Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rapids Release Harbottle

Today the Rapids release Kevin Harbottle.  He played in 4 games early this season but was only an occasional bench player after his injury.  Hard to justify a 180K contract for that.  This may also open up cap space for a Torres signing, but the rules are a little unclear on that.

As far as roster spots go, the Rapids are at 28 + Eloundou now.  The rumored signings of Sanchez and Torres would put them at the cap of 30, with Eloundou not yet on the roster.  Calderon being on IR also frees up a spot.

This also puts us at 6 international spots used, out of 9, plus Eloundou.  Torres and Sanchez would put us at 8 with one spot still open for Eloundou if he ever shows.

ADDENDUM:  Colorado is also loaning Davy Armstrong to Phoenix FC in the USL for the last 3 games of their season, including tonight's game.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rumored Signing Updates

Remember last Wednesday when the news broke that the Rapids were signing Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres?  That he would likely be the team's first Designated Player?  Well he was reportedly coming to Denver yesterday for a workout.  He's not here yet and tonight he tweeted this an hour ago:
Buenas noches seƱores hasta este momento nada es oficial se esta en negociaciones con diferentes clubes pronto se sabra el club oficial !
Which translated is:
 Good evening gentlemen so far nothing is official is in negotiations with several clubs soon will know the official club!
 To me, these aren't positive signs.  Maybe this is just a last minute negotiating ploy from his agent, but the Rapids have been fairly open about their plans to sign Torres.  There have been articles on and the Denver Post confirming that he's being signed and talking about how excited the Front Office is about it.  If it were to now fall apart, there would be a lot of egg on the face of the Rapids with only a week to do something about it before the close of the transfer window.

Coincidentally or not there were rumors today, apparently confirmed by the player's Twitter, that the Rapids will be signing 33-year old Uruguayan striker Vicente Sanchez.  Sanchez has played for Toluca and Club America in Liga MX, with a stint at German side Schalke 04 in-between them.  He was with Nacional in Uruguay last season but is apparently fe up with them and ready to move North.

We'll see if the Rapids sign Torres, Sanchez, both, or neither.

UPDATE: Despite Torres' tweet, Chris Bianchi (Rapids beat writer for has tweeted tonight that he's been assured the Torres signing is still on, expected to be wrapped up this week.  Good news.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tough Game, Unless You've Got POWERS!!!

A great result for the Rapids Saturday night as they vaulted into 2nd place with a 2-0 win over the Galaxy.  The game started on a sour note though as Hendry Thomas could have easily been given a red card within 10 minutes, with two back tackles that netted him (luckily) a stern talking to and a yellow card.  After that though it was more soccer and less rugby.  Ten minutes in Buddle put a long shot on target but it was no threat to go in.  After an off yellow card that probably could have gone against Thomas for breaking up an attack but went against Juninho in the 29th minute the Rapids kept the pressure on and broke through in the 41st.  Hendry Thomas headed home a corner from Dillon Powers to give the Rapids the lead going into half.  Wynne had another easy shot saved right before half.

Right after the break Colorado put the game away.  Powers played a nice give and go with Buddle, putting the rookie in on goal with only the keeper to beat.  A poor flapping attempt at the ball and a good shot from Dillon gave the Rapids a 2-0 lead before LA had a shot on goal.   Right after Colorado doubled the lead the Galaxy got their first shot on target with a long low shot that Irwin easily swallowed.  After that both teams had some great chances that they couldn't get on target, and LA and one weak shot before the home team claimed the 3 points.

My key to the match was defense.  LA made it easy but you can't complain about a shutout.

Random Thoughts:
  • Hendry Thomas will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation for the Rocky Mountain Cup match next week due to his yellow.  If he's lucky he won't get any more punishment from the Disciplinary Committee.
  • Deshorn Brown limped off late int he game but it was just cramps, he'll be fine.
  • Nick LaBrocca however was pulled in the 35th minute with a groin injury, no update on his status yet.
  • Shane O'Neill got through the game without a yellow, so he'll have one knocked off his total for 3 games of good behavior.
  • Buddle had the assist, but he blew two gift-wrapped chances.  With Torres coming in (hopefully) you have to think Buddle is heading to the bench.
  • Everyone got a kick over Pablo getting carded for dissent.  Just like the old days.
  • With the win the Rapids move up to second in the West on points but only sixth on points/game.  more later this week on why that doesn't worry me as much as you might think at first glance.
  • First in the West?  FaKe SaLt LaKe, our next opponent.
  • Of course the battle in the standings pales in comparison to what's really on the line this week, the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Player of the Match: Dillon Powers.  A goal and an assist to give him 4 of each on the year and a lead in the Rookie of the Year competition.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Return of Pablo Mastroeni

