Thursday, May 28, 2015

Colorado Still Winless In Seattle

You knew it was not going to go our way when Sjoberg was a late scratch due to a stomach bug and Watts started in his place alongside Burling.  Sure enough, 15 minutes in, a poor decision by Powers and a bad deflection from Watts led to a Sounders goal and after that the Rapids were chasing the game, badly.  After their first road loss Colorado will have to rebound to face the Timbers on Saturday.

General impressions:
  • The Rapids are now 0-1-10 in Seattle with a 26-7 goal differential all time.
  • The first half was awful.  Colorado essentially stood around and let Seattle pass the ball all over the field.  They were lucky to only be down one.
  • As much as I like to hammer Watts for poor play the bigger mistake on the Seattle goal was Powers.  His decision to try to play the ball in small space instead of just clearing it led to an easy turnover and cross.
  • That said, WTF was that Watts?  Have you ever cleared a ball before?
  • Pappa essentially has no right foot, so beautiful goal from him.  Harrington expected him to go left like he always does and left him was too much space on the right.
  • Doyle in Powers role and Powers on the left did not work.  Powers has to be in the center which means Doyle up top.  Either that means a 4-4-2 to play Solignac at the same time or only putting one of our two new strikers at once.
  • Pittinari was a turnover machine last night, I don't know how he managed to go 90.
  • Torres was AWOL in the first half, I can't blame Pablo for subbing him off.
  • The strategy of balls over the top hoping Slognac or Doyle could do something isn't going to work against most teams, certainly not against Seattle.
  • Irwin had a good night, could do nothing about the goal.
  • Our set pieces were worse than normal.  I particularly liked the one in the Seattle's end in the second half that didn't get past the 1-man wall and resulted in a save from Irwin within 15 seconds.
Man of the Match: Juan Ramirez.  Putting him in actually created a spark to our offense and showed us what a hustling Rapid looked like.  What few dangerous chances we had came through him.

Prediction for Portland: Family events are going to keep me from putting up my normal  preview tomorrow night.  I expect a 1-0 win against Portland on Saturday with a goal from Torres.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rapids To Face Switchbacks In USOC

Colorado Springs just eliminated FSL2 1-0 setting up an all Colorado matchup in the U.S. Open Cup 4th round as the Switchbacks will come north to play the Rapids on June 16th.

This also makes it Colorado: 2 - Utah: 0 in the USOC this year after Harpos FC eliminated BYU in the 1st round.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rapids Try To Do Something They've Never Done

A Sounder of wild pigs

Namely, win in Seattle.  On short rest and on artificial turf Colorado will head to my hometown looking to keep their undefeated road streak alive and hopefully get their first 3 points ever in the Emerald City.  In our 10 previous competitive matches played in Seattle (or Tukwila) we've had 1 draw and lost 9, being outscored 25-7.  Seattle is the only MLS city that Colorado has never won in (not counting the new expansion cities of NYC proper and Orlando, where they haven't played a league match yet).  Game time tomorrow is 8pm on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Marlon Hairston (hamstring injury); M Nick LaBrocca (concussion); M Marcelo Sarvas (knee surgery)

International Absences:
USA U-23s: D Shane O'Neill, M Dillon Serna

Seattle is expecting to get Martins back, unfortunately, but will probably be missing Pineda.  Otherwise they're healthy.  On short rest with another game this weekend both teams will have to balance rest versus going for all 3 points.  What I think Pablo will do:

This is the best mixture of rested players, young players, and players who didn't go a full 90 on Saturday I could come up with.  I stuck with Solignac up front because he's played on artificial turf in Finland but we could see Doyle get the start.

