Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Letter To The Rapids FO

Patrick Quinn has allowed me to share his letter to the Colorado Rapids organization, which nicely sums up my current feelings after last night's game as well.

To Whom It May Concern,

It really and truly is hard to put into words how incredibly disappointed I am with this club. In fact, I do not think I have ever been more disappointed in this club since 1996. That in and of itself is quite impressive considering how generally mediocre this club has been for most of its existence.

With still a month left of fixtures, the season is already effectively over from a competitive standpoint. In fact you could argue that the season ended back in July since that was the last time we won a game. This entire season is a failure, and it is due entirely to a culmination of issues you have created upon yourself. I have never, in the 20 years of supporting this club, have seen such a comprehensive failure of an organization across the board.

I turn on ESPN any time in the last two weeks and the big topic right now in sports seems to be the concept of “accountability”. Well, I think it is high time you, as an entire organization, need to be held accountable for the embarrassing and insulting product you have put on the field.

Let’s start with the roster. The roster you have assembled is arguably the weakest in all of MLS today. You have been remarkably stingy when it comes to acquiring new players that could have a genuine impact on the team. According to player salary information provided by the MLS Players Union, you are in fact one of the lowest spenders in the league. Only Chivas USA spend less on total player salaries. New England was formally below us until they did something a little over a month ago that the Rapids have never done in their history, which was sign a high profile Designated Player (in Jermaine Jones) to a seven figure salary.

However, the roster issues go far deeper than simply not spending money. When you do spend money, you have done so in a haphazard fashion. You continue to retain players such as Edson Buddle and Danny Mwanga who command ludicrously high salaries and have contributed essentially nothing to the team since they were first signed. Moreover, when you attempt to invest in a DP status player like Gabby Torres, you never play him…and are seemingly unable to motivate him to even keep his fitness during the offseason (something that Buddle has also been guilty of).

The roster issues go even deeper than that. You have been unable to plan and build a roster from Day 1 that has the ability to compete over the course of a full MLS season. We saw this under Oscar Pareja, and we are seeing it today under Pablo Mastroeni. There have been clear flaws in this roster that have persisted even before Pablo was considered for the head coaching job, and you did nothing to solve those issues. We have needed a target striker since 2011 when Conor Casey became injured and disinterested in playing here. Four years later and this is still and issue you have failed to fix. We have not had a viable set piece specialist since Jeff Larentowicz left the club, and you still have failed to fix this issue.

This year alone, when injuries settled in and the roster became thin, you did nothing to try and give the squad the support it needed. Goal scoring has been a serious problem, transition play has been a serious problem, we haven’t had two heathy choice center backs in months, and now we seem to have serious issues with goalkeeping. Your “solution” to this mountainous amount of roster problems has been to do nothing. You have literally done nothing to address any of these issues even when the team was still competitively positioned for a playoff spot. The international transfer window closed and you signed no one. The MLS roster freeze deadline came and went and you signed no one.

Your solution to fill roster holes is by either acquiring inexperienced players through a broken and obsolete college draft system, or by acquiring old players that are injury prone or no other MLS team would touch. Sure, you might get a Dillon Powers, but for every one of him there are 4 or 5 guys like Kindle, Griffiths, and Yamada. Sure, you might get a Vincente Sanchez, but for every one of him there are 4 or 5 guys like Edu, Harbottle, and Zapata.

This is not how you build a winning team. You build a winning team by fielding a squad that has a healthy mix of players from multiple age groups. Moreover, you bring in players that are experienced and are at or near their career peak. There are literally hundreds of examples where this is the case, yet you seem complacent and/or ignorant to what is conventional wisdom to most people.

Of course, we must also consider what you do with the roster you have. You have tried to implement an experimental fitness system that attempts to keep players in peak fitness and to avoid injuries. Anyone at this point can tell you that this fitness system is total bunk and a complete failure. This roster has been plagued with many serious player injuries since winning MLS Cup, and in many of those cases have directly resulted in determining the fate of the season. It is objectively fair to say that this club has done a much worse job coping with injuries than its peers across the league. Teams like Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, and LA Galaxy have all had to deal with significant injury problems, yet they are able to cope and remain competitive. The evidence is clear that your entire fitness system is not working.

Part of the reason other teams are more successful is because they have a genuine system and chemistry. They have built well rounded rosters that are able to adapt and still play well as a unit. This team has no chemistry, and your fitness system is a big reason for this. When the team has clearly and desperately needed chemistry and cohesion, you instead chose to move players in and out of the squad in a completely nonsensical fashion that accomplishes nothing. Your roster meddling has even managed to ruin the confidence of all three of our goalkeepers.

Where is the accountability for failing to solve issues so simple that even novices to the game can identify? You have an organizational structure that is bizarre and seemingly ineffective. What does Paul Bravo even do as a technical director? What does Pablo even do as a head coach? Why does this club bring in someone like Metgod only to have him leave before even completing a single season? Who is in charge of building this roster? Who is in charge of signing new players? Who is in charge of tactics? Your organizational structure is a cipher wrapped in an enigma, and it clearly has done you no favors.

Speaking of enigmas, the clubs infrastructure for the future is highly suspect as well. Why is there no formal scouting team? Why are we one of the last clubs in MLS to find a lower division affiliate? Where is the visible connection between the academy teams and the senior side? Why do we lose local players to other clubs? If things are truly this vague and mismanaged now, it is safe to say the future is extremely bleak.

The upper management of this club has talked at length over the last few years about changing the club culture and finding an identity. They have been open and willing to speak to the public on numerous occasions about it. In spite of all these words, the one thing that truly strikes me is that I have never once heard talk of the club culture having an actual level of expectation, and demanding success from everyone within the organization. That is what separates the best organizations from everyone else. That is why organizations like Sporting KC are where they are today, and why the Rapids continue to be a laughing stock in MLS and in company with other broken organizations like New England and Chivas USA. If you do not strive to be great, you will never be great.

Everything you have done related to soccer operations this year has been a total and complete failure. All of you; from the technical staff, to the coaches, to the players, and the management that allowed this to happen; you have all been an embarrassment to the badge and colors of this club.

If you really care about the club you work for, if you even care half as much as the fans, and want to earn back the respect of the supporters, you first need to apologize, as an organization, to the fans. It would also go a long way to generate some good will by also compensating the fans in some way; be it a refund for a single game, reduced rates on season tickets next year, etc. The fans deserve better than what you have given us, and what you have done over the past several years and has culminated in 2014 is not remotely acceptable. It is not acceptable to the supporters, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to you either.

The second thing you must do is both show and explain what you are going to do going forward to ensure that this never happens again. Make bold moves that the fans will notice and appreciate. Cut dead wood from the roster, bring in good players with a track record, revamp your scouting and academy infrastructure, scrap that stupid fitness system, and consolidate the management structure of soccer operations.

Finally, and most importantly, keep the fans up to date with the goings on inside the club. Supporters want to have a connection with you, and giving them a window into the club both increases their understanding and enhances their connection to this organization. Hire a PR team. You would benefit greatly from having one.

What separates soccer from all other sports is that supporting a team is being a part of a community; and building a community is what is going to make the sport grow in this state, and have people continue to buy tickets and fill stadiums for many years to come.


Patrick Quinn
Long-Time Rapids Season Ticket Holder and Centennial 38 Member

1 comment:

idiovoyager said...

Amen, we are just downright embarrassing right now.

Editorial Note:scratch Neeskens for Metgod