Friday, August 29, 2014

Rapids In Seattle, This Never Ends Well

Our mantra for a while

10 games, 1 point, 7 goals, -18 goal differential.  That's the Rapids all-time record in my hometown where they'll be playing tomorrow.  This is not good.  We found out this week that Jared Watts will join Drew Moor and Shane O'Neill on the not available list, which has left Pablo trying Burch and Piermayr at CB and Serna at RB.  It could be ugly.  Game time tomorrow is 2pm and the game is on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (R ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury); MF Jared Watts (L hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Jose Mari (L ankle injury); DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca (2 good behavior games left)

Seattle has two players out and one questionable.  Jose Mari's addition to the injury list is a unwelcome surprise, Sanchez was also reported as unlikely to play earlier this week.  I have no idea what tomorrow's lineup will look like.  My guess:

But really, who knows?

Strategic Consideration: Just win a game, then we can worry about strategic considerations.

Prediction: 3-1 loss.  Goal by Brown.  There's just too much stacked against the team to expect anything but a loss tomorrow.  I'd rather be in Honolulu watching the Seattle-based Washington Huskies.  ;)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mwanga Loaned To Cosmos, Hinchey Speaks

  • Today the Rapids announced that Danny Mwanga has been loaned to the Cosmos until the end of the 2014 season, but the Rapids can recall him up to the roster freeze date on Sept. 15th.

Probably a good move for all involved.  Mwanga clearly isn't working out in Colorado and I'm not sure he has MLS talent anymore.  There's no reason to give him playing time here, so maybe he can get some in NY.

There's some interesting comments there but its the same level of talk we've heard from the Rapids FO for a while now.  At this point talk is cheap, actions is what important.  Hinchey doesn't make me believe any less that the team decided a few weeks ago to punt until 2015.  He talks about finding "difference-makers" this offseason and seems to suggest we don't have the right mix of players now (though that may just be some lack of clarity in the author's transcription) but we had an open transfer window a month ago when we were still in the hunt and made no moves to fix those problems.  Why not?  Its another public indicator of being satisfied with whatever the current roster could do in the rest of 2014 and it appears this roster can't do much.

I do find the comments about a USL-Pro partnership being announced hopefully next month interesting.  Given the multiple flat rejections to the idea of partnering with the Switchbacks in the Springs I'm assuming they won't be the partner.  Who will be?  Plus the long term plan of having a PDL, USL-Pro, Women's (in whatever league), and MLS team playing out of the Dick would be great if they can make it happen.

Finally his comments about a second DP confirm something I heard from a secondhand source last week, the Rapids have a specific player in mind and authorization to sign another DP.  No more information than that but it will be interesting to see who this might be.  Though the fact that Hinchey calls Torres a core member of the squad and Chris Bianchi reports he's not real happy at the moment makes me wonder if this DP will end up replacing our current one.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Goodbye Jens

Goodbye to Jens.  Today was the last race of the great Jens Voigt's career and he went out in typical Jens fashion, by attacking early and staying off the front until late.  5 riders attacked coming out of Boulder and let the pack over Lookout Mountain in golden and down into Denver.  We were camped 175m from the finish and saw Jens lead the group through the finish on the first 4 of the 5 laps, though in the fourth lap the group was mere seconds behind the German.

Meanwhile back in the peloton Garmin-SHARP and UHC decided to drop Elia Vivani on the Lookout Mountain climb to increase the chances for their sprinters Alex Howes and Kiel Rejinen respectively.  not only did they drop Viviani, they dropped literally every member of his Cannondale team and by the time they got past us in Denver the grupetto was 3:30 behind and by their body language were clearly not catching the main group.

On the final lap after Jens was caught BMC took control and tried to set up their sprinter Michael Schar.  At 3K to go, when the times were locked in and Teejay had officially won the race, he came to the front to lead Schar out!  As they went by us at 175m to go Teejay was still on the front and Howes was coming up the inside for Garmin-SHARP but it appeared too little too late for Argyle.  We could see the finish but it turns out I was wrong.  Alex Howes took the win over his best friend Kiel Rejinen in a reverse of Stage 1 in Aspen.  It was Howes' first professional win.  BMC's Schar finished 3rd after the leadout.