Strategic Consideration: Martins and Dempsey.  We saw them burn us in our game at the Dick in April and Martins had a goal of the year candidate to finish the game off.  We have  to do a better job shutting them down.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Solignac.  This is incredibly optimistic given our track record in Seattle and Pablo's track record on short-rest but I'm feeling positive after our win on Saturday.  I wouldn't be at all shocked if we pick up our third loss but I think the short rest will be the equalizer for the two teams.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rapids Get First Home Win In Over 300 Days

For the first time since April 18th a Colorado game had a winner.  For the first time since July 25th 2014 a Colorado game at the Dick ended with Colorado winning!  The Rapids continued their streak of only scoring once for a 6th straight game but for the first time since the 4-0 win in Dallas the defense kept a clean sheet for the second win of the season.

General impressions:
  • Sick assist by Torres.  Just flicked up up and waited for Pittinari to finish.  Got to be goal of the week.
  • Great to get a look at Solignac and Doyle.  Solignac almost had a second goal before it was stopped by probably another Save of the Week.
  • I also liked how neither one of them shied from the physical nature of the league.  hey both were willing to stand their ground and take (and give) shoulder charges as needed.
  • Vancouver fans are complaining about the lack of a call for the challenge on Koffie that started the goal sequence.  While one could have been called it could have just as easily not been called.  There's not much to complain about.
  • now on the waved off Vancouver goal I think the fans have a point.  I've watched multiple replays from multiple angles and I don't see what the ref called.  Something happened in the wall as everyone went down like dominoes but I saw nothing that stood out as a foul.  The CR did warn Vancouver right before the restart so he might have known something was coming and seen it but I'm still confused.
  • However he did the sequence right as he didn't call the foul until after the kick was taken so if there was a foul the correct restart (a Rapids free kick) was applied.
  • Other than the assist  Powers and Torres had quiet nights.  It felt like Vancouver decided they were going to shut those two down with heavy pressure and force the game to go elsewhere.  It didn't work, and hopefully that strategy is less useful going forward with Doyle and Solignac being threats.
  • Ramirez had less dribbles into dead ends which is a good sign.
  • Sjoberg is a beast.  His clean collision in the 14th minute just showed his size difference.  Rosales was trying to remember why he's playing this game while Axel just shrugged it off.  He has to be a Rookie of the Year candidate at this point.
  • Harrington not starting was interesting.  Maybe a knock in warm-ups?
  • O'Neill and Serna didn't make the 18 and today we found out they got called up for the Toulon U-23 tournament later this week.  Maybe Pablo knows we won't have them much this year (between Toulon and Olympic qualifying) and is trying to find an 18 that doesn't rely on them?
  • Seeing Drew Moor immediately look at 108 to celebrate at the final whistle was great.  He knows how mush this streak took out of the fans.
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Had a number of big saves, including this Karate Kid "wax on" parry in the 77th minute.  Got his 5th shut out of the season, tied for 3rd in the league 1 behind his opposition in this one and his opposition Wednesday night.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rapids Get Going Again After Unexpected Bye Week

A Wet Week For A Wet Matchup

After the Sporks wimped out on us last week the team has had two weeks of rest before tomorrow night's game against the Whitecaps.  Meanwhile Vancouver scored a last minute goal over Edmonton on Wednesday night to progress to the final of the Canadian Championship.  Advantage Rapids.  Tomorrow night's game is at 7pm so the tailgate, featuring bahn mi hot dogs, will start at 4.  It sounds like a sellout tomorrow so hopefully the crowd will be into the game.  Marcelo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Marcelo Sarvas (knee surgery)

Looking good for our options.  Vancouver is down 3 players due to injury and have a couple more close to yellow card suspension.  My guess at our XI:

That's the same XI announced for the KC game last week.  The only change I could see would be LaBrocca for Cronin.  I think Doyle isn't ready to start at altitude but I'm sure we'll see him in the second half.

