Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rapids Make Roster Moves

It was cut day in Commerce City apparently as the Rapids released the names of the players who will not have their options picked up for 2015.  Now that does not mean these players won't be with the team in 2015, some of them may sign new contracts at a lower number, but most of them will be elsewhere.  The list:

Gale Agbossoumonde
Carlos Alvarez
Davy Armstrong
Edson Buddle
Kamani Hill
Nick LaBrocca
Danny Mwanga
Joe Nasco
Thomas Piermayr
Grant Van De Casteele
Marvell Wynne

I'm a little surprised that they cut Alvarez, he's a young player with some talent.  Hopefully he's one of the players they're renegotiating with.  Happy to see Buddle and Mwanga on the list, that's a lot of salary freed up.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Wynne renegotiate, we went through this a couple of years ago and he came back.  Along with the retiring Mullan that's about $1.4 million in 2014 guaranteed compensation off the roster.

The Rapids also announced today that they picked up Tony Cascio's option for 2015 and Houston announced they were not going to make the loan deal permanent so Cascio will be part of the Rapids roster going forward.  He was guaranteed $105K this year.

So this is the current Rapids roster as we head into the expansion draft:

John Berner (GK)
Deshorn Brown (F)
Mark Burch (D)
Caleb Calvert (F)
Tony Cascio (F)
Charles Eloundou (F)
Marlon Hairston (M)
Clint Irwin (GK)
Chris Klute (D)
Zat Knight (D)
Jose Mari (M)
Drew Moor (D)
John Neeskens (D)
Shane O'Neill (D)
Dillon Powers (M)
Vicente Sanchez (M)
Dillon Serna (M)
Gabriel Torres (F)
Jared Watts (M)

We also got confirmation that Hairston, O'Neill, and Serna will be automatically protected in the expansion draft as GA and homegrown players.  No word on Calvert who was a homegrown player for Chivas USA and we've seen the homegrown designation stick with a player when he moves.  Those three plus the eleven players we get to protect leaves us with five to expose, only three of which can be internationals.

My choices to expose would be Berner, Burch, Knight, Watts and Neeskens.  If Calvert is auto-protected then that gives us another player to protect and I'd protect Neeskens.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rapids Add Caleb Calvert From Chivas USA Dispersal Draft

Today the former Chivas USA players were dispersed through a draft to other MLS teams.  The draft order was set through a farce of a random draw where the playoff teams got 1 ball (or envelope in this case) and the non-playoff teams got two.  The top 5 picks still went to playoff teams.  Colorado selected eighth.

With their pick Colorado took forward Caleb Calvert.  Calvert is a young (he turns 18 on Saturday) target forward who was a Chivas USA homegrown player.  He hasn't had any first-team playing time but has played in Chivas' academy and with their reserve team.  He was the U15/16 national player of the year in 2012-13 after scoring 22 goals for the Chivas USA Development Academy team.

There's no indication if Calvert will keep his homegrown status or not.  players can keep their statuses when traded (Josh Janniere for example) so it wouldn't be surprising if he did.  The projections are that Calvert isn't expected to contribute in 2015 but 2016 is realistic.  I would assume he would spend most of next season in Charlotte getting USL playing time.  If he doesn't retain his homegrown status he might be a target for Orlando or NYCFC in the expansion draft next month, so we may need to protect him.

Overall a good pick by the Rapids.  The only downside is that its another youth project to add to a large stable of youth projects, but I still like the choice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I Renewed My Season Tickets

About two months ago I explained why I hadn't renewed my season tickets yet.  Tonight I signed up for 2015, but not for the reasons detailed in my prior article.

My seat since I moved to Colorado has been in 108 with Class VI/Centennial 38.  I have a number  of friends (and sadly, the Zero who sits next to me ;)) involved in Centennial 38 and the gameday experienced is greatly enhanced by what the group does.  A couple of seasons ago the group worked out an agreement with the Rapids to handle all the ticketing in section 108 and the Terraces.  That agreement continues through 2015.

In my article two months ago I said the only lever that the fans have to push for change from the Rapids was their wallet.  My plan was to hold off giving the Rapids my season ticket money until they earned it by making changes that show they were serious about competing in 2015.  What C38 controlling the tickets in 108 means though is that my ticket for 2015 has already been purchased and the Rapids are guaranteed the funds from the sale of that ticket.  Choosing not to buy a season ticket now does not put any pressure on the Rapids Front Office to make any changes.  Instead it hurts C38 which has done a great job despite the mess the team is in.  It also hurts me as I enjoy going to games and I'd be depriving myself of that experience for no gain.

Given all of this I decided to renew my season tickets.  I also talked to the leadership of C38 and found out that the initial agreement with the Front Office for C38 to handle ticket sales is up after the 2015 season.  As a C38 member I will be pushing for the group to take a real review of the benefits and drawbacks (namely, the loss of the economic lever for individual fans) of handling the tickets before signing any new agreement.  Overall I think its better for the group to do it than not, but I think its important that the group really think about it and not just rubber stamp the idea because we've already been doing it for a couple of years.