After the race we were able to get down close to the podium for the ceremonies.  No surprise that Jens was given Most Aggressive Rider today, but Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen had a special presentation for Jens.  They brought him back up to the stage and gave him a framed collage of pictures and gave him a chance to address the crowd to say goodbye.  Afterwards we went by the Garmin-SHARP bus where we saw Ben King, Charlie Wegelius, and I got an autograph from Jonathan Vaughters!  I've been wanting to add JV's autograph to my collection since the race started so I was quite pleased.  He was just hanging out on the grassy hill next to the bus, I'm not sure how many people knew who he was, most people seemed to be waiting for Howes or Tommy D.  Or it could be that they all got autographs and such before we got there.

1. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP
2. Kiel Rejinen - UHC
3. Michael Schar - BMC

Final Standings:

1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Tom Danielson - Garmin-SHARP (1:32)
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly (1:45)

1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (39)
2. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP (31)
2. Danny Summerhill - UHC (23)

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (35)
2. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC (27)
3. Jens Voigt - TREK (26)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (3:30)
3. Tanner Putt - Bissell (25:58)

1. BMC 
2. Garmin-SHARP (1:04)
3. TREK (3:54)

Best Colorado Rider: Teejay VanGarderen - BMC
Most Aggressive Rider: Jens Voigt - BMC

Saturday, August 23, 2014

VanGarderen Sets New Course Record

Teejay crushed the time trial today and will almost certainly win his second straight USA Pro Challenge tomorrow in Denver. After Tommy D came in after starting the day in 4th by putting up a personal best of 25:18 5 minutes later Teejay came in at 24:26, crushing his own course record of 25:02 set last year. They've used this course going all the way back to the Red Zinger Classic in 1975 and through to the end of the Coors Classic in 1988. The first person to congratulate Teejay was Tommy D, who ended it with "you're a bad m-----f-----". The big loser was Majka who came in 4th and dropped off the GC podium.

I'll be watching near the finish line tomorrow but I doubt any of the overall standings will change. I doubt Teejay will challenge Jacques-Maynes for the KOM. I suppose teammates Reijnen and Summerhill could contest the sprinter's jersey but I would be surprised. If the 1:31 differential holds up tomorrow it would be the largest margin of victory in the race, beating Teejay's 1:30 win over Frank last year. Tommy D was at 1:42 behind in 3rd so he's improved by 11 seconds this year.

1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Tom Danielson - Garmin-SHARP ( :52)
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly (1:08)

1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Tom Danielson - Garmin-SHARP (1:31)
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly (1:45)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (3:30)
3. Tanner Putt - Bissell (19:09)

1. BMC 
2. Garmin-SHARP (1:04)
3. TREK (3:54)

No sprint or KOM points today with the time trial so no change there.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Race Happened, Apaprently

The weather in the mountains kept the relay plane grounded today, so all we saw was parts of the final 10K (any camera in town in Breckenridge plus occasional glimpses from the helicopter. Apparently a 12 man group broke away with 60K to go, then over Hoosier Pass a 4 man group consisting of Didier, Acevedo, Ben King, and Britton broke away and stayed away to the finish. On the final short climb in Breck Ben King attacked but was passed by Didier with 300M to go on the climb, followed by Acevedo and Britton. Didier bombed his way down to the finish line with the other two trying to close the gap but they came up just short. Another 25m and Acevedo would have won the stage as all 3 got the same time, with Ben King 15 seconds back.

1. Laurent Didier - TREK
2. Jainer Acevedo - Garmin-SHARP
3. Rob Britton - SmartStop

1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Rafal Majka - Saxo-Tinkoff ( :20)
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly ( :37)

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (35)
2. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC (27)
3. Tom Danielson - Garmin-SHARP (20)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (3:55)
3. Tanner Putt - Bissell (18:01)

1. Garmin-SHARP
2. BMC ( :11)
3. TREK (1:20)

No change in the Sprinter standings or the Best Colorado Rider standings.

Most aggressive went to Ben King.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jens Almost Pulls Off The Upset


Sadly Jens didn't pull it off. Breaking away from the early breakaway with under 40K to go Voigt was caught by the peloton with 750m to go, leading to a sprint victory by Cannondale's Viviani. That's his 3rd stage win in Colorado. I saw his first win in person in the VIP tent about 50m from the line in 2011.