The greatest to ever wear the shirt

Tomorrow the Rapids former captain and record holder in a number of categories, Pablo Mastroeni, makes his first ever appearance at the Dick playing for the opposition.  He and his LA Galaxy teammates are in town for an nationally televised match on ESPN2.  Because of the TV coverage kickoff is an unusual 5pm kickoff so the tailgate starts at 2pm tomorrow.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT YELLOWS: DF Shane O'Neill (1 game left for good behavior reduction); MF Hendry Thomas
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOWS: MF Dillon Powers; MF Nathan Sturgis

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

The smallest unavailable report of the season, though reports are that Rivero will not make the 18 tomorrow.  LA has 3 out injured and a couple of big names with the U.S, Nats for the Gold Cup final on Sunday.  The biggest missing names are Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.  My guess on the Rapids XI tomorrow:

We could see LaBrocca instead of one of the forwards in more of a 4-4-2 alignment but my guess is that we stick with more of the 4-3-3.  Mera is always a possibility in the back but I got the feeling that this back 4 is the primary line Pareja is going to use.

Key To Look For: Defense.  LA is missing most of their high-powered attack, so keeping them off the board is the way to 3 points.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Brown.  This feels a bit optimistic, but the Rapids are on a good roll right now and with LA weakened there's not a better chance to pick up 3 points from one of the league's premier teams.  The home field advantage will be just the edge we need.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rapids To Sign Gabriel Torres?

Both Chris Bianchi who writes for and a poster on BigSoccer who has had good information in the past are reporting that the Rapids are set to announce the signing of Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres in the near future.  Tim Hinchey seems to back that up with this tweet before tonight's Mexico-Panama Gold Cup semifinal:
Will be watching the Panama squad carefully! Wink wink
10 minutes ago Torres set up the go ahead goal for Panama, putting them up 2-1 in now the 70th minute.

Torres is 24 years old, and is one of Panama's top prospects.  He has been with Zamora FC in Venezuela the last couple of seasons, scoring 32 times in 68 appearances with them.  He's also been invited to train with Manchester United twice and Valencia C.F. once.  Torres has appeared 39 times for Panama (including tonight), scoring 7 times.

I wonder if former Rapids and current Panama assistant coach Jorge Dely Valdes had any help in this (Jorge's twin brother Julio is Panama's head coach).

UPDATE: Reportedly he'll be the Rapids first Designated Player.

Conor Doyle & Charles Eloundou

Last week Derby County's American striker Conor Doyle was given to DC United on loan through a lottery.  On its own, no big deal.  The catch though is that he had been training with the Rapids for the last few weeks due to Tim Hinchey's connections at Derby County (He was head of Marketing there before coming to Colorado) and possibly Pareja's contacts with Doyle as Conor was a youth player in Dallas when Pareja was running FC Dallas' youth program.  Colorado had arrange the training and did the work to get him in MLS through a loan, only to be told they couldn't sign him and he'd have to go through the MLS lottery process since he's a former U.S. youth international, a lottery process Colorado couldn't participate in due to their winning of the Charles Eloundou lottery before the season.

Meanwhile on the Charles Eloundou front there's been no news.  Well that's not entirely true.  A month or so ago Cameroon's FA (FECAFOOT) was put on suspension by FIFA due to government interference in their recent elections.  First they re-elected their current head, who was in jail on charges of mismanaging and embezzling from the state cotton corporation.  He also founded and runs Coton Sport, Eloundou's current club.  This week FIFA dropped the suspension as an independent group have taken over control of FECAFOOT working towards new elections next spring.  With that out of the way maybe FIFA will get around to making a decision on the protest the Rapids asked USSF to file over Eloundou.