Strategic Consideration: Press.  Vancouver is on short rest and at altitude while the Rapids are on long rest.  Take full advantage to wear them down.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Torres and Solignac.  Going out on a limb a bit but I think the discrepancy in rest is enough to give us an edge.  We get the winning goal late against a tired Whitecaps side.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rapids To Host USOC 4th Round Game

Tonight the USSF revealed the draw for the U.S. Open Cup 4th Round.  The Rapids were drawn at home(!) against the winner of the 3rd round game between the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and Real Monarchs, played in SLC.  The Monarchs are FSL's USL reserve team.  The Rapids will host the winner on June 16th at 7pm.  We're still awaiting ticket information.  This was the most logical matchup for the Rapids as the USSF tries to keep things regionalized until later rounds to save money.  The one MLS vs. MLS matchup will be Seattle vs. Portland.

This gives the Rapids a bit of a busy schedule to end June:
6/16 - Switchbacks/Monarchs (U.S. Open Cup)
6/19 - Dallas
6/24 - @Orlando (which I'll be at)
6/27 - @KC (if they don't find a reason to wimp out again)

4 games in 11 days but at leas the first two are at home.  Of course Pablo Mastroeni and Marc Burch will be suspended for the USOC game due to being ejected against Atlanta in the loss that ended our run last season.

The Charlotte Independence play a 3rd round game against thee Carolina Railhawks with the winner going to New England in the 4th round.  Any of the Rapids players who play for Charlotte in their 3rd round game (or later) can't play for the Rapids in the USOC and vice versa.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farcical Reschedule For KC-Colorado To Oct. 21st

Today the teams announced that Saturday's postponed game will be played on Wednesday. Oct 21st at 6:30pm Mountain.

Honestly this whole postponement turned into a comical mess where KC played the Rapids (and presumably the league) to get exactly what they wanted.  Almost every MLS postponed game is played the next day.  That's what Pablo was expecting:
"Everyone else (with a postponed game) has always played the following day," Mastroeni said. "I (wasn't) even thinking that it's an option not to play the following day."
To be fair that's not entirely true, there are MLS games that get delayed beyond the next day, but they're few and far-between.

KC had an obvious incentive not to play Sunday.  They were very beat up and they have a game on Wednesday night.  By delaying until October they get all season to get healthy.  They also get a favorable schedule in the final week.  Friday @SJ, Wednesday at home in the make-up game, and Sunday at home against LA.  Meanwhile Colorado does get a bye the weekend before but then they play Wednesday in KC and Sunday in Portland for the final two games of the season.  I'm sure when we get to that week we'll get lots of talk about how the "schedule did no favors" to the Rapids, much like we did last month during the NY-LA trip, without any comments that the schedule wasn't to blame, the desire by the other team to mess with our schedule was.

The league promoted how they are having everyone play a conference opponent on the final Sunday of games and to have all those games kick off at the same time.  Coincidentally they also made sure not to schedule a mid-week game leading into that which allowed every team to have equal rest.  Now that's out the window for these two teams but especially for Colorado who has to travel for two games.

Both teams had June 13th and 14th off and Labor Day weekend off.  Why the league didn't step in and tell the teams to use one of those weekends is beyond me.  KC may have shied away from the June date as its an international weekend and Kc would be expected to be missing players, but that's why they shied away from playing on Sunday as well.  At some point somebody (the Rapids FO or the league) needed to tell them no, you don't get to veto every date.

Its also been reported that MLS's new postponement rules do not apply as the game never started.  Had they applied both teams would have had to use the same 18-man roster they submitted for the game.  That would have been an advantage for the Rapids as KC was a weakened side this past weekend and may have balanced out the travel issue.  While we will now be allowed to use Doyle and any other players added, I would have gladly traded not using Doyle for the number of players KC would have had to leave out.

Playing on Sunday would have been the right thing to do both for the competition and the fans who traveled from Denver.  They spent a lot of money and time to travel to support the team and the decision by KC not to play left them with nothing.  I hope Sporting is taking care of them, its the least they could do for their decision.