Going back to yesterday's Stage 3 (sorry I didn't get an update posted, Rapids game) it blew up the leader board. Early on a small group of 8 including Michael Rodgers, Teejay, Alex Howes, Tommy D, and Jainer Acevedo got off the front during the first climb of Monarch Mountain. TREK hammered the peloton to close the gap and a small group that included Matthew Buche and Rafal Majka caught the leaders before the second climb up Monarch. The group stayed together for the most part until the last 4K when the big names dropped the rest, including leader Alex Howes. With 1K to go Teejay attacked and only Majka was able to go with him. Teejay won the stage, took the overall lead, and barring a disaster should defend his 2013 race victory.

1. Elia Viviani - Cannondale
2. Martin Kohler - BMC
3. Serghei Tvetcov - Jelly Belly

1. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC
2. Rafal Majka - Saxo-Tinkoff ( :20)
3. Ben Hermans - BMC ( :23)

1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (27)
2. Danny Summerhill - UHC (23)
3. Tyler Magner - Hincapie (17)

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (35)
2. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC (27)
3. Ben Hermans - BMC (23)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (5:37)
3. Tanner Putt - Bissell ( 12:45)

1. BMC
2. TREK (2:54)
3. Garmin-SHARP (4:24)

Most aggressive for Stage 3 was Michael Rodgers. Most aggressive today was obviously Jens Voigt.

Teejay took the Best Colorado jersey after Stage 2 and keeps it as long as he stays in the lead.

Well, At Least It Was Entertaining

As expected the Rapids leaked goals like a sieve.  Unexpectedly the offense actually showed up for a half, scoring 3 nice goals.  Sadly that wasn't enough and the Rapids lost their 5th straight 4-3, with the retiring Donovan getting the winner.  Defensively this was the same game we've seen in the last 5 games, but at least the offense made it an interesting game.
  • We're now down to .28 pts/game on short rest.  We're at 1.56 pts/game on "normal" rest.  The good news is that there's no more short rest games this season.
  • I know its the "thing" now in American sports, but giving gifts to a retiring player on the visiting team drives me crazy.  "Thanks for kicking the crap out of us for so many years!"  Last night apparently the Rapids gave Donovan a ski pass, a swag bag from Vail Resorts, and a bottle of wine from Kroenke's winery.  Oh, and the game-winning goal.
  • On the flip side, the honoring of Jamie Smith was nicely done.  Bagpipes!  And Jamie in full kilt with sporran!  That was fun.
  • Hairston's first professional goal to start the scoring was nicely placed.  A snap shot at a tight angle.
  • Edson with #100 finally!
  • Who knew Marc Burch had a dead ball shot like that?
  • Watts had a better than expected game at center back.  He was pushed to his limit I think but he managed for the most part.
  • If his hamstring is serious we'll see more of VDC who was....not good.
  • Apparently Buddle also left with a hamstring, maybe more Torres?
  • In the end though this was a perfect example of one team having more talent and being better than the other.  LA took the first half off, then flipped the switch and won the game.
  • The team did look more engaged in this game than they have in the past four, but heart isn't enough.  When you're playing Keane and Donovan with your 3rd and 5th choice CB's you're going to need something amazing to win.
Man of the Match: Edson Buddle.  Congrats on finally getting #100.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chaos And Carpenter Rule Stage 2

Odd day today in the race. Coming down from Kebler Pass (half dirt/half paved) the race was stopped 8K from the line with the time gaps preserved, then restarted from the same spot. There was heavy rain on the course on the decent but the race was stopped when they hit paved road. The report is that the time gaps were taken at the top of the summit but the racers were allowed to descend to the end of the dirt area before the race was stopped and the time gaps from the summit reestablished. However this information was not passed to Phil, Paul, and Christian doing the commentary for NBC Sports. The race organizers tried to get the lead service car in front of the leaders but the racers were going full out not knowing it was neutralized and they weren't able to inform the riders of the neutralization (who don't have radios in this race). Lots of frustration when they stopped the riders but the post-race follow up seems that the race made the right call with possibly some poor execution.

At the summit (and when the riders were stopped) Hincapie's Robin Carpenter had a 45 second lead on a small group which included Teejay, Tommy D, and Alex Howes. After restarting Carpenter extended his lead to 1:20 before the group started pulling him back. Inside the last 2K Teejay and Alex Howes jumped out of the group and tried to track down Carpenter, but it was too little too late. Howes finished 2nd for the 2nd day in a row and takes the yellow jersey for Garmin.