So to summarize at this point:

1. MLS signs (presumably legally and with correct contracts) Eloundou
2. MLS awards Eloundou to Colorado in lottery
3. Eloundou doesn't show up due to corruption in the Cameroonian FA
4. Rapids do (apparently) all the work to get Eloundou here, so far unsuccessfully, while MLS does nothing
5. Rapids do the work to get Conor Doyle here due to still needing striker depth with the absence of Eloundou and uses their contacts at Derby County (and possibly between former Dallas soccer connections in Pareja and Doyle) to do it
6. MLS says Rapids can't have Doyle because he has to go in a lottery which Rapids can't participate in due to Eloundou

So the Rapids have done the work to get two young strikers into MLS, and currently have neither one on their team.  While everything has followed the MLS rules, I don't see how anyone could consider it a just result.

The league's history is littered with machinations and rule changes to get players to specific teams.  Personally I think the Rapids were given a wink and a nod by someone in MLS HQ that MLS would "work it out" when it came to Doyle, only for the league to decide to follow the rules on this one when push came to shove.  Doyle seems to have a similar feeling:
Did you expect to end up with the Rapids?“I don’t know. I was given a lot of mixed signals. I was told I would. And then they were like, ‘We have to go through this [MLS process].’ And then I was told I would still [end up with Colorado]. Then I actually signed the papers [with MLS] and they were like, ‘Well, there are three teams in the lottery, so you are not going to end up here.’ ”
I'm generally not a fan of MLS's flexible rules so I'm not too upset that the Rapids didn't just get Doyle.  I think a fair result would have been for the league and Rapids to give up on Eloundou and give the Rapids Doyle in his place as a way of making up for MLS's screw-up in signing somebody they apparently couldn't deliver.  The second option, assuming the they still have hope that they'll get Eloundou, would have been for MLS (not the Rapids) to make a statement on the status of the case and how they managed to sign a player and give him to a team without being able to actually get that player to show up, thus costing that team a chance at other players later in the season.

From my point of view it seems like MLS has signed a player, taken away the Rapids lottery spot, and then told the Rapids "He's all yours if you can get him to show up, good luck with that, no returns."  Then they took the work that the Rapids did on Doyle and said "Thanks, he's DC's now, but we appreciate the work."  time for MLS to take some of that money and single-entity power and get some work done for their teams, instead of the other way around.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rapids Get First Point In Seattle

A sloppy, ugly game in Seattle finally got us our first result in the Emerald City, a 1-1 draw.  In the first half Seattle had two shots on goal in the first 10 minutes that Irwin saved and that was as close as either team got to the goal for 45 minutes.  The pressure from Seattle increased in the second half but it was Colorado who struck first.  In the 60th minute LaBrocca swung a corner into the box.  Somehow Drew Moor was left unmarked and after Seattle's 4th-string keeper flapped at the ball Moor headed it home for the 1-0 lead.

Alas, as we've seen far too often, the lead wouldn't last long.  Five minutes later O'Neill got suckered in too close to Lamar Neagle, who spun him but put his shot off the far post.  The ball pinged back out to the top of the box where DeAndre Yedlin hammered it back in.  Clint Irwin made a big stop scrambling back from his first attempted save but the punch when right back to Yedlin who headed into the wide open far side.  Seattle would keep the pressure up with Drew Moor heading a ball off the line in the 82nd minute to preserve the tie.  Meanwhile a Hendry Thomas long shot would be the only other shot on goal the Rapids would have.  Going back to my prediction:
1-1 draw, goal by Sturgis.  The Rapids get their first point in Seattle on the back of a former Sounder.  Seattle pushes for the winner late but Colorado survives.
I had the wrong unlikely scorer but otherwise that's pretty close to how the game played out.

My key to the match was pressuring Seattle, something we did very little of.  The weakened Seattle did most of the pressuring.

