Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Roster Review As We End 2014

Barring an unexpected player announcement tomorrow here's a quick review of our currently signed players as the year ends.  The interesting thing is that the rumors out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between the Players Union and the league suggest roster sizes may be reduced as development is shifted to the USL with the new agreement between the leagues.  In the Rapids case that would mean their partnership with Charlotte.  The numbers could drop from 30 down to 24 or 25.

John Berner
Clint Irwin

No surprises here.  The Rapids will probably add a young third keeper if the roster sizes stay high, or put a third keeper in Charlotte.

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Michael Harrington
Chris Klute
Drew Moor
John Neeskens
Shane O'Neill

I think we can assume Zat Knight will also be signed given is protection in the expansion draft.  Its a waste but it is what it is.  Its hard to see us adding much here given the roster realities but we might see another central defender added to cover for Moor's rehab and the possibility of losing O'Neill to Europe (or maybe moving him to d-mid?).

Marlon Hairston
Dillon Powers
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Uh huh.  That's barely enough to put a starting XI on the field.  All signs point to Nick LaBrocca being re-signed as he pulled his name out of the re-entry draft but that's not much help.  We need at minimum a MLS ready d-mid, another wide player (though some of our forwards could fill in to that spot), and a backup for Powers in case of injury.  We probably need at least another 1-2 players on top of that just for depth, though roster limits and flexibility of players may drive that.

Deshorn Brown
Caleb Calvert
Charles Eloundou
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres

Not a bad stable of forwards but the $64,000 question is what's going to happen to Torres?  If he's in camp, committed, and ready to play he jumps to the top of the starting XI.  If we get the Torres of much of 2014 we need another striker to play off of Brown.  Sanchez is Sanchez, when healthy he plays but we can't count on him for more than about 21-23 games a season I think.  I like Eloundou's flashes so far but he's still a work in progress as is Calvert.  With "good" Torres we probably need a solid backup.  With "bad" Torres we need to move him out, free up the salary, and sign a quality striker.

Right now the Rapids have 18 players under contract by all reports with two more (Knight, LaBrocca) likely to sign.  Under the 2014 roster rules that would give us 10 spots to fill but if the rosters reduce to 24 that gives us 4 spots to work with (though in that scenario we could see somebody like Watts, Berner, Calvert, or Eloundou sent to Charlotte to free up a spot).  In that case there's not much room for error in our off-season moves.

Friday, December 19, 2014

One Last Batch Of Pre-Holiday News

A few pieces of news to wrap up the pre-holiday part of the preseason.

  • The Rapids didn't take anyone in the Re-Entry Draft Stage 2, but Marvell Wynne was selected by San Jose.  So that leaves the Rapids with one player from the 2010 team left on the roster, Drew Moor (Armstrong is also around but was waived at the end of the season).
  • Two former Rapids were also taken,  Atiba Harris rejoins Pareja in Dallas and Nathan Sturgis returns to Houston.
  • Season openers were announced today.  We know two Rapids games
    • They'll open the season in Philly on March 7th.
    • We'll get our first look at expansion side NYCFC in our home opener on March 21st.
  • Today Colorado announced that Claudio Lopez has re-joined the club in a Director of Soccer role.  I'm not sure how this fits in with our existing Head Coach, Sporting Director, and Technical Director but I'm happy to see Lopez added to the brain trust.
And with that, I'm out (barring unexpected news next week) for Christmas.  Happy holidays to everyone and I'll try to have a couple of interesting posts during New Year's week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rapids Lose Two, Gain One In Today's Drafts

MLS had two drafts today, the expansion draft for NYCFC and Orlando and the Waiver Draft for all the waived players in the league.

In the expansion draft the Rapids, surprisingly, lost two players including the 3rd overall pick in Tony Cascio to Orlando.  Colorado pulled Marc Burch off the table after Cascio was selected.  Later in the draft Orlando also selected Danny Mwanga.  Overall probably a decent result for the Rapids.  Losing Cascio hurts but removing any chance of Mwanga returning is a huge plus.  We also kept Eloundou and Neeksens which I was concerned about losing.

After the expansion draft the Rapids had the 3rd pick in the waiver draft and selected center-back Bobby Burling, formally with Chivas USA.  Burling entered the league out of college in 2007 and played with Chivas through mid-2009 when he was traded to San Jose.  He was selected by Montreal in the 2011 expansion draft but was immediately traded to Chivas USA where he played through last season.  He averaged 16 appearances a season in his second stint with Chivas.  While in college he played with the PDL Colorado springs Blizzrd, so he's familiar with the area.

