Friday, May 31, 2013

Rapids Go For 6 In A Row Against Rival Dallas

Yep, more MLS Cup victory photos :D

Regular playoff foe Dallas makes its way north to face Colorado tomorrow.  The Rapids have not lost in 5 games and only once int he last nine and hope to keep that roll going.  In honor of Dallas' visit, brisket at the tailgate tomorrow.  Kickoff is at 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  Flemming and Brian Crookham will have the call on Altitude as Balboa is at U.S. Soccer's 100th anniversary gala.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF MArtin River (R foot injury); MF Jaime Smith (R groin strain), MF Hendry Thomas (L hamstring strain)

Disciplinary Report:

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Not good to see Rivero back on the injury report but everyone else stayed healthy.  O'Neill is back from suspension so that helps the back line.  Dallas also has 2 players Out and 4 Questionable so they're feeling similar pain.  My guess at our XI:

Hard to tell what the back line will be exactly with all 5 players available.  Both O'Neill and Wynne played in the USOC game but I have a feeling they'll both get the start while Mullan rests.  Powers is the obvious replacement for Rivero and I don't think we'll see any other changes from last week.

Key To Look For: Keeping Dallas from getting dangerous chances.  Ferriera is back for Dallas and we saw him burn us in MLS Cup 2010.  Keeping him contained and minimizing the number of chances Dallas can create will keep us in this game.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Brown.  Dallas is the best team we've faced since the LA game and I don't see back to back wins.  We played them even in Dallas to start the season with only Ceus' blunder costing us a point.  We'll see another even game tomorrow and get that point.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rapids Get Trounced Out Of Open Cup

A fairly good second squad for the Rapids got beat 3-1 by a really good Orlando City team last night to end the 2013 U.S. Open Cup campaign as soon as it got started.  By fairly good I meant everybody but backup keeper Steward Ceus, who had another howler of a game that ended up with a 2nd half red card while the team was down 2-1.

The first OCSC goal in the 4th minute came off a bad deflection that left Ceus diving the wrong way, but Hill tied it back up after a nice defensive play in the attacking third left him 1 on 1 with the keeper.  At halftime the game was still tied, but that changed right after half.  Ceus badly misread a cross and watched it sail by while he flapped at it.  An Orlando attacker had some space and headed it home past the out of position Ceus.  Shortly after that Ceus charged out for an on-coming ball but misread it and collided with the onrushing Orlando striker outside the box.  Just before the collision the Orlando striker managed to touch it past Ceus towards the open net but O'Neill came flying back to clear it off the line, picking up a bit of a knock in the process.  After about 30 seconds of play the center referee noticed the flag of the assistant and after consultation issued Ceus a red card for the collision.  Clint Irwin subbed in to replace him (Harbottle coming off) but the goal and man deficit was too much to overcome.  Finally Orlando scored a 3rd through a nice set of passing that beat our defense.

A disappointing loss but we probably weren't going far in the competition this year anyway.  It did give us some insight on our roster however.  Ceus is clearly not a MLS goalkeeper anymore.  Along with the mistakes noted above he allowed a couple of bad rebounds and was nearly beaten by being out of position at the top of the box again.  Combined with the mistakes earlier in the year he shouldn't be playing at this level.  Also looking at who made the 18, when you take out the unavailable, injured, or older resting players the only player who wasn't in the 18 was Davy Armstrong.  That doesn't bode well for his long term future.

On to 2014 where maybe, just maybe, Colorado might host a game.

Monday, May 27, 2013

U.S. Open Cup Round 3 Tomorrow

The Rapids left today for Orlando for their 3rd Round U.S. Open Cup match against Orlando City SC tomorrow.  We know that Dillon Powers, Tony Cascio, Clint Irwin, and Nick LaBrocca are travelling thanks to Chris Bianchi but the rest of the travel roster has not been revealed.  Game time tomorrow is 5:30pm MDT.  The game will be streamed live HERE with Orlando's announcers.