Random Thoughts:
  • LaBrocca almost had a golazo on the corner kick.  I'm not sure it would have gone in without Moor heading it,  but it was close.
  • O'Neill got fooled like you expect a rookie to get fooled from time to time.  The key is that he learns from it.
  • Pareja's subs were very strange int his game.  Powers for Buddle just before the goals, which removed whatever cohesiveness we had in midfield.  Wynne for Mera immediately after Seattle's goal which seemed to be a sub planned before Seattle scored but then not pulled back, and Brown for Wallace which was throwing in the towel and holding on for the draw with 15 minutes to play.
  • Buddle was completely useless, again.
  • Martins had two really blatant dives, one to try to get a PK in the first half that the ref didn't buy and one in the second half that set up a good attacking chance.  Somebody with his skill set shouldn't need to stoop to such tactics, but he does it because the game mainly the refs) reward him for it.
  • Two shots on goal all game, one from a central defender and one from a defensive midfielder.  Considering the Sounders had their 4th-string keeper in, complete failure from the offense.  We should have been shelling the goal.
  • Generally the team looked very slow.  There wasn't much movement at all.  Mid-day game, on turf, after playing on Wednesday might explain part of it but it was generally a poor performance.
  • Since going 5 games without a win to start the season we've played the following 17 games (half the season) at just over 1.7 pts/game.  That would be just behind KC and 3rd overall in the league.  It shows how well we've actually been playing since that slow start but also how costly a short slip in form can be.
Player of the Match: Drew Moor.  Scored a goal, saved a goal, wasn't at fault on Seattle's goal, and pretty much organized a good defense.  You can't ask for much more out of your captain.

Friday, July 19, 2013

8th Time The Charm In Seattle?

The Sounders are a bunch of pigs!

In 7 competitive games in Seattle in their history the Rapids have lost 7 times, with 5 goals scored and 18 allowed.  They hope to turn that around tomorrow as they're back in my hometown.  I'd really like them to as I'm getting really tired of my relatives holding that over me (though I can trump them as we have a star on our jerseys).  Its an important match for both teams as they're both trying to improve their positioning for the playoff run and there's probably only room for one of the two teams (at most) in the top 5.  Game time tomorrow is an early 2pm start for some reason and the game is on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Kory Kindle (L ankle sprain); MF Martin Rivero (L quad strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER NEXT YELLOWS: DF Shane O'Neill (2 games left for good behavior reduction); MF Hendry Thomas

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Between 10 injuries and callups Seattle will barely be able to dress 18 healthy players so they're hurting.  They're on their 4th string goalkeeper and Eddie Johnson has just been called up to the Gold Cup squad.  The Rapids are healthy but tired after their midweek match.  I expect some changes in the starting XI due to that and the turf:

If this game wasn't on turf Rivero might start in place of Powers, but I doubt they want to risk Martin's legs coming off of injury.  Brown will be an attacking sub off the bench if we need a goal.

Key To Look For: Pressuring Seattle.  With their injury situation and some of the less experience players they'll likely play, like their GK, push then hard and hope they break.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Sturgis.  The Rapids get their first point in Seattle on the back of a former Sounder.  Seattle pushes for the winner late but Colorado survives.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Behold The Power Of Jameson!

To any that doubt the power of Jameson, an own goal to get the win should convince you otherwise. :D  The Rapids played a lousy first half and a better second half, with a bit of luck, to get a 2-1 win and continue their undefeated Jameson Night streak.  That said, the first half was pretty bad soccer.  Buddle had a weak shot on target and that's the closest the Rapids got to a goal (though Brown had a couple of dangerous chances that once again he failed to get on target.  New England had one shot on goal, but they finished it.  After a foul for an unlucky handball Toja lined up the free kick form outside the box.  In a clearly pre-planned play Bengston peeled off and ran across the top of the 6 yard box as Toja struck the ball.  Bengston leaped over the oncoming ball and it found the back of the net for a 1-0 Revs lead.

The second half was a significant step up for the Rapids.  On target they outshot New England 4-1, and in the 62nd minute they made one count.  Powers played a square ball in the attacking third to LaBrocca.  After shaking his defender he hammered it from about 20 yards out and beat the keeper in the near lower post to tie the game.  5 minutes later the Rapids struck again.  Wynne picked up a loose ball in midfield and found Powers on the right side near the box.  Dillon pushed the ball to the end line and crossed it through the box.  Revs defender Goncalves tried to play it out past the near post but actually redirected it into the net for a 2-1 Rapids lead!  After that it was a matter of good defense snuffing out a couple of Revs chances.  Brown got in 1 on 1 with the keeper but couldn't finish, as did Klute, but the good guys got the win.