In the end this looks like another example of the Rapids taking one on the chin for another team.  First it was the NY game being moved and forcing us to play on both coasts in a 72 hour period.  Now its KC using the weather as an excuse to chicken out of playing us in their weakened state and moving the game to an advantageous position for them.  At some point it would be nice to see some evidence the Front Office is fighting for this team, even if they're losing.  At the moment it appears they're happy to bend over backwards to help out any other team.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rapids Get Reinforcements

Two reinforcements for Colorado today.  The big news was the official arrival of our new DP, Kevin Doyle.
By all reports Doyle is now available for selection for any games.  His readiness to play, especially at altitude, is still up in the air.

The other piece of news is that Joseph Greenspan has been cleared by the Navy to play in MLS this year.  Greenspan is a center back and was the Rapids 2nd round pick in this year's draft out out the Naval Academy.  He graduates Friday and was expected to join his ship, the USS Sampson, in San Diego.  Instead the Navy has stationed him as a recruiter in Denver for the remainder of the MLS season where he'll train with the Rapids in the morning and do his recruiting in the afternoon.  After the season he'll join his surface warfare ship to begin what's expected to be at least 2 years of active duty.  After that he hopes to petition the Navy to let him serve the rest of his 5-year obligation as a reservist and return to the Rapids in 2018.  Of course this is all up to the Navy so he may not be allowed to return, or the Navy may decide there's more PR value in letting him return early.

With these additions the Rapids are now at 29 players against a roster limit of 28.  Greenspan has not signed his contract so the team doesn't have to make a move yet, and with Alvarez, Berner, Calvert, and Hairston in Charlotte they may be allowed so go over the 28 limit, the rules about USL loans as part of the partnership have not been made public.  We'll know more once the team makes an official announcement about Greenspan's status.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Game Will Not Be Played Tomorrow

Official announcements from KC are that the game will not be made up tomorrow.  The new date is still to be announced.

Colorado-SporKCs Delayed Due To Lightning

Tonight's game has been postponed due to lightning in KC.  No official word on rescheduling but it appears it will be tomorrow afternoon sometime.  I'll update when we get an official announcement.

Welcoming The Sporks Back To The West

A No-Win Scenario For KC?

SPORting Kc is back in the West this season and this will be the Rapids first shot at them as conference rivals since 2004.  There was a bit of a rivalry between the Rapids and KC in the first decade of MLS but with Kc moving to the East that's been replaced with Dallas (due to owning them in the playoffs) and FSL (due to northern Utah sucking in general).  Game time tonight is 6:30pm and 'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Marcelo Sarvas (knee surgery)

F Kevin Doyle (transfer paperwork)

That's the best looking player availability report we've had in a while.  KC is missing 5 players including like likes of Opara, Zusi, and Meyers to injury.  My guess at our almost healthy starting XI:

This assumes that everyone who had injuries is healthy enough to start.  If Burch isn't ready Harrington goes back LB and we see Riley.  If Powers mid-week knock is more serious Torres goes to t he middle and we see Sanchez (who also had a mid-week knock) or Serna.  And yes, I think Solignac gets the start.  They've been raving about his fitness and Badji has been bad.

Strategic Consideration: Press the attack.  Due to injuries KC's center backs are depleted.  Take advantage and keep hammering on them.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Solignac.  Yes, our 5th(?) 1-1 draw in a row but I think with a weakened KC back line and strengthened back line for us we can get a goal and hold them to just one.  If we don't score first though it could snowball into a bad loss as we push for an equalizer.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying at the Dick in October

The Rapids announced today that DSG Park will host the 3rd group stage games of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in October.  All 8 qualified teams will play on either Tue. October 6th or Wed. Oct. 7th in Commerce City.  These will be the U-23 National Teams playing, though the teams that qualify for the Olympics are allowed to bring 3 overage players to the actual Games.

The U.S. (as tournament hosts) will be in Group A and Mexico will be seeded in Group B.  Canada also automatically qualifies for the tournament.  3 teams from Central America and 2 Caribbean teams will round out the groups.  We'll find out those qualifiers in August, at which time the draw will be held and schedules and ticket information will be released.  Presumably the format will be two games Tuesday night and two games Wednesday night.