I never predict outcomes for USOC games as its hard to tell how seriously the club is taking the competition.,  Usually they aren't taking it serious at all.  For once though I agree with that stance.  We already know that, barring a miracle, if we beat Orlando we'll travel to Kansas City on June 12th.  Given our current league results I see no reason to risk our health and tiring out players to win tomorrow just so we can play another tough road game in two weeks.  If our bench players, reserves, etc. can win tomorrow then we'll know the quarterfinal draw before going to KC and we can decide how seriously to take that game.  If we lose tomorrow because of the decision, so be it.

Despite being a USL side (and thus, technically 3rd tier) Orlando might be the best non-MLS side in the country.  Not only that, but they were pushing had for that 20th team slot NYCFC just filled.  Orlando is going to want to prove they deserve to be at the MLS level by beating a MLS team.  We can beat them, even without some of our top players, but its going to take a great game.

Rapids Make It Five Without A Loss

As expected Colorado dominated the game on Saturday night en route to a less impressive 2-0 win.  It didn't take long for the Rapids to get on the board in possibly the best worked goal so far this season.  In the 11th minute Rivero corralled a loose ball, took another touch, and found Brown up front.  Deshorn played a one-touch pass out wide to Klute and he one-timed a cross to an onrushing Harris who finally found the back of the net.  A total of 6 touches between 4 players got the ball from just past the center circle to the goal.

Colorado continued to control the game, with only a couple of slip ups that Chivas was unable to take advantage of.  There was only one shot on target from either team the rest of the half (an easy save for Irwin) but Colorado was clearly the stronger team.  This continued into the second half where while each team had a chance on goal, Chivas only had one other chance and Irwin smothered the one on target they got.  The Rapids finished their chance.  A nice sequence of passing (Wynne - Buddle - Mullan - Brown) ended up with Deshorn sending the ball back in front of the net for Nathan Sturgis to turn home.  That ended any hope chivas had and the Rapdis were able to play out the game for their 5th win in 9 games against 1 loss.

My key to the match was dominating a game we should dominate.  Despite the less than impressive 2-0 scoreline the Rapids were clearly in charge and weren't even in danger of losing.

Random Thoughts:
  • Its interesting that despite their control the Rapids had the same number of shots on goal as Chivas, 2.  The difference were that the Rapids shots were well placed while Chivas' were right to Irwin.
  • Colorado had 11 other attempts at goal though, while Chivas only had 3.
  • Rivero left the game before half with an injury to the same foot he broke in preseason, but x-rays yesterday showed the injury was not a re-break and not serious.  He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow to determine a timeline for his return.
  • Powers did a great job coming off the bench for Rivero.  Its good to know he's able to bounce in and out of the lineup like that with no ruffled feathers.
  • Chris Klute had a monster of a game.  He's locked up the left back spot for now, and Kindle and Wallace will have to work to pry him out.
  • German Mera did make the 18 but, not surprisingly, didn't play.
  • Wynne struggled a bit in this game, he had a couple of turnovers that might have been dangerous had Chivas been a more competent team.
  • Buddle was quieter than I would have liked.  He needs to be more engaged in the offense if we're going to have long-term success.
  • If you had Atiba Harris and Nathan Sturgis as the goal scorers in this game, you're lying.
  • Seriously, Nathan Freakin Sturgis has scored in back-to-back games, who saw that coming?
  • Brown had a couple of great crosses that nobody was making far post runs on.  Had they been there would have been at least one more goal.
  • Danny Mwanga just quit on a a cross that would have been an easy tap-in.  That's at least 4 times this season he's had a gimmie goal and been unable to finish.  Eloundou can't get here soon enough.
  • 19 points in 9 games, that's a nice run.
Player of the Match: Deshorn Brown.  He had 2 assists, could have had 1-2 more if some runs were made to support him, and generally drove the Chivas defense crazy most of the night.  It would be nice for him to get on the score sheet himself, but if he wants to take Cummings role as the setup guy for the other forward I've got no complaints.  He now leads the team with 4 assists.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rapids Welcome Under-A-Chivas For Memorial Day