My key to the match was putting the ball in the net.  New England idd it more than us, but we still won 2-1. ;)

Random Thoughts:
  • The Rapids are now 8 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses when Jameson Night is held, outscoring New England 28-12.
  • LaBrocca had a woeful first half that improved significantly in the 2nd, especially after the goal.
  • Bengston's flash across the box may have distracted Klute on the goal but it was bad read by him.  Bengston was offside but since he didn't actually play the ball it wasn't called.
  • Powers play for the own goal looked a great deal like Kandji's play for the own goal in MLS Cup.  Without the blown ACL of course.
  • Apparently the GK decision has been made, and Irwin is now the #1.  I bet he's on a short leash though.
  • Thomas really struggled in the first half, taking him out for Harris actually helped the game a lot.
  • Did anyone see Buddle last night?  I was at the game and he was in the starting XI, but I didn't see him.
  • Brown's weakness is apparently 1 v 1 with keepers.  He blew another great chance, he's got to figure that out if he's going to make it.
  • Klute also blew the 1 v 1 he had, but as a defender that's a little more understandable.
  • After going almost exactly 8 years without winning a regular season game we were losing at half we've done it twice in the last 4 games.
  • A great start to this critical 4 game stretch.  If we can go .500 over the next 3 games now we'll be in good shape.
Player of the Match: Marvell Wynne.  Any danger we had in the offense int eh first half came through him it seemed, and he had the (easy) pass to set up Powers for the own goal.  A good match for him returning to the starting XI.  His return also marked his 100th appearance for the Rapids, the 15th player to hit that mark.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jameson Night Is Back!

After a year off its the (almost) Annual Jameson Night!

For the 12th time in 12 seasons the Rapids supporters will hold Jameson Night.  Held every time New England has come to down since 2002 (save once) the Rapids have never failed to get a least a point after the annual whiskey tailgate.  I wrote up the history of the tradition in 2010, since then we've added a 3-0 win and a 2-2 draw.  For a favorite event like this the tailgate will stick with its normal 3 hour format tomorrow, despite being a weekday, with the grills (and probably the Jameson) starting at 4pm.  Those who can't make it can watch the game on Altitude at 7.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)

Disciplinary Report:

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

Reportedly Calderon (and obviously, Eloundou) was the only player not available for training yesterday, which has to be a first this season.  The Revs have a player suspended and a couple injured, so they're actually in worst shape than us.  My guess at the XI:

Of course with so many players healthy there's a whole lot of guessing in this one.  Pickens, Mullan, Wynne, Rivero, and Castrillon could all get starts so we'll see what Pareja rolls out there.  My bet is that Rivero doesn't get the start though, being the most recent recovery from injury.

Key To Look For: Putting the ball in the net.  The Revs have the best defense in the league while their offense is only slightly better than the Rapids.  With some of our shooting issues, we need to take full advantage of any opportunity we get.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Brown.  This won't be a pretty game with a couple of stingy defenses on display.  New England will tire, having played on the weekend, traveled, and them playing at altitude, which will allow Brown's speed to get him in for the winning goal.  A goal fueled by the power of Jameson. :D

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rapids Lose To Santos Laguna

Friday night's friendly resulted in a 2-1 loss by Colorado, which is an improvement over what happened two years ago in CCL play (4-1 loss at the Dick in an overall embarrassing night for the organization, 2-0 loss in Torreon).  Reports are that Santos carried the majority of the play, but the Rapids scored on a gorgeous 30-yard free kick from Kevin Harbottle and almost tied it at the death when Dillon Serna had a gift-wrapped chance but sent it wide.  Here's our starting XI:

Griffiths, Armstrong, Smith, Hill, and Serna all got time in the 2nd half as well.  Steward Ceus is the only player who traveled and didn't play.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rapids Buy Klute, Leave For ABQ

Two pieces of news today, one big.  Colorado has bought out Chris Klute's loan now that the transfer window has opened, making him a full member of the Rapids.  Great move by the team, Klute has a chance to be a mainstay at left back for the next few years.  He's also being talked about as a possible Nats team call up.  If it happens it will probably be for Camp Strudel in January, though my bet is that he doesn't get a sniff until after the 2014 World Cup.