1. Robin Carpenter - Hincapie
2. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP ( :07)
3. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC ( :07)

Overall Standings:
1. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP
2. Ben Hermans - BMC ( :11)
3. Teejay Van Garderen - BMC ( :12)

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (23)
2. Robin Carpenter - Hincapie (18)
3. Matt Cooke - Jamis Hagens (14)

1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (21)
2. Danny Summerhill - UHC (13)
3. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP (12)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Tanner Putt - Bissell ( :53)
3. Ruben Zepuntke - Bissell (1:07)

1. BMC
2. Garmin-SHARP ( :04)
3. TREK (1:12)

The Beginning Of The Rest Of The Season

This, sadly, may be how we feel tomorrow night

Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy are in town tomorrow night.  This will be (barring a miracle playoff matchup) Landon's last game in Colorado.  Well, unless he pulls a Farve which I expect him to do.  I'm really hoping the Rapids aren't going to play the Denver Broncos to LA's Seattle Seahawks.  I enjoyed being on the winning side of that matchup in February, I don't need to be on the losing side.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  'Celo and Fleming have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: DF Drew Moor (R ACL tear); MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Marlon Hairston (L groin strain); DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain)

Disciplinary Report:
SUSPENDED AFTER ONE MORE YELLOW: MF Nick LaBrocca (3 good behavior games left)

LA had one questionable player last week, so they're basically at full strength.  We, clearly, are not.  My guess at our XI with the defensive changes:

At this point we could see anyone out there to mix things up but this is my best guess.  Maybe Torres?  Maybe VDC?  Eloundou? 

Strategic Consideration: Short rest, 4 game losing streak, missing two quality center backs.  I'll be happy if we don't embarrass ourselves.  Its been a long time since I've felt this negative about a Rapids game.

Prediction: 3-0 loss.  Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan against a patchwork defense on short rest.  I'll be shocked if we don't lose by multiple goals.  Maybe the team pulls together after the bad news today but I don't see it happening.

Moor Done For Season, O'Neill Likely Done As Well

The worst possible news today about Moor's knee injury, a torn ACL that ended his season.  Moor has been the most consistent player on the team this year (and for the last couple of years) and there's no good replacement for him.  This is a huge loss that all but ends the season.

To add injury to injury, Chris Bianchi tweeted this today:
Looks like O’Neill’s done. Mastroeni on Shane O’Neill: “My expectations are [that] we won’t see Shane for the rest of the year.” #Rapids96
So that's not great news either.  We're out both our starting center backs for the final 10 games at a time where we're averaging almost 3 goals against over the last 4 games.  When asked about trades or new signings for cover Bravo said this to Bianchi:
Just spoke with Paul Bravo. Team will rely on what they've got- no plans to make a short-term move. #Rapids96
So that leaves our center back depth as:
  • Wynne (converted outside back)
  • Burch (converted outside back)
  • Watts (converted dmid, rookie)
  • Van De Casteele (rookie)
  • Agbossoumonde
Despite that, the team is standing pat.  This after saying they wouldn't be active in the transfer window (when O'Neill was already out injured) but would looked for necessary "difference-makers" in the offseason.

If the fact that we're "relying on what we've got" after all that doesn't say "We're punting until 2015" I don't know what does.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Best Friends Battle For Stage 1

Stage 1 was the crit race in Aspen this afternoon.  3 22 mile loops from downtown Aspen up to Snowmass Village and back.  The group was broken up over the three climbs with a small peloton staying together until late when Novo-Nordisk's Javier Megias attacked out of the group.  He was later followed by Garmin's Alex Howes and UHC's Kiel Reijnen who caught and passed Megias in the last kilometer.  The two best friends fought out the sprint with Reijnen beating the WorldTour rider for the win and the first yellow jersey.

