he was he had enough time to put the sandwich down and knock the ball in for the lead before anyone got near him.  He then went with the 'rock the baby' celebration to honor his new daughter.

3 minutes later it looked like the Rapids gave the advantage right back.  Off a corner kick Dillon Powers was called for hauling down Kyle 'Rapids Reject' Beckerman in the box.  Rapids killer Alvaro Saborio who had hit 12 of 12 PKs for FSL stepped up but Clint Irwin was able to push the shot into the post and Powers redeemed himself by booting the ball down to the other end of the field to remove the danger.

The rest of the game see-sawed back and forth between the teams.  For the most part the Rapids were absorbing pressure and counter-attacking (FSL had 60% of the possession in the match) but both teams had good chances they were unable to convert.  The teams each had 3 shots on goal and 6 off target.  The Rapids got closest off a nice little cross on the ground from Chris Klute that DeShorn Brown redirected just off the post and a Jamie Smith shot that Rimando had to push around the post.  Clint Irwin had to come up big on two saves himself and Saborio had a couple of chances he couldn't put on frame.

My key to the match was defensive discipline and while things broke down occasionally (plus the PK) the Rapids were stout enough to get their first shutout of the season.  Can't ask for much more than that.

Special Rant:
Excuse me while I divert from the analysis of the game for a moment.  It was an embarrassing joke that the Rapids came out wearing their blue alternate kits for this game.  The biggest complaint many fans (including myself) had about the kits when they were revealed is that they looked too much like FSL kits.  So when FSL is the road team you allow them to wear their home jerseys while we wear kits that make us look like them?  Why?  The fans bleed Rapids burgundy, no more so than when we play FSL.  Especially this year when the burgundy kits carry the support of the fans through their names on the jersey and there's no game that the fans give their support to more than the Rocky Mountain Cup matches.

I asked the Rapids for an explanation today and they said that the team decided they would wear the blue kits at home once this season, but they asked the players which game they wanted to wear them for and the players chose the FSL game.  I'm not sure if they're just passing the buck to the players or that was the decision of the locker room but somebody in the Front Office should have stepped in and said "No, for FSL we wear burgundy, period."  I know there's some logic in the Colorado State Flag kit representing all of Colorado against Utah but that doesn't hold up IMO.

Random Thoughts:
  • OK, back to discussion of the game now.  ;)  The win gives the Rapids a 4 point to 1 point lead in the Rocky Mountain Cup.  A win or draw in the final game at the Dick in August brings the Cup home (finally), a loss leaves it in Utah for another year.
  • The PK was a technically correct call, but its nothing that doesn't happen on every corner kick.  Powers mistake was that he did it out in the open instead of in the scrum in the middle.
  • Oh, and the fact it was Beckerman he was up against.  The instant Powers touched him Beckerman went rag doll to draw the call.  Diver.
  • Clint Irwin is the first GK in MLS history to face PK's in each of his first 3 starts.  He's guessed right every time and this time he got there.
  • Both teams can feel hard done by from the ref.  After he set the bar with that early PK call he let numerous obvious PKs go.  Both teams should have clearly had a PK call that he ignored.
  • Not to mention that by the end of the game I had no idea what a foul was.  Big collisions would get no call, but breathing the wrong way on a player would draw a whistle.  Bad day from the center referee.
  • Buddle absolutely made Nat 'Rapids Reject' Borchers look useless on the goal.
  • Harris may have gotten the goal, but I could have scored it from there given how open he was.  Otherwise he didn't do anything to make me think he should be starting.  Dribbling the ball backwards out of bounds in the first 3 minutes was a wonderful start.
  • There's no way DeShorn Brown has the energy to play the way he does for 34 games.  Eventually he's going to either learn to pace himself or have to sit down for a couple of games to recover.  He's fun to watch though.
  • I hate to say it, but I'm not sure there's a place for Pablo once he's healthy.  He should start certain games where a stiffer spine is needed (like the final RMC match) but right now I think Powers (eventually Rivero), LaBrocca, and Thomas have got the midfield.
  • Klute is raw but you can see what the various coaches have seen in him with their talk.  If we have an option to buy him from his loan we should really think about it.
  • O'Neill is getting great experience while Moor is out.  He'll be a go to sub off the bench now and spot starter when other starters aren't available.
  • I almost forgot we had Nathan Sturgis on the roster.
Player of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Saved a PK, made a couple of other big saves, and got his first shutout. Irwin's the man!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Doing The Double

We'll get to the Rapids first win tomorrow, but this morning Queen of the South completed the double by beating 1st Division leaders Partick Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup final.  This was the League Challenge Cup open to teams from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd divisions.  Queens won 6-5 on penalties after 120 minutes ended with the teams level at 1 apiece.