I'm much more excited about these games than I am the All-Star Game.  We'll have to see what the prices are like but I'm more than happy to save my money form Spurs - All-Stars and put it towards at least the U.S.'s night of games if not both nights.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Time Is Running Out On 2015

The Rapids are digging themselves a hole they may not be able to get out of this season.  I know, I know, the season feels like it just started and I'm already saying we're on the ropes but the numbers are not our friends.

Currently the Rapids have 10 points in 10 games.

6 teams from each conference make the playoffs.  Since the league went to 34 games in 2011 the 6th placed team in both conference have averaged 46 points a season.

That means in the remaining 24 games the Rapids need to gather 36 points to be in the playoff conversation.

Doing the (easy) math that means they need to average 1.5 pts/game the rest of the way, or about 50% more than they've averaged so far under Pablo.  Overall he's coached at .95 pts/game, 1 pt/game so far this season.

Overall the Rapids have only averaged 1.5 pts/game over the course of a season 4 times.

1999 - 1.59
2010 - 1.53
2002 - 1.5
2013 - 1.5

Here's where those seasons were at the 30% point (just about where we're at in 2015):

1999 - 1.7
2010 - 1.78
2002 - 1.625
2013 - 1.2

(As you can tell, the annual "summer swoon" of the first 15 years was a real thing :D)

Obviously the only year that's close to our current situation is 2013.  That was also the second year for a coach (Pareja) like 2015 is.  How did we do it in 2013?  Most of it came from a 9 game undefeated streak between June 26th and August 31st where we picked up 19 points and the Rocky Mountain Cup.

To have any shot at the playoffs the 2015 Rapids are going to have to find their own streak where they play at 2.0 pts/game for 10 games.  Each game they lose at this point raises that average by .06 (so a loss in KC Saturday puts the number at 1.56 pts/game the rest of the season).  A draw raises it by .02.  So essentially if we don't win in our next two games we're going to have to play as well as we have ever played over the course of a season the rest of the way just to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.

For all intents and purposes, the Rapids playoff run has to start now!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Point Is Just Not Good Enough

For the fourth straight game the Rapids finished with a 1-1 draw.  Unlike the last two however there was no excuse for the Rapids failing to get all three points.  In the first half the team played its worst 45 minutes of soccer since the season opener and in the second San Jose gave them chance after chance to get back into the game and it still took until stoppage time to score.  Its really time for something to change.  Obviously with Lusi Solignac joining training today and Doyle arriving soon the team leadership is hoping that's the change we need but I'm having my doubts.

General impressions:
  • Mini-donuts are back!!!!
  • Despite that the 10 or so minutes on each side  of halftime are about as miserable as I've been as a Rapids fan in a long while.  Horrible play on the field, pouring rain, and no real end in sight.  This isn't the low point of Rapids fandom (Clavijo's "how true fan are you" still holds that spot) but its pretty depressing.
  • 11 in a row winless at home, a new MLS record
  • 1 win in 24.  If that's not a MLS record it has to be close
  • At this point I'd rather see Torres up front out of his best position than Badji starting.  He needs to head to Charlotte to learn more than his physical gifts give him naturally.
  • Sanchez was better this game, which was a positive sign.
  • I like Ramirez but he needs to learn to look for the pass before he dribbles into a dead-end and gets desperate.
  • Seriously Eloundou, you had the perfect set up and skied it.  WTF?
  • Pittinari, I know you're new to the league but let me tell you a secret.  That Wondo guy is pretty good, letting him run free on a set piece is horrible defending.  Standing around ball watching doesn't help anyone.
  • Some fans wanted to blame Moor or Irwin on the goal but when a teammate leaves a former Golden Boot winner and World Cup veteran unmarked on the far post there's not much you can expect them to do.
  • Nice header by Riley, right place right time.
  • In general the Rapids showed a great final 5 minutes or so.  They needed that drive for the 90 minutes before that though.
  • Pablo post-game: "We did enough to win".  No, no we didn't.  I'm not sure what's worse, he believes the Zen platitudes he spouts in post game interviews, which means he has no ability to read and analyze a game in real-time and shouldn't be coaching, or he knows the platitudes are just that, in which case he's showing some serious contempt for the fans that supposed him the vast majority of his career.
  • Either way I'd like to hear less "Everyone gets a cookie!" and more "We need to do X, Y, or Z better" at this point.
  • The Rapids are currently 3rd in the league in shots, 5th in shots on goal, and in a 3-way tie for 14th in goals.  We need a finisher.
  • The 6th placed team, which would be the final playoff team this year, has averaged 46 points a season since the league went to 34 games.  That means the Rapids need to average 1.5 pts/game the rest of the way to hit that mark.
Man of the Match: Dillon Powers.  Nobody had a great game but Powers had a good game.  That's still better than a number of players.  Its becoming clear that the offense will run through Powers this season and he seems to be up to the challenge.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lightning Strikes

