Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hot Stove Season Hots Up

Before we get to the player rumors, one piece of coaching news.  Brian Mullan was named an assistant coach yesterday,  Its good to see the team rewarding core players after retirement like this.  Two-thirds of the MLS Cup winning starting midfield are now coaching at the club (Pablo, Mullan, and Smith with the Academy).

Now onto the player news.  Off an on over the last couple of days we've seen confirmation tweets from South America that the Rapids have actually signed Juan Ramirez for a $2 million transfer fee as has been rumored.  Nothing official from the club yet but some connected fans have also heard similar rumors.  So this sounds like a done deal just waiting for the i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed.  Its a big move for the club.  Dropping that kind of money on an essentially unknown attacking mid/winger will either pay of huge when we sell him on or blow up in their face.

Then this morning stories out of Ireland linked the Rapids to signing Wolves striker Kevin Doyle.  Later in the morning ESPN picked up the rumor, which made for some good discussion fodder for the fans but nobody knew if all the stories linked back to the same source in Ireland or if there was more to it.  Then about 10:30 the Denver Post confirmed the Rapids interest with the news that Doyle is actually in Denver and took in the Nuggets game with Rapids brass last night.

This appears to be the "goal scorer" Hinchey has talked about this offseason.  Doyle was with Reading when they were promoted to the EPL and then relegated from the Championship, scoring 55 times in 157 appearances with the club.  He joined Wolves before the 2009-10 season as they had just been promoted to the EPL.  He scored 9 goals as the loan striker in a 4-5-1 formation that season.  Wolves then went through back-to-back relegations and loaned him out, first to QPR and then Crystal Palace but he got little playing time at either club.  He also has returned to the Irish National Team for recent friendlies against Costa Rica and Oman, scoring in both games.

Doyle has been compared to Conor Casey in style of play, which is exactly what the Rapids need.  Somebody to hold up the ball, maintain possession in the attacking third, and play through balls for Brown and Torres (and maybe Ramirez) to run on to.  Of course at 31 years old and with a history of minor but annoying injuries the specter of Caleb Folan still looms large.

The interesting thing about both Ramirez and Doyle as DP signings is that neither one look like sure bets.  While Torres has been hit or miss in hindsight its hard to blame the Rapids for jumping on a young striker who just shared the Golden Boot in the Gold Cup.  Hinchey has talked about small teams like the Rapids having to get their DP signings right to compete.  These two might be right, but its not immediately obvious that they will be.  We're certainly going to find out if that money they talked about spending on scouting this offseason went to good use or not.

One final note, pictures from training last week show that defender Patrick Slogic is in camp.  Slogic was in the Rapids youth organization and then went to Cornell.  He was in camp with the Crew last season after graduating but failed to make the team.  He played with Rochester last year and was signed by Charlotte for 2015.  He grew up in the Springs so this may just be a chance for him to get some training in before Charlotte opens its preseason or the Rapids may be taking a look at him as something more.

Below is an updated roster.  I've added Doyle, Ramirez, and Slogic into the unsigned list for now since there are solid links between them and the Rapids.

(* = international):

John Berner
Clint Irwin
Zac MacMath

Marc Burch
Bobby Burling
Brandon Fricke
Michael Harrington
Drew Moor
John Neeskens
Shane O'Neill
Axel Sjoberg*

Sam Cronin
Marlon Hairston
Nick LaBrocca
Lucas Pittinari*
Dillon Powers
Marcelo Sarvas
Dillon Serna
Jared Watts

Deshorn Brown*
Caleb Calvert
Charles Eloundou* (not yet in camp)
Vicente Sanchez
Gabriel Torres*

D Joseph Greenspan (draftee, on Naval duty through 2017 probably)
D Matt Jeffrey (draftee)
D Wes Knight (trialist in camp)
D Ben Newnam (trialist in camp)
D Patrick Slogic (confirmed to be in camp)
D Grant Van de Casteele (confirmed to be in camp)
M Carlos Alvarez (confirmed to be in camp)
M Juan Ramirez* (multiple reports of signing with the Rapids)
F Dominique Badji* (draftee)
F Kevin Doyle* (in town negotiating)

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