The 90 minutes ended 0-0, then the Doonhamers scored in the 101st minute.  They gave up a PK in the 118th minute, only to save it in the 119th which sparked a melee int he box that ended with a Partick player seeing red.  The referee added time on after the festivites and in the added time Partick Thistle found the equalizer to force penalties.  After Queens saved Partick's first penalty but missed their own 2nd penalty everybody made their spot kicks until the 7th round when Queens was on target and the QoS goalkeeper came up with his 3rd PK save in 15 minutes to seal the deal.

This is Queen of the South's 2nd win in the 22 years of the competition and 4th final appearance.  The latter is tied with Ross County, Hamilton Academical, and Falkirk for the most appearances and they are now one of 6 teams to have won it multiple times.  Falkirk has won all 4 of its appearances in the final, and the now-defunct Airdrieonians won it 3 times before folding at the end of the 2001-02 season.  Last time Queens won the Cup was in 2002.  At the end of the 2001-2002 season Queens won the 2nd Division and were promoted and that fall they won the Cup (the whole competition was played in the fall then instead of holding the final for the spring) giving them an "unofficial" double of winning both competitions in the same calendar year.  Now they've officially done the double, winning both competitions in the same season.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

ALERT: FaKe SaLt LaKe Is In Town

This is the year we get it back

The second of three Rocky Mountain Cup matches today!  After a 1-1 draw on the West side of the mountains the Rapids have their best chance in a couple of years to claim the Cup with two home games remaining.  The winner tonight will take a huge step to winning the 2013 Cup.  Game time tonight is 5:30pm so the tailgate starts at 2:30.  Centennial 38 will have new scarves for sale at the tailgate.  For those of you who can't get to the Dick, this game is nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network (which will also be showing this year's Paris-Roubaix, aka the Hell of the North, cycling classic tomorrow morning).

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF Kevin Harbottle (L strained MCL), MF Pablo Mastroeni (L quad strain), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture), MF Martin Rivero (R foot fracture),

Discipline Report:

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on visa

That's an ugly availability report, with only 21 players to select from.  FSL has 2 players out and 8 players questionable.  My guess at today's XI:

This essentially the same formation we used last week when we jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Portland.  With Smith available he could play for LaBrocca or we could see Wallace in the back line but I bet Pareja sticks with what he did last week.

Key To Look For: Defensive discipline.  We can't seem to go 90 minutes without making a major defensive blunder, if we're going to win this we'll need to.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Brown.  They're healthier than they were 3 weeks ago, but their on the road now.  FSL hasn't won here in 5 years and that's not going to change tonight.  Colorado will do enough to get the draw and let everything be decided by the final game in August.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Strange Story Of Charles Eloundou

Many weeks ago you might remember that the Rapids won a lottery for the rights of Charles Eloundou, a 18-year old Cameroonian striker.  So far Eloundou has been unable to join the team in Colorado due to "administrative issues".  Today a couple of articles were posted detailing some of these issues.  First Chris Bianchi of MLSSoccer.com posted an article discussing things from the Rapids point of view.  It doesn't have much detail as to what the problems are, but the Rapids feel MLS has all the contracts they need to bring Eloundou over and they are enlisting FIFA's help to get the process moving.  You might remember last season when the Argentine FA held up Rivero's paperwork and FIFA had to step in to clear him.  There's also clarification that Eloundou's signing is now a full signing, not a loan.  Bianchi later tweeted some clarification as to one of the major hold-ups
Cameroon FA tops the list. Clubs want more money.
This seems to match what was revealed in the second article found today but posted last week.  Cameroon-Info.net has dug into things from the Cameroonian end and they appear to be very interesting.  There's a couple of caveats here though.  I have no idea of the reputation of Cameroon-Info.net, I don't know if its the equivalent of NPR or the News of the World.  Secondly the article is in French, which I don't read, and I'm relying on Google Translate to interpret for me.  With those advisories in place lets take a look.