(Not Once but Twice)

There's a good chance of lightning in the area tomorrow night in Commerce City as the Rapids take on the former Clash.  Forecast for game time is 50 degrees and 75% chance of thunderstorms.  Luckily the wind should be coming out of the East so it will hopefully angle the rain a bit and allow the East roof that stops right over my row to protect me.  The Rapids will try to avoid setting a new MLS home winless streak record (currently tied for the record at 10).  The rainy tailgate will start at 5pm.  Those who can't make it or don't want to brave the weather can watch on UniMas.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Marc Burch (rib injury); D Drew Moor (knee)

F Kevin Doyle (transfer paperwork); F Luis Solignac (transfer paperwork)

San Jose is coming in off of short rest having played a Cinco de Mayo game in Houston on Tuesday.  they're also banged up being down 5 players, including the most annoying player in the league, Lenhart.  My bet at our starting group:

I'd prefer to see O'Neill and Serna over Burling and Sanchez but I bet Pablo tries to keep things as stable as possible.  I think Badji has worn out his chances and we see Torres up fromt but Gaby could still start at right wing with Badji in.

Strategic Consideration: This is as close to a must win as you can get without playoff elimination being on the line.  Home game against a weaker, beat up team, coming in on short rest.  If we don't get a win tomorrow night its time for some serious leadership changes.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Torres.  San Jose's strike force is depleted and our defense is strong so I can see us getting a shutout.  Torres is hot right now and he'll get us our first home win since July 25th of last season.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 At The Quarter Pole

As of halftime on Saturday night the Rapids were exactly 25% of the way through the season.  A quick recap:
  • 1-6-2 record = 1 pt/game
  • 8 goals scored in 9 games
  • 8 goals conceded in 9 games
  • Undefeated on the road
  • Winless at home
  • 10th place in the West, 17th place overall
So more bad than good there, which is probably a fair assessment of the season so far.  Let's break it down by position.

Goalkeeper: Irwin has been a stud in goal, seeing off any kind of challenge from MacMath for the starting spot.  There's maybe 1 or 2 of those 8 goals conceded that you could suggest that Irwin could have done better on.  Berner has been playing for Charlotte and was named USL Player of the Week this week.  Grade: A

Defense: The center backs have been solid.  Moor, Sjoberg, O'Neill, and Burling have worked well together and other than the Seattle game (against the best strike force in the league) has only been beat by top notch play.  Harrington is a great left back, though at times there seems to be a bit of a gab between him and the left center back that can be exploited.  Right back is a mess.  Burch being available to play left and moving Harrington to right is the only configuration I feel comfortable with.  So far Riley, Newnam, and Watts are proving they shouldn't be starting in MLS.  Grade: B-

Midfield: Tons of improvement here.  Ramirez is young and raw but is showing why he was made a youth DP.  Sarvas was a great pickup, though his knee injury hurts.  Powers is powering (pun intended) the offense with 4 assists.  Pittinari has been capable but hasn't stood out really, he's going to need to up his game if he wants to make a permanent move.  Serna seems to be the odd man out but is a great sub off the bench.  LaBrocca is LaBrocca, some love him, others (me) don't.  Grade: B