The Rapids are back home for a 3 game home stand, interrupted for the international weekend on June 8th.  A sell-out crowd is expected tomorrow to see Colorado take on Chivas USA.  A sell-out mainly because of a massive tournament weekend on the field complex at the Dick, so plan accordingly when it comes to parking.  The tailgate will start at 4pm for the 7pm kickoff with the game on Altitude for those who can't make it.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), MF Jaime Smith (R groin strain), MF Hendry Thomas (L hamstring strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: DF Shane O'Neill (Red card vs. San Jose)

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificates

Probably the shortest injury report we've had all season, with only two players completely unavailable due to injury.  I doubt we see Castrillon or Thomas, and Smith at best only as a sub.  Chivas hasn't posted an updated injury report since the beginning of the month, but I don't remember then having significant injuries.  My guess at the starting XI:

O'Neill's suspension brings Wynne back to the center with Mullan re-taking the right back role.  Buddle, unsuspended, and Powers, now healthy, go right back into the XI.  Sturgis is the only real question mark, Pablo could take his place.

Key To Look For: Dominating a game we should dominate.  All but 1 game this season has been decided by 1 goal.  This game shouldn't be.  Colorado beat Chivas in LA, and Chivas has gotten worse while Colorado has gotten better since then.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Brown and Buddle.  I almost pushed it to 3 goals, as Chivas has been being burned by speed like Brown's in recent weeks, but the Rapids struggles offensively will keep the game closer than it should be.  Should the Rapids avoid the mental trap of this game, Brown and Buddle will feast on the Chivas 3-man high line and Colorado will never be in danger of losing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roster Notes and USOC Bracket News

German Mera

Three roster notes today:
  • As you can see by the above picture, German Mera has arrived in Colorado and is eligible for selection on Saturday
  •'s Rapids beat writer Chris Bianchi has tweeted that he expects resolution, probably in the Rapids favor, of the Charles Eloundou saga in the near future.
  • Jaime Castrillon received his green card today, which brings the Rapids back down to a total of 8 internationals (assuming Eloundou does end up here), which is how many slots they have.  They still have 31 signed players against a roster cap of 30 though, but that's not a problem until every single one of them is healthy, which I'm not sure is ever going to happen this season (though Calderon and Eloundou were the only ones not at training today).
Also today Colorado found out their possible USOC 4th Round matchups.  If they beat Orlando City SC next week they'll face the winner of the matchup between Sporting Kansas City and the PDL's Des Moines Menace.  If its Des Moines they'll host the game at 7pm MDT on June 12th.  In the more likely case that its KC, they'll travel to KC for a 6:30pm MDT kickoff on June 12th.

At this point, with one guaranteed road game against possibly the best non-MLS side in the competition and a highly likely road game against a good MLS team to follow that, I'm actually going to do a complete 180 from my normal feeling on the USOC and suggest the Rapids punt the competition by sending a reserve side to Orlando.  The odds of us winning both those games and making it to the quarter-finals is low, while the team is finally getting healthy and putting together a decent string of results in league play.  There's no reason to risk more injuries to players like Buddle, Mastroeni, Powers, etc. by taking a number of first-team players across the country in mid-week between home matches against Western rivals in Chivas USA and Dallas.

If the backups and reserves beat Orlando and we find out we'll host the quarterfinal if we beat Sporting, the team can then consider sending a top side to KC, especially since the prior weekend will have been an international break and the team will be rested.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On The Road Again...

Tonight Orlando City SC beat the Ocala Stampede 2-1 in the 2nd round of the U.S. Open Cup.  That means Orlando will host the Rapids next Tuesday at 5:30pm MDT for their 3rd round matchup.  This makes the 27th road USOC or USOC qualifier for the Rapids in their history, including the last 11 straight.  They've play (and won) 4 total home matches in 17+ seasons.

Team #20 Announced, New York City Football Club

Today the league announced that New York City FC, jointly owned by Manchester City FC of the EPL and the NY Yankees of MLB, will become team 20 in 2015.  For personal reasons I was rooting for Orlando City SC as with my in-laws outside Orlando it would be a cheap road trip.  A number of fans are upset about the branding or attachment to an EPL side but it doesn't bother me.  Anyone willing to drop $100 million on an expansion fee and over $300 million on a stadium in NY isn't going to ignore their team like Vergara did with Chivas USA.