Th article states that the Cameroonian FA (FECAFOOT) is pressuring Eloundou to break the contract with MLS and stay in Cameroon by joining Coton Sport FC in Garoua.  The FA has threatened him with being left out of any National Team call-ups and have bribed his family members to convince him to stay.  Reportedly the head of the FA has even called his mother to try to pressure Eloundou, but his mother appears to say Eloundou is ready to fight to pursue his dream of playing in the U.S.  It appears that MLS took advantage of the fact that he was signed as a youth player until he turned 18 and there was a provision in his contract that allowed him to leave if he got a full professional contract offer.  The Cameroonian FA now wants to keep this talent at home, probably thinking of the transfer fees they can gain from a European club if he stays, while MLS signed him on a free transfer due to the age issue.  Reportedly MLS signed him in December, and Charles' 18th birthday (the earliest a player can be signed to a full contract by a team outside his home country) was Dec. 4th so MLS did their research and made their move as soon as they could.

MLS may be behind the curve in on-field talent, but they're second to none on the business side.  I'm sure that MLS crossed the t's and dotted the i's on their contract offer, just as they did with Martin Rivero last year.  Assuming that nothing was missed I would assume that FIFA would come in like they did with Rivero and officially transfer Eloundou's rights to MLS.  However this is FIFA so the right money in the right place could change the expected result.  The Denver Post said they'll have more about this tomorrow, we'll see if its anything more than what Cameroon-Info.net says.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rapids Don't Have Enough Power To Fell Timbers

A banged up Rapids lineup looked good for 50 minutes and bad for 40, but that's all that was needed to drop 2 points.  As I predicted Portland didn't really start playing and Colorado got an early goal.  An absolute rocket from rookie Dillon Powers that goes right to the top of the early list for team Goal of the Year, put the Rapids up in the 18th minute.  That was after Colorado was unlucky on an early shot from Brown that hit the post and the follow up rebound shot hit the other post.  Colorado controlled most of the 1st half, though Portland did have a good chance right after the Rapids goal.

The second half started very well as Tony Cascio had a nice fake to beat two defenders into the box and as he took the shot he was clipped from behind.  The shot was saved but the PK was called.  Hendry Thomas(?!) stepped up and converted the spot kick for to give the Rapids a 2 goal lead 3 minutes into the half.  That's when, as predicted, Portland decided to start playing.  8 minutes later Ryan Johnson crossed the ball into the box and found Will Johnson unmarked to half Colorado's lead.  Johnson was one of 3 players unmarked on the play.  The Rapids kept the pressure up but couldn't find the 3rd goal, O'Neill in particular being denied by a Save of the Year candidate from Donovan Ricketts.  In the 77th minute Portland got the makeup PK you kind of felt was coming.  Atiba Harris stuck his boot into the midsection of a Portland attacker and the referee didn't hesitate.  The Timbers converted and defended the 2-2 draw to get out of town with a point.

My key to the game was scoring, and we did manage it and probably should have had more.  It just happened to be at the same time we chose to give up 2 goals to Portland for the first time.

Random Thoughts:
  • We didn't even make it to game time without another injury, with Kevin Harbottle hurting his knee in Friday's training.  Rumors are he'll be out a month.
  • That left the Rapids with only 18 players not injured, suspended, or ineligible.  Luckily despite being Questionable Buddle was able to start, giving Pareja 19 players to choose from.  That left Dillon Serna as the odd available player out who didn't dress for the game.  It may also have been injury related as he only made the subs list for the reserve game on Sunday.
  • Buddle admitted after the game he wasn't ready to start, and it showed.  He was clearly overweight and not at the level of fitness he should have been at.  He also appeared disengaged from the rest of the team to the point that I'm wondering if he wants to be here.  I'm trying not to make a judgement on such a small sample size though.
  • Both PK calls were somewhat minor infractions, but good calls.  Other refs might have let both of them go but the right move is to call neither of them or both of them.  Neither team should feel hard done by.
  • Atiba Harris is a waste of a roster space.  The only memorable thing he did was give up the PK.
  • DeShorn Brown really looks like he'll be good after some more seasoning.  Right now he's just pushing too much I think.
  • On the first Timbers goal the reason 3 players were unmarked is that the backline was playing a pretty good offside trap.  Unfortunately Ryan Johnson spun Mullan around so much to get clear to make the cross that Mullan allowed his momentum to take him behind the line the defense set, putting at least 2 of the Timbers players back onside, including the goal scorer.
  • O'Neill and Klute did fairly well for being thrown into the fire like they were.  Its hard to blame them on either goal.
  • Clint Irwin looked good again, harsh to have to face PK shots in your first two starts.  He's given up 4 goals total and its hard to say he had any blame in any of them.
Player of the Match: Dillon Powers.  Even without the goal he would have been the choice.  He had a solid game distributing the ball and pressing the attack and the gaol was good enough to make Sportscenter's top plays.