Attack: The great weakness of the team.  We only have one true striker (Badji) and one withdrawn striker (Torres).  Badji is proving he's not ready for MLS while Torres is carrying the goal-scoring for the Rapids, with half of the club's goals.  The team is creating chances but can't finish them.  They have moved to solve the problem (more on that later) but for now the attack hasn't been good enough.  Grade: F

Coaching: Pablo has gotten the team playing with a purpose and showing better talent.  He still fails at in-game adjustments though.  His substitutions are questionable and the other coach regularly beats him at second-half tactics.  The addition of Lopez seems to be paying dividends in the player acquisition field but the attack is still suffering.  Mastroeni's post-game Zen quotes are getting ridiculous when there's been 1 win in 23 games and a league-tying 10 games without a win at home.  Credit for establishing a style but everything else has to improve.  Grade: D

Front Office: The roster construction around our strike force was criminal.  Expecting a rookie 4th round pick to carry the team in a 4-5-1 formation is ridiculous.  Selling Brown when we had the chance was good business but not having a replacement lined up until July 1st and getting lucky that Wolves missed the playoffs is a huge mistake.  They've made good moves getting Doyle here early and finding Solignac, but those are moves that should have been made before the season started.  Grade: D

Overall: The team has talent, one of the better defenses in the league, and a midfield that can make chances.  They've only lost twice, to two of the top 3 teams in the league.  The inability to score, especially at home, and the solitary win isn't good enough to keep us in the playoff hunt.  The team needs to start putting goals away and turning draws into wins, otherwise we'll be out of the race by midseason.  Grade: D+

Ask And Ye Shall Receive!

Last night's post about wanting Doyle early was on-target.  The Rapids just sent out a press release announcing they will get him registered before the May 12th deadline and he'll join the team at the end of May.  Well done Front Office!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Get Doyle Signed Now

A week from now the MLS transfer window closes and the Rapids won't be able to bring any other players until the secondary window opens July 1st.

Last weekend Wolves played their last game of the season, missing out on the Championship playoffs on goal differential.

Currently Kevin Doyle's contract with Wolves run through June 30th and his contract with Colorado starts July 1st.

Colorado should move heaven and earth to get Doyle signed and on their books by the close of the MLS window on May 12th.  I believe there are two ways to do this:

  • Wolves releases Doyle on a free (essentially tears up his contract) and the Rapids modify or sign him to a new contract starting May 12th instead of July 1st.
  • Wolves loans Doyle to Colorado for the remaining ~ 2 months of his contract, then he becomes a Rapids player on July 1st.
Without knowing FIFA's, MLS's, and the Championship's exact rules I don't know which option works better and either option would require Doyle to agree so there are three sides to the negotiations.

That said the Rapids have to get this done.  They're biggest hole right now is the ability to finish and they need reinforcements.  Wolves doesn't need Doyle anymore and (you would think) would be willing to work with Colorado to get it done.  The sticking point would be Doyle himself.  I don't know how Championship contracts work but I assume he's going to get paychecks from Wolves from now until June 30th and he probably doesn't want to give that up, unless somehow the Rapids are paying him more money (unlikely).  There should be some sort of creative solution to that though, like the Rapids agreeing to pay him the same amount per week/month/whatever as he'll be getting after June 30th and then Wolves only have to make up the difference or something.

Even assuming this gets done, I don't think its reasonable to expect to see Doyle suited up for the KC game on May 16th.  After a season in England I'm sure Doyle wants some down time, plus he needs to get his family moved across the Atlantic.  But even if he shows up in Colorado on June 1st, trains with the team for a couple of weeks, and makes his first game-day roster against Dallas on June 19th that's still 3+ games earlier than he'll be ready in July.  Given that right now our playoff hopes are very slim, those 3 games might make the difference.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tired Rapids Hold On For A Point

Colorado finished its cross-country trip how they started, with a 1-1 draw, their third of the week+.  The game was sloppy, due to fatigue from the Rapids and inexperience from the Galaxy.  Arena decided to give a number of starters a break before their 3 games in a week this week and paid for the decision by losing 2 points  Travelling 6000 miles and getting two draws against two of the better teams in the league was a successful week for Colorado.