17 players also left today for Albuquerque to face Santos Laguna in the friendly tomorrow night.  The group that went includes Pickens, Ceus, Mera, O'Neill, Mullan, Wynne, Armstrong, Griffiths, Serna, Harbottle, LaBrocca, Wallace, Smith, Castrillon, Mwanga, Hill, and Cascio.  Kory Kindle would have made the trip as well except he picked up a knock in training yesterday and was kept in Denver to recover.  Dave Dir and Paul Caffrey remained in Denver to handle training sessions with the players that didn't travel while Pareja too assistants Steve Cooke and Chris Sharpe with him to ABQ.  Wilmer Cabrera is still in Turkey at the U-20 World Cup.

Unfortunately there will be no streaming options for the friendly tomorrow, the only way to follow it will probably be Twitter updates.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rapids Shoot Blanks Against United

23 attempts on goal.  7 shots on target.  0 goals.  That's the story of the game.  The Rapids were clearly the better team last night (DC only had 6 attempts on goal and 2 shots on target) but were left with a 0-0 draw to show for the effort.  Colorado let great chance after great chance slip by with shots off target and when they did get the ball going the right way DC's backup keeper had a blinder of a game to preserve the shutout.  The few times DC did get into a dangerous position the defense shut them down or Clint Irwin was up to the challenge (or occasionally, DC just wasted the chance).  A frustrating result for the home team.

My key to the match was not to play to our opponents level.  Too many of our players did which led to the scoreless draw.

Random Thoughts:
  • Chris Klute has had a great 8 day stretch between Montreal, NY, and DC.  He had a couple of questionable defensive passes last night but almost everything good in our offense came through him.
  • Shane O'Neill meanwhile struggled at times, picking up a yellow and being on the edge of a second before Pareja wisely pulled him.
  • Mera is growing on me at CB.  I'm not sold yet but I like his size on free kicks,
  • Hendry Thomas picked up a very early yellow and after that he was mentally out of this game.
  • Buddle?  Hey Buddle?  You do realize you're getting paid to play, not just stand around, right?
  • Now I'm going to call out some of my fellow fans.  A number of you need to learn the rules before cussing out the refs like you were doing last night.  The refs weren't anywhere near worthy of the level of vitriol they got from 108 last night (and honestly, its been happening for a couple of games).
  • That said, the time-wasting DC was allowed to get away with was pretty bad.  The ref should have cracked down on it better.
  • I've heard a few people using this game as an example of why Pareja can't coach.  23 chances on net, what more do you want him to do?  Clearly his tactics worked, at some point the players have to do their job and just put the ball in the net.
Player of the Match: Deshorn Brown.  Yes he should have scored on of his many chances, but he had 8 shots, 4 on goal.  The other 27 players who played had 5 shots on goal total.  Brown wanted the win and was the most dangerous player on the field, he just couldn't convert.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colorado Goes For Three In A Row Against League's Worst

Rapids Hope To Flood DC's Defense

Colorado has a chance tomorrow night to get their first 3-game winning streak under Oscar Pareja, and they couldn't ask for a better team to be facing, DC United who has yet to get to double-digit points this season.  DC historically struggles at elevation as well, their win in 2010 while Gary Smith rested some players pre-playoffs was their only one this millennium.  Game time tomorrow is a later 7:30pm start, with another round of fireworks post-game.  Those who can't make it can watch on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture); MF Martin Rivero (L quad strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOWS: DF Shane O'Neill; MF Dillon Powers; MF Hendry Thomas

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

No changes from Thursday night for the Rapids, other than Thomas has stepped back from the suspension cliff after 3 games on good behavior.  DC has 5 players out injured, plus starting GK Bill Hamid is with the U.S. Gold Cup team.  What seems to be more of a guess than a good hunch of our starting XI:

Pareja seemed very happy with his back line against NY so I don't expect any changes there.  Brown seems to be our second-half super-sub so event hough he deserves to start I expect he'll stay in that role at least through this game.  You could see a Mullan or Castrillon start in the midfield possible, but I think PAreja will roll out the same XI we saw against NY.

Key To Look For: Don't play to our opponent's level.  DC is a lousy team this year and we just need to go out, take care of business, and put them away early.  The longer we let them stay in the game the more confidence they'll gain.  End it early.