Stage and Overall Standings:
1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC
2. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP
3. Ben Hermans - BMC ( :03)

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes - Jamis-Hagens (13)
2. Lachlan Norris - Drapac (11)
3. Matt Cooke - Jamis Hagens (5)

1. Kiel Reijnen - UHC (15)
2. Alex Howes - Garmin-SHARP (12)
3. Danny Summerhill - UHC (10)

Young Rider:
1. Clement Chevrier - Bissell
2. Gregor Muhlberger - NetApp ( :42)
3. James Oram - Bissell ( :42)

1. BMC
2. TREK ( :03)
3. Garmin-SHARP ( :05)

Keep Calm And Wait For 2015

Once again the Rapids gave up a goal in the first 15 minutes due to a stupid mistake.  Once again they were forced to chase the game.  Once again they were burned for more goals while chasing the game.  Once again they lost.

If this sounds familiar its because its the fourth straight game that's looked this way.  The twist this week was that the Rapids did draw level off a wondergoal from Serna, before giving the lead back to DC shortly after.  That and the loss of captain Drew Moor in the 12th minute with a non-contact knee injury, something that is never good.

Just another poor performance from a team that appears to have no plan, no style, and no points.

Other Observations:

  • Nice job by LaBrocca giving up the ball under no pressure to leave his team stranded on the first goal.  This after he picked up a yellow card 3 minutes in.  Horrible game from Nick.
  • To add insult to injury, almost literally, he was handed the armband after Moor got injured trying to clean up the mess LaBrocca created on the first goal.
  • Then Jared Watts got his first MLS minutes at centerback.  He managed to get through the first half decently but he was repeatedly burned in the second half, giving DC a shooting gallery that resulted in 3 more goals.
  • So what happened to Grand Van de Casteele?  Reports out of the combine is that his ceiling wasn't as high as other  players but he might have been the most immediately MLS-ready defender in the draft.  Yet we go with a rookie playing out of position over VDC?
  • For that matter Gale Agbossoumonde is around somewhere.  Are you telling me we traded Martin Chavez for a player that can't get picked over an out-of-position rookie?
  • Its ridiculous that the Rapids are at a point that with two injuries we're out of capable starting center backs, especially as one injury put us in a position where we were out of regular right backs.  Horrible roster construction.
  • The high point of the match was Dillon Serna's jaw dropping goal.  Great volley, easy Goal of the Week and will be in the running for Goal of the Year (but won't win it).
  • But the Rapids could only keep the lead for 15 minutes before more defensive chaos gave up a goal.  After that it was another two goals (and almost a 3rd) as the Rapids pushed forward that put Colorado away.
  • A garbage goal late from Brown made the scoreline look better, but it was meaningless in the big picture.
Man of the Match: Dillon Serna for the uber-goal.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

USA Pro Challenge 2014

Its race time again!  The 2014 version of the USA Pro Challenge starts tomorrow in Aspen and will finish next Sunday in its traditional spot in front of the capitol building in downtown Denver.  This year we lose the climb over Independence Pass but the Vail Time Trial is still in the race.

Teejay Van Garderen returns to defend his title with BMC but his teammate and 2013 runner-up Mathias Frank will not be joining him.  Garmin-SHARP brings Tom 'Tommy D' Danielson, last year's 3rd placed rider and Jainer Acevedo who placed 4th last year while racing for Jamis-Hagens Berman.  Garmin's Lachlan Morton placed 5th last year but will not be returning this year.

As mentioned Stage 1 starts in Aspen.  It will consist of 3 22 mile laps between Aspen and Snowmass and back before the finish in downtown Aspen.  Each loop has 2300 feet of climbing.

Stage 2 starts in Aspen the next morning and takes the racers over 8700 foot McClure Pass mid-stage.  Then its a decent into Crested Butte before finishing on the climb to Mt. Crested Butte as it did in 2011 and 2012.

Stage 3 takes the race from Gunnison over Monarch Pass and into Salida.  The twist is that the racers will turn around in Salida and go back up to the Monarch Mountain ski area for a second-straight mountaintop finish.

Stage 4 is a fairly flat (for Colorado at least) circuit race through Garden of the Gods after a ceremonial start in downtown Colorado Springs.  Ridge Road does have gradients up to 17% so its not exactly clear sailing for the peloton.

Stage 5 introduces a new start city in Woodland Park.  The race then takes a new route and climbs up to Breckenridge by way of 11,500 foot Hoosier Pass, the high point of the race.  The finish will be in downtown Breck for those who can stay with the lead pack over the climb.  Be sure to check out Broken Compass Brewing if you go!