General impressions:
  • Pittinari, Cronin, and LaBrocca all int he starting lineup kind of told you this wasn't going to be a high-scoring game.
  • Fleming had a laugh out loud moment early: "They got past the first 34 seconds, that's the first hurdle right?" (I may have the quote slightly wrong).  I appreciate being able to laugh at the debacle from last season.
  • LaBrocca picked up an early yellow, then pushed  his luck a couple of times.  Glad he didn't see red.
  • Got to love scoring just before half like that.  Torres pushes his team lead to 4 goals which is actually enough to tie for 6th in the league.
  • Cronin had the armband in this one, maybe for the first time this year?
  • Badji had a shot in this game that went out for a throw-in.  On the scale of badness that pegged the needle.
  • I (and other fans) got worried when Juninho, Ishizaki, and Gordon all came in for LA.  Turns out it was for good reason.  An Ishizaki corner to Gordon leveled the score.
  • Irwin didn't have a defender on either post and was beaten just inside the near post.  I know the decision to guard the post is largely an individual one by the keeper but it seems that more often than not at least one post is covered to narrow the goal.
  • The Rapids looked fatigued leading up to the LA goal.  I don't know that it really affected the defense on a set piece but I would have liked to see Pablo sub earlier at this end of a long road trip.
  • Pablo's subs confuse me.  Two weeks ago when down to Seattle Pablo subbed in defenders (which, admittedly, the offensive depth on the bench was thin).  This week, defending a 1-0 and a 1-1 scoreline he subs in three attackers.
  • The draws are god given the situation but this team needs wins.  One point at a time is not good enough.  This coming week with San Jose in town on short rest is as close as you can get to a must win without playoff elimination on the line. 
Man of the Match: Gabriel Torres.  4 gals in 5 games now and he's really found his touch.  He certainly showed Badji how to finish a 1 v 1.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rapids Finish Coast-To-Coast in LA

Rapids on the LA River

72 hours (give or take) after playing RBNY in Harrison, NJ the Rapids will take the field in Carson, CA to face the Galaxy.  No rest for the wicked as they say.  LA meanwhile will have a full week's rest and will be playing at home.  Colorado is currently undefeated on the road with 5 scored and 1 conceded.  Game time tomorrow night is at 8:30 and 'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: M Marcelo Sarvas (knee operation); D Marc Burch (rib injury)
DOUBTFUL: D Drew Moor (knee)

The only good news is that LA is in worse shape on the injury front.  Keane won't be available along with up to four other players.  This is what I think we'll see for a starting XI:

Everyone in this lineup is young and should be able to handle the short rest except LaBrocca, who seems to be able to start every game.  Of course this is Pablo so we could see 5 players we haven't seen yet this season.  Who really knows.

Strategic Consideration: Goals, I'd like to score more than one.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  LA is a good team and the Rapids are tired with lots of travel in their legs.  I think or defense is strong enough to prevent them from hammering us but I don't see where we're going to get a goal from.

Colorado Signs Luis Solignac

Today the Rapids announced the signing of Argentine striker Luis Solignac, something that had been rumored for a couple of weeks.  He'll be eligible to play once his ITC and visa paperwork is done, so not tomorrow but hopefully in the next couple of games.  Solignac will be looked at to fill the "#9" role that thee Rapids are so desperately needing but he's young enough that he shouldn't have much problem making way for Kevin Doyle when he arrives.

With this signing the Rapids are at 28 players, including 8 internationals (that includes Doyle).  That's the max of both categories they're allowed.  There's still an open question as to how/if Berner, Calvert, and Hairston down in Charlotte count against the roster limit but since they're all domestic we're still maxed out on international players no matter what.