So I've lost my ticket lever but that doesn't mean I have no options.  I have not changed my resolution that the Rapids will get no funds from me until they show they're willing to spend some funds towards being competitive next year.  I will buy no new merchandise or concessions in the stadium until I see some change.  Admittedly the concessions part is easy as with the mini-donut guy being gone (I got a bag of donuts from him at the UW-CU game!) the only thing I normally buy in stadium is a squishy on hot days.

The merchandise part though will save me some money.  A perfect example is this weekend's Supporters' Sale.  Normally I'm too busy this time of year to get out there but I have a nice hole in my schedule tomorrow morning and I would have jumped at the chance to check it out.  Instead I'm going to stay home and watch the Cameroon - DR Congo African Cup of Nations qualifier.  There's a new road jersey coming next year (please let it be better than the horrible FSL-lite kit) and regardless of how good it looks I'm passing.  The good news is that the Rapids, along with other MLS teams, are doing supporters faces on the numbers of their kits in August and fans wil be able to buy their own versions of the jerseys.  Hopefully by August the Rapids will be doing well enough that I'm willing to buy a jersey with my own face on it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 Player Of The Year

I'm a little late getting to this, but I need a break after he way the season ended.  Reviewing my Man of the Match awards:

1 award - Berner, Jose Mari, Nasco, Piermayr, Torres, the fans (the Mother's Day blizzard loss to Chivas USA), and the fan who paid for the plane at the final game

2 awards - Buddle, Eloundou, Moor, Sanchez

3 awards - Irwin, Powers, Serna

5 awards - Brown

Well, that makes this decision easy, and right in line with my gut feeling.  My Player of the Year is Deshorn Brown.

This season Brown was the only thing close to consistent on the offensive end.  He could be maddening at times but he still managed to finish 10 times for the second year in a row.  Only two other Rapids players have ever had back-to-back double-digit scoring seasons, Mark Chung and Conor Casey.  He's also the only player other than C+C Goal Factory to get to double-digits since Cunningham in 2005.  Over his first two seasons he's already 9th on the Rapids all-time list, and his current rate of scoring (a goal in just over every 3 appearances) is behind only Conor Casey and John Spencer all-time.

This year he had 4 more goals than Sanchez, and 5 of Sanchez's 6 were from the PK spot.  Powers was third with 5.  Essentially Brown doubled the goals of the next closest player.  Given how bad our defense was, nobody on that half of the field could be PotY and Brown is clearly the offensive PotY.

Despite my Man of the Match awards I'd give Jose Mari the runner-up spot.  He was 4th on the team with goals (with 4) including some absolute stunners.  He also was a sold distributor in midfield and largely wasn't at fault in our defensive breakdowns, other than the team is used to playing with hard-man defensive mid like Pablo and Thomas which isn't Jose Mari's game.

Not surprisingly Brown's season has continued after the season.  He's currently with the Jamaican National Team which is playing Martinique this evening (right now actually) in Caribbean Cup competition.  The Caribbean Cup is the qualification tournament for next summer's Gold Cup.  They will also play Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda later this week.  The top two teams in that group will qualify for the 2015 Gold Cup and the 3rd placed team will have a chance (if they're better than the 3rd place team in the other group) to play Honduras for the final spot.  Also the winners of the two groups will play for the Caribbean Cup championship and a spot in 2016's Copa America Centenario.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

End Of Season Roster Review

Usually here at the end of the season I go through the roster with my opinions of who are core players are, who we should keep until an upgrade can be found, and who we should cut bait on.  Sadly this year there isn't much on the roster that is worth keeping if there's a better option.  On top of that we've got an expansion draft coming next month as Orlando City and NYCFC enter the league.

So this year I'm going to break down who we should protect in the expansion draft and why.  Honestly, beyond this group of players, there's really not much left that needs to be kept.  Anyone who doesn't make the protected list should be upgraded immediately, if not flat out cut.

For my list I'm using the same rules MLS has used for expansion drafts the last couple of cycles.  Each team gets to protect 11 players, homegrown and Generation Adidas players are protected automatically and don't count towards the total of 11, and each team must protect at least 3 internationals unless they have less than 3, then they must protect all but 1.

Davy Armstrong (homegrown)
Marlon Hairston (Generation Adidas)
Shane O'Neill (homegrown)
Dillon Serna (homegrown)
* - Deshorn Brown was a GA player as well but he has almost certainly played enough to lose that designation after this season.

Deshorn Brown - Back-to-back team Golden Boot.  Obvious choice
Jose Mari - Good calming presence in the midfield and somebody to distribute
Gabriel Torres - He's a key part of next season, either getting on the same page as the team or what we'll get when we sell/trade him.

Final 8:
Charles Eloundou - Young kid with some exciting flashes
Clint Irwin - Our best GK and one of our better players
Chris Klute - Off year this year but we can hope for a bounce-back
Drew Moor - Veteran leadership and a solid CB
John Neeskens - Young player with potential
Dillon Powers - Defending RotY and a core member of the midfield
Vicente Sanchez - Veteran leadership and creativity
Wild Card - Whichever young player stands out the most to the coaching staff

That's it.  Everyone else is either not good enough, too expensive, or both.  Here are my clear cuts:

Edson Buddle - Way too expensive for return
Zat Knight - Sorry but he didn't impress in 4 games.  Moor does everything he does better.
Danny Mwanga - See Edson Buddle

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bow Down!

Picture from the UW Athletic Department