Prediction: 3-0 win, goals by Buddle, Harris, and Brown.  The first 20 minutes or so the Rapids will give long-term fans flashbacks of Colorado blowing games they should win, but after settling down the Rapids will control the game and rack up some goals.  Brown comes off the bench for his 3rd goal as a sub in 3 games while Harris will keep pace in the race for the Rapids golden boot.  Buddle will finally play like he cares as well.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Late Fireworks Before Late Fireworks In Rapids Win

After a dull first half with a whopping total of 1 shot on goal combined from the teams (a Sturgis shot easily saved) things got more interested in in the second half.  Right after the break a corner from Powers pinballed around the box.  First a shot from Buddle was blocked by Sturgis (whoops).  The deflection fell to Moor who put it on target only to have ti saved off the line.  The rebound from that fell to Sturgis who put it into the roof of the net for the 1-0 lead.  20 minutes later Klute brought the ball down the left side and crossed it into the box.  The cross was cleared but Klute followed it up, stole the ball, and crossed it again, this time finding a charging Deshorn Brown who volleyed it into the net for a 2-0 lead.  Colorado would control the rest of the game with NY only getting 1 shot on goal, a chip from Henry that Irwin made a nice parry on to preserve the shutout.

My key to the match was defense.  Holding a team with Cahill and Henry scoreless is about as much as you can ask.

Random Thoughts:
  • Great match overall from the team.  NY never looked threatening.  The only negative was the lack of offense in the first half, something that was solved in the 2nd.
  • Shane O'Neill at right back and Mera in the center was a surprise.  Still not sold on Mera but O'Neill did a good job in his new position.
  • You can't ask for more than Brown has given off the bench the last 2 games.  A goal in each game ties him for the team lead at 5.
  • Edson Buddle does some good things when he's on the field.  Unfortunately he's not the highest paid player on the team to do "good things", he's paid that much to directly influence scoring, either through goals or assists.  3 goals out of 23 ain't cutting it.
  • By avoiding a yellow card for 3 straight games Thomas steps back from the edge of suspension, now needing 2 cards before taking a game off.
  • Sturgis with another goal, I can't say I saw this season from him ever.  A great find in the rough by the Rapids.
  • Short turnaround with DC in town on Sunday.  They are the league's worst team so this has trap game written all over it.
Player of the Match: Chris Klute.  This is almost a POTM award for the last two games as he's been on fire.  He picked up his team leading 5th assist (only 2 off the league lead) in this one and the only question about him at this point is how long the Rapids will wait to turn his loan into a permanent move.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Time For The Annual Fourth Of July Beatdown

Happy Birthday America!

OK, so its not annually, but most of the time the Rapids tend to win their Independence Day game.  This year the victims opponents are the NY Red Bulls with former Rapids and still fan favorite Kosuke Kimura.  Also Andre Akpan who we traded there earlier this season, and their coach is former Rapid Mike Petke.  Oh, and fan most-hateds Fabin Espindola and Jamison Olave are there as well.  And some guy named Thierry Henry.  Game time tomorrow is a slightly later 7:30pm with a post-game Flobots performance and the annual firework show.  Pre-game is the Centennial 38 tailgate, starting a half hour earlier for the holiday so grills will fire up at 4pm.  For those people not making the game it will be on Altitude.

As always, I will be one of those people as I have something better to do tomorrow.  Somehow my wonderful wife has managed to put up with me for 15 years tomorrow, so we'll be celebrating that.  I'll watch the game Friday morning and have a recap Friday night.

Injury Report:
OUT:  DF Diego Calderon (R knee Surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: GK Matt Pickens (L arm fracture); MF Martin Rivero (L quad strain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE YELLOW: MF Hendry Thomas (1 game left for good behavior)

FW Charles Eloundou - Still waiting on International Transfer Certificate

That might be the shortest missing player report we've had this season.  Obviously the big loss is still Rivero but all 3 of the injured players would likely start if healthy.  NY is down 3 players to injury:

The only real question to me is Mullan or Wynne at right back.  I think we'll see Mullan for his offensive benefit but if Pareja is concerned about the back line we could see the stronger defense of Wynne in his place.

Key To Look For: Defense.  Yeah, we won win giving up 3 goals last week but we can't expect that to happen every week.  We need to get the back line figured out.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Brown and Moor.  The 4th of July crowd will power the Rapid to a win, but it won't be easy.  Brown is finding his form and will get on the board, but Moor will finish a free kick for the game winner.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The 8 Year Streak Is Over!