Presumably Houston, or maybe KC, will move to the West in 2015, leaving 10 teams in each conference.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Colorado Makes It Four Undefeated

The Rapids put together another solid outing on the road Saturday night, getting a 1-1 draw in San Jose.  They were a bit unlucky not to get the win however, being the better team for most of the match.  After a couple of early chances by San Jose, Colorado took control for most of the half.  Midway through it Rivero whipped in a corner to the near post and Nathan Sturgis redirected it inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.  If you had Sturgis as the goal-scorer int his one, well, you're lying. ;)  The Rapids ended the half Harris bringing down a long ball into the box, turning, and taking a quick shot that he slammed off the upper corner of the frame.

In the second half the Rapids continued their control of the game, but both sides were creating chances, and getting chippy.  After one card in the first half, five were given out in the second, most to the Rapids.  Finally the calls caught up to them as O'Neil had his hand in the wrong place "causing" Chavez to fall down and giving up a dangerous free kick.  On the kick Chavez hit a knuckleball around the wall that completely crossed-up Irwin to level the score.  Colorado wasn't done though, as off another corner Sturgis almost got his second, pinging one off the crossbar before a through ball beat the Rapids defense and Shane O'Neill had to haul down the attacker and earn a red card.  The Rapids saw out the game to get the point.

My key to the match was controlling the flanks.  Resting Mullan and starting Wynne helped, and Klute had a pretty good game on the other side to reduce the danger.

Random Thoughts:
  • With the draw the Rapids have gone 4 straight without a loss, 3 of which were on the road.  This is the first time Oscar Pareja has gone this long without a loss.
  • DeShorn Brown knocked the rust off from last game.  He had 3 great breakaways in this one, with one poor shot, one bad angle shot, and one great save stopping him from scoring.
  • Harris continued his streak of doing one good thing at a time, but not two.
  • Despite picking up two cards O'Neill had a pretty good game.  His yellow was very weak and his red probably saved the winning goal.
  • He was rewarded with a call-up to the U-20s for the Toulon tournament, along with Dillon Serna.  Serna will join the team right away but the Rapids have worked with Tab Ramos to keep O'Neill through the Dallas match on June 1st before releasing him.
  • The San Jose goal was the first time I really thought Irwin got beat on a shot he should have done better on.  The ball took a wicked swerve but that's where you need your goalkeeper to come up big.
  • Anthony Wallace in midfield was better than I would have first expected.
  • While Danny Mwanga...wasn't.  At this point that's looking like a poor trade.
  • Hey, we did sign Brenton Griffiths for a reason!
  • Powers was injured in training late on Friday, which is why he was a late scratch for the game.  On the bright side it allowed him to get back to SOuth Bend for his graduation ceremony Sunday morning.
  • I think we win the game had Buddle not been suspended.
Player of the Match: Martin Rivero.  This was a good example of what a full strength Rivero brings us.  His free and corner kicks were on target, his passing was strong, and generally the offense was running through him.  Hat tip to Sturgis for a solid game as well.

Friday, May 17, 2013

All The Young Punks

The Rapids will rely on their own Young Punks tomorrow

The relation of the image and title to tomorrow's game is left up to the reader to figure out, though if you've read this blog for more than a year you should already know.  The Rapids are in Norther California tomorrow to face the Earthquakes.  This is essentially a battle for 5th place and a chance for Oscar Pareja to get a 3rd win in a row and/or go 4 games without a defeat for the first time in his coaching career.  Game time tomorrow is late, at 8:30pm, on Altitude.  Big C38 party with post game entertainment and the kebab truck at the Armory.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture), MF Hendry Thomas (L hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jaime Smith (R groin strain), DF Marvell Wynne (R quad strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED: FW Edson Buddle (Disciplinary Committee action after tackle in Crew game)

FW Charles Eloundou, DF German Mera - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificates

Good to see the injury report move the right direction this week, with Smith and Wynne being upgraded.  They were both hoping to be able to make the trip to San Jose but neither are going to start.  The E-Quakes ahve 2 players out and 3 questionable so they're in better shape than we are (no surprise).  My guess at our XI:

There was some talk this week about giving Mullan and Powers some rest, but with the Buddle suspension I don't think Pareja will sit them this week.  Pablo could start in Sturgis' place but OP seems to like bringing him off the bench.