That gives us Burling, Moor, and O'Neill at CB, with a Knight signing presumably coming.  I wouldn't be shocked to see us pick up one more CB due to Moor's recovery from his ACL injury and the likelihood that he won't be 100% ready to start the season.  This would also give O'Neill some freedom to move up to his preferred defensive midfield position, especially if Jose Mari leaves.

Monday, December 8, 2014

As Expected, Busy Day For The Rapids

In the short 4 hour trade window this morning the Rapids made two trades, then released their protected list for the expansion draft.

The first move was acquiring Michael Harrington from Portland for allocation money.  Harrington is a 28 year old right back who can play on the left as well.  He spent 6 seasons in KC averaging about 25 appearances a season before moving to Portland for the last two years, making 58 appearances.  Harrington made 125K in Portland last season.

I think this was a solid move by the Rapids.  Getting a steady MLS right back fills in for the out of contract Wynne at a lower cost and frees Klute up to focus on the left side.  We have no idea how much allocation money it cost us but given our hit (Jose Mari, more on that later) and miss (Zat Knight, again more later) track record with internationals its probably good we stuck with a known quantity.

The second move today was sending Joe Nasco and our third round pick in next month's draft to New England for international strikers Dimitry Imbongo (Congo) and Geoffry Castillion (Netherlands) and New England's 2nd round pick next month.

This was clearly a salary dump for NE as Castillion was signed to a 329K contract in August and made 1 appearance for the club.  Imbongo has been in New England for two years, scoring 4 goals in 32 appearances and tying a MLS record with 3 red cards in one season (2013).  He made 123K last year.  This also gives the Revs flexibility in their international count for their protected list.

I don't know what to think about this trade.  I like the swap of draft picks for Nasco, considering he had no future here.  Imbongo might be a decent pick-up if he can cool his hot head.  Castillion looks like an anchor at that salary though.  The good news is that both Imbongo and Castillion (as well as Nasco) had their 2014 options declined so we're not tied to them at their current salaries.

After all of that the Rapids released their expansion draft list:

Protected Homegrown Players: Armstrong, Calvert, O'Neill, Serna
Protected Generation Adidas Player: Hairston
Protected Players: Brown, Harrington, Irwin, Klute, Knight, LaBrocca, Moor, Powers, Sanchez, Torres, Watts

That leaves the following players unprotected and available for NYCFC or Orlando to select on Wednesday:
Agbossomounde, Alvarez, Berner, Buddle, Burch, Cascio, Castillion, Eloundou, Hill, Imbongo, Jose Mari, Mullan, Mwanga, Neeskens, Piermayr, Van De Casteele, Wynne

The big surprise is seeing Jose Mari unprotected but today's announcement also included the information that he's looking to go back to Spain in this offseason.  Other than that there are no real surprises, but I don't fully agree.  IMO I'd swap out Knight, LaBrocca, and Watts for Cascio, Eloundou, and Neeskens.  Knight didn't show enough for his cost in his four appearances.  If LaBrocca is important enough for us to protect we're not a good MLS team and need to get better.  Watts was just bad last season and while young, I'd rather risk him being taken than one of the other three.

Labrocca is the only player not under contract we protected while Berner, Burch, Cascio, Eloundou, and Neeskens are under contract for next season but unprotected.

Tomorrow should be quiet as the trade window is closed until after Wednesday's expansion draft.  If the Rapids do have somebody selected they'll be able to protect 1 more player.  My list would be Eloundou, then Cascio.  At most they can lose two players on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Go Revs!

I know I've been quiet the last couple of weeks but there's been almost nothing going on in Rapids land.  Pablo visiting Karanka at Middlesbrough for some coaching education is the extent of the news since the release of the declined contract options.  Next week will be busy though with the release of the expansion draft protected players tomorrow or Tuesday, the expansion draft for NYCFC and Orlando on Wednesday and the first phase of the re-entry draft on Friday, with the second phase the following Thursday.  Its also rumored that we'll see the 2015 schedule in the next couple of weeks.

Until then though I just wanted to show some support for the Revolution in today's MLS Cup.  Jermaine Jones is my favorite current Nat and the Midnight Riders are the best group of non-Rapids fans in the league.  They deserve to finally win a championship.