On July 4th, 2005 the Rapids were losing 1-0 at half, but came back to win 2-1.  That was the last time Colorado trailed at half and won a regular-season game (there was MLS Cup of course)...until Saturday.  Down 2-1 at half and 3-2 in the 75th minute the Rapids came back to win 4-3 on a last minute goal.

The game started fairly well with the Rapids putting pressure on the Impact goal early.  In the 24th minute a cross from Dillon Powers found Atiba Harris in the middle of the box who put in a looping header that beat the Montreal keeper for Harris' team-leading 5th goal of the season.  The game started tipping towards Montreal after that though, and 12 minutes later the Impact leveled the score.  Clint Irwin badly misjudged a corner and whiffed on it, then fumbled the ball when it was knocked back to him allowing Camara to pull of a bicycle kick goal from his backside (scoring the #1 spot on SportsCenter's top plays Sunday morning).  4 minutes later Di Vaio was given way too much space in midfield to find a streaking Paponi who expertly turned Drew Moor around and curved the ball past Irwin to give Montreal the dreaded halftime lead.

Full credit to the Rapids, they came out of the break at full speed looking for the equalizer.  In the 59th minute Dillon Powers took what appeared to be a harmless pass in the box and suddenly one-timed it to the near post, beating the Impact's keeper to even the score at 2 apiece.  That only lasted 13 minutes as Paponi once again found space between the center backs and scored an easy goal to give Montreal what I expected to be the winning goal.  Apparently Colorado  had other ideas though.  5 minutes later Brown took a shot that was deflected wide in the box and Chris Klute collected the rebound with a one time cross that found Brown following his own shot and he was able to volley it home to get the game tied for the 4th time (if you include 0-0) at 3.  At that point I was just happy to get out with a point, but nobody told the Rapids that.  After defending a late attack in the last minute of stoppage time Chris Klute slid in to win a ball in the Rapids defensive third, popped up, and went on a long attacking run in the 96th minute.  his attempted cross to Brown didn't get anywhere close to him, but the defensive clearance went right to Tony Cascio outside the box.  With nothing to lose, as the referee was set to blow the final whistle, Cascio wound up and powered a shot it.  The shot was deflected and beat the keeper near post to give the Rapids a last second 4-3 win!

My key to the match was defense, because Montreal had the best offense int he league.  Only the second time all season we've given up 3 goals (after the 3-0 loss in Portland last weekend) but that didn't matter as the Rapids scored 3, and then 4, goals for the first time this season.  

Random Thoughts:
  • All kinds of records were broken in this one, just a few:
  • First time in 8 years the Rapids won when losing at half
  • First time this season the Rapids won when giving up a goal
  • First time in MLS in 4 years that rookie teammates scored in the same game (Pontius/Wallace DC '09)
  • First loss for Montreal at home this season
  • Great mental toughness from the Rapids in this one, it would have been easy to just give up and go home multiple times.
  • Pareja should get credit for his subs.  Brown and Cascio scored and Wynne settled down the defense.
  • The defense in general didn't look too good.  Mera clearly is not the answer and Sturgis and Thomas gave Di Vaio way too much space in front of the defensive line.
  • Clint Irwin also had a rough match.  his play has declined recently, many people believe he's hearing the footsteps of a healthy Pickens and is losing confidence.
  • The midfield completed something like 90% of their passes in this one, just insanely good.
  • Buddle had a good first half but dropped off in the second.  We need full 90 minutes like his first 45.
  • Atiba Harris, back on the good side of the ledger.
  • A couple of Impact fans have complained about the 3rd Rapids goal, because an Impact player was down injured.  Sorry, but those are the rules these days.  You didn't see any Rapids fans complaining on the 2nd Timbers goal last week when Drew Moor was down with a head injury.  Besides, when your player goes down after a head ball and grabs his calf while waving his arm at the ref it doesn't look real convincing...
  • If you had Montreal scoring 3 goals in Montreal and the Rapids winning, you're lying.
Player of the Match: Tony Cascio.  Powers or Klute probably deserve it but after being the goat for hitting the post in Chicago, Cascio gets the nod for the game-winning goal in Montreal.