Key To Look For: Controlling the flanks.  San Jose likes to run the ball up the sides and get it into their strong forwards.  If we can cut off the supply then the Earthquakes, already finding it hard to score, will have  a much harder time.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Brown.  With Buddle I think we could pull a win, but the lack of a holding forward like Edson will make it difficult to control the game enough to keep San Jose off the board.  The Earthquakes defense is weak though, so Brown will find a way to get on.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Buddle Suspended, USOC Draw Revealed

Two bits of news.

  • Edson Buddle, as I expected, was suspended today for his stupid and dangerous tackle at midfield in the 2nd half of Saturday's game against the Crew.  He'll miss Saturday's game in San Jose.
  • The 3rd round draw for the U.S. Open Cup was posted.  The Rapdis will face the winner of next week's Ocala Stampede (PDL) - Orlando City (USL) match.  If lower-league side Ocala wins we'll host them on May 28th at 7pm MDT at the Dick.  If the more likely result of the higher-league side Orlando wins, we'll travel to Orlando to play them at 5:30pm MDT on May 28th.  Should we travel it will be our 11th straight road USOC or USOC Qualifier since we beat the California Victory at the Dick in 2007.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two-Wheeled Diversion

The 2013 USA Pro Challenge Host Cities

Time for one of my diversions into another of my favorite sports, pro cycling.  Yes, I know, its been a bad offseason for cycling with Lance Armstrong admitting what many people have known for a while.  He doped.  The sport shouldn't be seen from the perspective of its biggest failures though.  There's still plenty to enjoy and the newest generation coming into the sport, led by riders like Teejay Van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, and Peter Sagan, seem to understand that things have to change and are doing things the right way.

Right now is one of the best times to enjoy cycling with two big races going on this week.  The 2nd biggest stage race of the year, the Giro d' Italia, is into its second week in Italy.  In recent years the strategy in this race has made it less predictable than the Tour de France.  Unfortunately it appears that Boulder-based Garmin-SHARP will not be able to repeat their 2012 Giro win as defending champion Canadian Ryder Hesjedal had a rough time over the last few days and has lost significant time.  Also going on this week is the Tour of California which started in San Diego on Sunday and will end next Sunday in the Bay Area.  One of the most brutal stages I've ever seen happened yesterday as the stage finished on the Cat 1 tramway climb outside of Palm Springs, which set a record high at 114 degrees yesterday!  BMC's Teejay Van Garderen appears to be the favorite in the early days.

Both of these races are televised live each day in the States.
  • Giro d' Italia - beIn Sports, 7:30am MDT with the last two hours of the stage live (slightly different schedules on the weekend depending on their soccer and motorcycle coverage) - Channel 411 on Denver Comcast
  • Tour of California - NBC Sports Channel, 3pm MDT with the last two hours of the stage live (Sunday the stage will start on NBC then switch to NBC Sports) - Channel 689 on Denver Comcast
Of course this is warm up for the big race of the year, the Tour de France in July, which will be carried live on NBC Sports.  Then the 3rd USA Pro Challenge will take place here in Colorado in August, from the 19th-25th.  My favorite race, because its local, and NBC Sports will have the same sort of coverage they've had in the past, similar to what they're doing for the Tour of California.  Here's a quick breakdown of the stages:
  • Stage 1 - Aspen Circuit Race - 3 laps of a 22 mile circuit around Aspen/Snowmass, this is the first time a circuit stage has been used in the USA Pro Challenge.
  • Stage 2 - Aspen to Breckenridge - The annual summit of 12,000 Independence Pass, quickly becoming the signature of the race, happens early in the stage then the riders will be on to new roads as they swing through Buena Vista before heading North to Breckenridge.
  • Stage 3 - Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs - Almost the exact reverse of stage 5 in 2011, the riders will hit Rabbit Ears Pass right before the finish instead of right after the start.
  • Stage 4 - Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek - Again, almost the revers of Stage 4 in 2011.  We had a chance to go to Steamboat Springs for both the Stage 4 finish and Stage 5 start in 2011 and it was awesome.  If you're interested in seeing this sport in person its a great way to see both ends of a stage in one place.
  • Stage 5 - Vail Time Trial - The Coors Classic time trial returns to the race after being skipped in 2012.
  • Stage 6 - Loveland to Fort Collins - The race's first foray to the Northern part of the Front range.  Going up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park and back down, this would be the stage I'd like to watch if I could get up to Estes in time that morning.  Family commitments will prevent me from seeing it in person this year, so I hope its an successful stage and they'll return.
  • Stage 7 - Denver Circuit Race - Using much of the same course as they did in 2012 for the Denver Time Trial, the 9.4 mile circuit will take them through Writer Square and City Park before starting and finishing as always in front of the Capitol at Civic Center Park.
So that's the rundown of cycling right now.  As always the best local coverage of pro cycling can be forund over at Pedal Dancer.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rapids Unship The Crew