Stage 6 is the traditional Vail Time Trial that dates back to the Red Zinger Classic in the 1970s (which later became the Coors Classic).  The cyclists will start one-by-one in downtown Vail before climbing up most of the way to Vail Pass.  The past two times they've used the time trial in the race the winner has been decided by a combined total of 4 seconds.

Finally Stage 7 takes the race from Boulder, through Golden and over Lookout Mountain, and into downtown Denver.  This will be the first trip over Lookout Mountain since the inaugural race in 2011.  The final part of the race will be a 3 1/2 lap circuit between Civic Center Park and City Park before the finish in front of the capitol.  I'll probably be watching from somewhere around Civic Center Park.

As usual I'll try to post daily updates here, in among the busy Rapids schedule in the first half of the week.  And go Argyle!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rapids Try To Avoid A Four Game Winless Streak In DC

It hasn't come to this...yet

The Rapids head to DC on Sunday with a 3 game losing streak and a struggle to find the net.  DC is currently sitting second in the East, two points behind KC with a game in hand.  The good news is that they play their first CONCACAF Champions League game on Wednesday so they'll have to balance that with their game against Colorado.  Of coures the Rapids haven't won in DC since early 2010.  Game time on Sunday is 6pm, the game is on Altitude with 'Celo and Fleming and nationally on Univision Deportes.

Injury Report:
OUT: MF Brian Mullan (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Marlon Hairston (L groin strain); DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain)

DC is missing Eddie Johnson due to being an idiot and getting a two game suspension from the DisCo as well as a number of players (8) who are out or questionable.  That includes Conor Doyle, the one-time Rapids trialist.  I expect a very similar starting XI from the Rapids:

Maybe we see Torres up front instead but otherwise I don't expect radical changes.  I'm not sure what kind of radical changes we would make at this point anyway.  Mwanga?  Eloundou?

Strategic Consideration: Score goals, don't give up goals.  Yeah, pretty basic but at this point this team needs to go back to basics.

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  I just don't see anything from the Rapids right now that leads me to believe they can win this one.  Once Colorado actually shows something then maybe I'll consider a more positive outcome.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I've Got Nothing

Just like the FSL game last week, we could recycle the game review from the New England game by changing the name and  it would be fairly accurate.  Two goals (including a stupid PK foul from Wynne) in 12 minutes meant the Rapids had to chase the game again, exactly what they couldn't afford to do.  Again we saw an inability to break down the defense and the attack left them open for Dallas to get a 3rd early into the 2nd half.  The Rapids finally did break through on a soft PK (but no softer than the one Wynne gave up) for Torres to score one but it was too little too late.

Some stats from the 3 game losing streak:

  • We've outshot our opponents 54-28
  • Despite that our opponents have put 15 shots on goal to our 14
  • Our opponents have scored 7 goals, or about 47% of their shots on goal and 25% of their total shots
  • We've scored 1 goal, on a PK, or about 7% of our shots on goal and under 2% of our total shots
That shows both sides of our problem.  Our opposition is way too efficient with their attack, indicating that our defense is getting beat badly, and our attack is woefully inefficient despite the large number of shots.

These last three games have also killed our playoff hopes.  We've dropped to a tie for 6th in the conference and San Jose in 8th can catch us with their games in hand.  Given the historical playoff line being somewhere around 48-50 points the Rapids need 18-20 points in their last 11 games, with 6 of those 11 on the road.

Based on their play right now, I'd be shocked if we got many more than 12 points in our last 11 games.  I don't see how we're going to get 18-20.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rapids Head To DSG Park South Tomorrow

If its a MLS Cup picture, it must be Dallas tomorrow

OK, so Pizza Hut Park FC Dallas Stadium Toyota Stadium is only DSG Park South in the playoffs, but this might as well be a playoff game for the Rapids.  Colorado and Dallas are battling for one of the last playoff spots and a loss tomorrow would put Colorado 6 points behind the former Burn.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm and the game is on Altitude.  The watch party is at the Celtic with a C38 all-members meeting happening before the game.