Colorado played perhaps its most complete game of the season as they picked up a solid win in Columbus for the first time since 2004.  The Rapids got on the board early of a long clearance from Irwin that Buddle headed to Mwanga.  Danny saw Harris in the box and chipped it to him.  He was able to flick it into Buddle's path and Edson settled it and beat the keeper far post for a 1-0 lead after 8 minutes.

The Crew hand a number of chances early, including one just 22 seconds in, but couldn't convert them.  After the first 25-30 minutes though the Rapids really got control of the game and wouldn't give it back.  The stats don't show it however, as the Crew overall had more chances, but every real chance they got they either misfired or put it right at Irwin.  He didn't have to stretch to make a save all night.

Midway through the second half Colorado finished off the game.  Rivero served in a free kick from near the corner that pinged off a Crew defender as Harris took a swing at it.  The ball bounced out to Powers in the D at the to of the box and he took a low shot that deflected off a Crew defender for a goal.  At 2-0 and with the Crew not having many ideas the game was essentially over.

My key to the match was getting a shutout.  Achievement unlocked.

Random Thoughts:
  • Apparently only two of the four question marks to start was enough, my prediction of needing three of the four was a bit off.
  • Great to see Rivero getting his first start of the season.  We're going to need him to get through the summer.
  • Buddle's goal could have been waved off due to a hand ball.  Edson used his shoulder and/or upper arm to settle it.  There's no clear view to see one way or the other but its very close.
  • Arrieta should have seen red and not yellow for the arm to Moor's face.  It was similar to the hit Moor rightfully got red carded and suspended for in LA.
  • Buddle should have seen red for his tackle he got a yellow on as well.  No chance to play the ball and two-footed.  I wouldn't be shocked if both Buddle and Arietta get sat down by the Disciplinary Committee this week.
  • Our second 2-goal performance of the season was nice to see.
  • Hat tip to Harris for the assist on Buddle's goal.  He's been my whipping boy this year so its only right that I should point out when he does something good.
  • The Mullan experiment at right back needs to end as soon as Wynne is healthy.  He's gotten beat like a drum the last two games.  Something to look for in the summer transfer window.
  • Otherwise the defense had a solid and quiet game, which you like to see.
  • Brown really looked rusty after his injury, hopefully he shakes that off by next week.
  • For a guy who's supposed to be fast, Mwanga...isn't.
  • After our 0-2-3 start we're now 4-1-1 over the last 6 games.  Maybe the team is figuring it out?
Player of the Match: Dillon Powers.  OK, so I took the easy road and picked a goal-scorer but nobody stood out among the group in a good team effort and Buddle was ruled out due to his rash tackle.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Forces Gather In Ohio

Ohio During The War of 1812

200 years ago next month the War of 1812 started.  Prior to the U.S. actually declaring war, forces gathered around Dayton, Ohio in May in preparation.  200 years later, just down I-70, the forces of the Rapids will gather in Columbus to face the Crew tomorrow.  Kickoff is at 5:30pm MDT on Altitude.  Official watch parties are scheduled up and down the Front Range (except in Boulder due to CU's graduation ceremonies today) with the primary Denver party at the British Bulldog.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery), MF Jaime Castrillon (R knee surgery), GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture), MF Hendry Thomas (L hamstring strain), MF Jaime Smith (R groin strain), DF Marvell Wynne (R quad strain)