Injury Report:
OUT: ML Brian Mullan (L knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Shane O'Neill (R knee sprain); MF Marlon Hairston (L groin strain)

Dallas is missing 3 players to injury including George "Own Goal" John and former Rapid Hendry Thomas who's done for the season.  Desptie being questionable reports are there's almost no chance we'll see O'Neill or Hairston tomorrow.  O'Neill is actually nursing a groin strain mroe than a knee injury, despite the official injury report.  Here's what I expect for a starting XI:

The only real question mark to me is the forwards.  Do we see Torres instead of Brown or Sanchez?  do we maybe see a midfeilder sent to the bench so Sanchez can start behind Torres and Brown?

Strategic Consideration: Score first/don't give up the early goal.  New England and FSL gave the league a blueprint on how to beat us right now.  Score first, then pack 10 in the box and force the Rapids to break you down, which the Rapids can't do.  Colorado can't allow themselves to get into that situation again.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  Dallas isn't shutting anyone out this season, but they aren't having a problem scoring either.  I haven't seen much out of the Rapids in recent weeks to believe we can get points on the road.  Maybe they'll prove me wrong tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Too Much Planning For 2015?

After many games this season, regardless of result, we've heard Pablo talk about how the play was more important than the score.  His apparent philosophy of building a good team over focusing on results has been surprising and sometimes a bit distressing to the fans (such as this past weekend).  In the end though I always assumed there was the goal of winning while improving and not sacrificing 2014 to a "rebuilding" year.  Certainly Bravo and Hinchey set expectations before the season that the Rapids would be competitive in 2014 and not be rebuilding.  For example, from the Denver Post's SuperDraft preview:
"All the things we've been through, we're still in a better place," Bravo said. "We'll be better than we were last year. We're in the right direction."
Yet right now we are 1 point behind last year's pace and we lost to FSL at home, something we didn't do last year.  So the quantifiable evidence says we're not better than last year.  This despite the team probably improving from last year.  Based on playing time there has been three significant changes to the roster:

  • Dillon Serna replaced Atiba Harris - Serna is raw and suffers a bit as a rookie, but he's not the hack Harris was.  Improvement IMO.
  • Nick LaBrocca replaced Nathan Sturgis - It has made the team a bit more defensive, I consider this largely a push.
  • Jose Mari/Jared Watts has replaced Hendry Thomas - Improvement when Jose Mari is playing, decline when Watts in playing.  Overall an improvement IMO.

That makes these comments that Chris Bianchi got about the transfer window closing tonight curious:

Just spoke with Paul Bravo- pretty clear nothing will happen today. "Nothing's imminent."
But Bravo also said Rapids will be very active in winter window. Looking for multiple "difference-makers" up front.
Based on these quotes Bravo seems to indicate the Rapids need "difference-makers" up front, and the performance so far this season would agree with him:

  • Deshorn Brown - 7 goals.  Very inconsistent.  He was hot around the World Cup break but had a hard time getting started this year.
  • Edson Buddle - 1 goal, 1 assist.  At current pace Brown is going to get his 100th goal before Buddle does.
  • Charles Eloundou - 0 goals.  Hasn't even made the 18 lately, though that's partially due to injury.
  • Kamani Hill - 2 goals.  Had a couple of good games and then drifted back to invisibility.
  • Danny Mwanga - 0 goals.  Um, yeah.  Lets just say "difference-maker" and "Mwanga" haven't gone together in a long time.
  • Vicente Sanchez - 6 goals.  5 of those are from the PK spot and oddly 0 assists.
  • Gabriel Torres - 1 goal, 1 assist.  His issues have been well publicized this year but you assume he has more in him.

That's a pretty ineffective group overall, with only Brown's ability to score or win PKs standing out.  Its pretty clear we need a "difference-maker" now, not going into 2015.  So why are we willing to wait?  We're facing the toughest run in our schedule, with road games in Dallas, DC, Seattle and a home-and-home with LA.  This coming off a pair of games where we were outscored 4-0 and seemed like we had no idea how to break down a defense.  We need a "difference-maker" now, not in 6 months.

Apparently the plan is to hope Torres rounds into form to partner with Brown and carry us to the playoffs because it doesn't seem like the team is real concerned about finding another option.  Not only that, but Pablo's comments about building for the future and Bravo's willingness to stand pat in this transfer window leads me to believe that the organization is satisfied with the current team not being successful in 2014 and focusing on 2015.  It makes me wonder what the point of the final 12 games is.  If the organization is more concerned with 2015 than 2014 as it appears, what should I be concerned with?