FW Charles Eloundou, DF German Mera - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificates

Well everybody is either out or available, that's something, but Castrillon took a step backwards this week and Smith was added to the Out list.  Reportedly Buddle, Brown, Mastroeni, and Rivero all traveled to Columbus yesterday.  The Crew have one player out and one player questionable, so they're in better shape than we are.  My guess at our starting XI:

This is assuming the best case scenario that Brown, Buddle, Mastroeni, and Rivero can all start.  Assuming they can't we'll see some combination of Hill, LaBrocca, Mwanga, and Sturgis in their places.  Obviously the chances for the team go down as the ability for those four to start drops.

Key To Look For: Getting a shutout.  We've only scored more than a goal once this season, and the Crew have been shut out twice in their last three games.  If we can keep a goose egg on the scoreboard then we have a shot at all 3 points.  Otherwise we'll have to hope for a draw.

Prediction: 1-0 win if at least 3 of the 4 start, goal by Brown.  0-0 draw otherwise.  I think we can keep Columbus off the board but I'm not sure we can score unless we have at least two of the three attacking players starting.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Player Salaries

The 2013 Salary List is out, here are the Rapids salaries:



For comparison, here are the 2012 salaries.  Some notes:
  • More than $10K Raises:
    • Cascio - $20K
    • Ceus - $16K/$26K
    • Klute - $13K
    • Moor - $35K
    • Mullan - $10K
    • Pickens - $12K/$31K
    • Rivero - $25K
    • Total - $131K/$160K
  • Reductions:
    • Mastroeni - $90K/$45K
    • Smith - $102K/$112K
    • Wynne - $50K/$45K
    • Total - $242K/$202K
  • As you can see, any raises we gave out were more than covered by the new contracts to Mastroeni, Smith, and Wynne.  Smith really took a big hit which shows how much he had to work himself onto the team in preseason.
  • The 2013 salary cap is 2.95 million, but only the top 20 players count towards the cap.  The Rapids top 20 have a base of 2.51 million and a guaranteed of 2.88 million.  That gives us a little wiggle room to fit in Mera.
  • Clint Irwin at $35K is the steal of the league.  Given that he was the 3rd string keeper when he signed the contract I can't say he deserved more, but safe bet that in 2014 he'll be making significantly more.
  • Rivero, Calderon, Castrillon, and Klute are all steals at $75K or less (assuming they recover from injury).
  • On the flip side, we're paying Buddle $275K?  Harris $173K?  Mwanga $171K?  Talk about wasted money.
  • Buddle's number is particularly annoying when you look at Philly's list and see Casey is only making $175K.  The face that he took that amount to leave his hometown means we could have signed him for somewhere under $250K, which would have been a very smart move.  Buddle has a lot to live up to when he gets healthy.
  • Meanwhile Cummings is getting $225K/$239K.  Good move to trade him when we did as he hasn't deserved that money since 2010.
  • Larentowicz is making $225K/$231K, so essentially we could have him or Thomas.  I can't say we made a poor choice.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Send In The Clowns

That was a lousy game to watch as a neutral fan, worse as a Toronto fan.  It probably wasn't very pleasant to watch as a Rapids fan but at least we can 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 (Toronto) were absolute clowns and one team (Colorado) were merely lousy.

If that opening sounds familiar, its because its almost the exact same opening I used 2 weeks ago after the Seattle game.  Amazingly, after a great performance in Houston, the Rapids managed to make this game worse than that one, and I thought that one set the league back 5 years!  Seriously, go find some circus music to play in the background while you watch this game.  Players slipping all over, nobody able to hit a pass, and Toronto managed to play the ball out of bounds on a simple pass more than once!  In the 70th minute Toronto took an attacking free kick so bad I still don;'t know if it was a cross or a shot, but the person closest to playing it was manning the beer line in the Terraces.  At that point I officially declared the game a farce and did my best impression of this:

OK, so I didn't actually leave, but I was seriously tempted to.  The Rapids won this game in the only way possible, when two TFC defenders slipped, leaving Buddle with a wide open shot that he still managed to put right over the keeper, but the keeper whiffed.

Seriously, the Rapids should take the 3 points and run.  There's nothing to learn from this game other than maybe who shouldn't start again.
Player of the Match: Clint Irwin.  The only player to not look completely lost at some point during the game.

Rapids sign Mera on loan from Deportivo Cali

Game recap tonight (if I can quit laughing about it long enough to write it), salary discussion tomorrow, but first this.  Colorado just announced that they've signed German Mera, a big left-footed centerback on loan from Deportivo Cali until the end of the season.  He fills the roster and international spot freed up by Calderon (or Castrillon, or Harbottle) being on IR.  If, somehow all 9 internationals get healthy at the same time one of them will have to be cut, but the way our season  has gone that seems unlikely anytime soon.

Mera is 23 years old and has played his whole professional career under contract with Cali, but has been loaned to multiple sides in his career.  He's appeared 56 times for Cali in 3 seasons.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Canadian Invasion Starts Tomorrow

Maple-Drizzled Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs at the tailgate

One of our annual invasions from Canada this week as Toronto comes to down for the only meeting of the year.  TFC had a mid-week game in Canada's version of the U.S. Open Cup, where they lost 6-0 to their rivals from Montreal.  So they're either going to be ready to put a beat down on the Rapids or completely whipped and ready to slink home.  As you can see, there will be a limited number of treats honoring our guests at the tailgate so get their early.  The food starts at 4pm with kickoff at 7.  Those of you who can't make it can watch the game on Altitude, or on MLS Live outside of Altitude's range as its the free streaming game of the week.

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

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

The Rapids added Thomas and removed Rivero and Mastroeni from the injury report, so I guess that's a step in the right direction.  Buddle and Brown are both expected to be available off the bench as well, but not start.  Toronto has 3 players out and 2 questionable on the injury report.  My guess at our starting XI:

This is a real guess this week as with both Pablo and Rivero available I'm not sure how the lineup might shift. I'm assuming that since they aren't on the injury report both Pablo and Rivero are available to start.  Assuming so, with Thomas' injury, Pablo is the obvious replacement and Rivero is too key to not start, though I don't see how you can bench Powers.  So trying to find a midfield where all 3 of those guys fit in is a bit tricky.  The 4th could be either Smith or Cascio (or even Mwanga) but Smith has looked the best so far.  Up front Harris seems to be a lock, inexplicably, and I think Mwanga has shown slightly better than Hill.

Key To Look For: Can our offense find the back of the net?  I'm not real scared of Toronto putting up a large number of goals, so if we can get more than 1 we stand a good chance of winning.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Smith and Brown.  Smith will get the Rapids up early and Brown will come off the bench to get the game-winner after Toronto levels the score.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Timbers Lose To Lower League Side

Watch these highlights!

At lunchtime today the Timbers faced local side Green Machine and lost 10-9!

Green Machine being the club of 8-year old Atticus Lane-Dupre, who missed the end of the fall season with his team while fighting cancer. Through the Make-A-Wish foundation what he wanted to do was play the Portland Timbers with his Green Machine teammates, and the Timbers organization along with the Timbers Army went all out to make his wish come true.  About 3000 members of the Timbers Army showed up at Jeld-Wen Field at lunchtime today to root for the Green Machine and boo the Timbers, and Timbers players Will Johnson,  Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, and Mikael Silvestre started against them.  The power of the Green Machine, led by Atticus' 4 goals (including the game winner), was too much for the Timbers though.

The Timbers Army made sure each of the kids had their own tifo, and Timber Joey cut a slice of the log for Atticus that he made sure the rest of his teammates got to hold.  In his man of the match post-game interview Atticus said he wanted to choose something that lots of people could do for his wish, instead of just going to Disneyland or something, and he said his favorite goal was when he nutmegged Will Johnson (his favorite player).  Johnson later got red carded in the match. ;)

This has nothing to do with the Rapids, but I've never seen a sports organization go this all out for something like this (not to downplay the great things other organizations have done for kids) and I wanted to call attention to it.