Monday, August 31, 2015

Rapids Stick A Spork In KC

Wow, who were those guys and can we keep them?  For the first time in a while the Rapids played good soccer for 90  minutes and were somewhat entertaining to watch.  Amazing what you can do when you start XI people in pretty much their natural positions and you put 4-5 attacking players on the field at once!

General Impressions:

  • That was one of the better atmospheres at the Dick we've had this season.  I think only the FSL game (which was 80 minutes of bad soccer wiped away by a 2 goal rivalry win) was better.
  • Hello Vicente Sanchez!  I don't know how long he can keep it up, but he was on fire this week.
  • Our defense was mainly solid but had a couple of bobbles.  The central defenders got worked on the KC goal and both Sjoberg and Moor are now suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
  • Sarvas was a bit invisible, yet MLS named him to t he Team of the Week.  I don't know if I missed something or they did.
  • Clint Irwin, save(s) of the week easily.  I thought we had blown the lead there.
  • Great goal for Figueroa and overall solid play.  Very impressed by him Saturday night.
  • I was questioning the Badji sub but it worked out.  I fully agreed with the other subs.
  • Some KC fans (and their coach) are complaining about the lack of a foul called right before the goal.  They are conveniently ignoring the lack of a foul called on KC immediately before and after the missing foul on Colorado.
  • Overall I thought the game was evenly called even if the foul threshold was a bit high at times.
  • Looks like we'll be missing Moor, Sjoberg (both suspended), Serna, Doyle, and Figueroa in Vancouver (all on international duty) in a week and a half.  Ouch.
  • Its nice being out of the basement, and seeing FSL down there in our place.
  • SportsClubStats has us up to a 6.7% chance to make the playoffs.  The Bodmer Line is now down to 1.63 - 2.0 pts/game.  If we win in Vancouver, then we can start thinking about being back in the playoff chase.

Man of the Match: Kevin Doyle.  Honestly Sanchez might be the better choice but Doyle deserves the nod for having game winning goals in back to back games.  He now has 4 goals on the season, tying him with Torres for the lead.  All 4 of them have been game winning goals!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rapids Hoping To Leave KC Sad

She's even SporKC's blue

Back at it right away tomorrow with a 2 game win streak.  And unlike when we were in KC earlier this year I'm sure we'll get the game in this weekend.  The SporKCs are on a bit of a down swing at the moment but overall they're still one of the best teams in the conference so this will be a tough match.  Game time is at 7 so the tailgate, featuring gyros, will be at 4.  'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Jared Watts; F Luis Solignac (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (back); D James Riley (concussion); M Lucas Pittinari (hamstring)

SUSPENDED: D Bobby Burling (yellow card accumulation)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Drew Moor (2 games left for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Lucas Pittinari (3 games left for good behavior reduction)
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley; M Sam Cronin; F Kevin Doyle

KC has 7 players questionable or worse, which is part of the reason they're  in this slump.  The Rapids are fairly healthy though the third game in a week means everyone is a bit tired.  My guess at the XI: 

This seems to be the best mix of rested/young players and quality to give  us a chance.

Strategic Consideration: Play something approaching MLS-level recognizable soccer?  KC isn't the bottom of the league teams like Chicago and Houston we've been playing.  They may be in a slump but they're a lot better than we've seen the last couple of weeks.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Doyle.  Short rest against a good team?  I don't have much hope.  Doyle gets on a bit of a role but our poor possession and attack in the final third burns us and KC gets the win.

I. Told. You. So.

The Denver Post had an article today about Pablo's tenuous position.  Included was a paraphrase from Tim Hinchey that made my eyes roll back so far I could see inside my head.
Hinchey reiterated that Mastroeni was thrown into a tough situation last year, being officially named coach a week before the first match. 
Let us turn our attention back to February 20th, 2014 when I got an unsolicited email from Tim Hinchey after pointing out a couple of days earlier that we were 4 weeks from opening day and didn't have a coach yet.
However, we are not “killing time” on our coach search nor do you have any clue how to run a professional sports organization and any such complications when hire a head coach.
Your email response asking and suggesting whether "I realize" we need a coach is offensive.  I have worked in professional sports for over 20 years and I doubt I would be in my current position if I was so clueless. 
These business metrics clearly indicate our fans are supporting the club and our efforts to find the absolute right coach for this club.  Simply appointing any candidate to satisfy any minority outside pressure would be foolish. 
Yeah, this would be the point where I would take a victory lap if it weren't on the back of two of the worst seasons in  club history.  instead I'm just going to say I told you so.  Its ridiculous to see Hinchey reported as using the late naming of Pablo as coach as an excuse when he slammed me for pointing out how bad of an idea that was and assured me that I had no idea what I was talking about (and then somebody in the Rapids leaked the emails).

The article goes on.  Hinchey says it won't be fair to do an evaluation until the season is over.  for all practical purposes it is though, so I'd love to know what the bar is for Pablo for the next 9 games.  5 wins?  That's the only thing that should get him close to keeping his job.  That would be 10 wins in the second half of the season which would be impressive.

At the end of the article Hinchey addresses the KSEOut movement (which I'll be addressing next week):
The green movement, he said, points to growth among the Rapids' support.
"I think four years ago, I'm not sure we would've heard this kind of noise," Hinchey said. "I think it's actually a positive that we hear this noise. We just need to get results and do better for them."
4 years ago would be just about the time Gary Smith was talking to the Denver Post about how he couldn't work with Paul Bravo and how he didn't understand how the CMO got to have a say in player decisions.  In case you forgot, the CMO at that time was Tim Hinchey.  Oh, and the Rapids were just 9 months removed from lifting MLS Cup.

Excuse me Tim, but is that really the parallel you want to draw right now?  Really?  Because that's really not going to come out in your favor.

At this point I'm just shaking my head.  When you're in a hole, stop digging!

In unrelated news the Rapids recalled Badji from Charlotte today.  This is probably due to Serna being named to the pre-qualifer U-23 camp (and likely to the qualifying team) and the rumor that Doyle might e in the plans for Ireland soon.  In order to make room they've loaned Eloundou to Colorado Springs.  That's a bit surprising after some of the talk from both sides on how they didn't want to partner together.  Maybe a thawing of that relationship?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Suite Win For The Rapids

Me in a Rapids suite last night

After the last 270 minutes of Rapids games I'm glad I watched the last 90 in a bit of luxury.  A big thank you to C38, the Rapids, and InBev for working out a donation of the InBev suite to the C38 tailgate crew last night.  It was nice to see how the upper crust lives and we all had a good time seeing the game from a new perspective.

The game though, ugh.  That was two teams that were having a hard time just stringing passes together, much less play entertaining soccer.  The Rapids did match their shots on target of the last two games combined, but that was only 4 total.  At least they scored two of them.

A pretty goal from the Irish duo of St. Ledger and Doyle for the win.  There were some raised eyebrows when we signed St. Ledger (including mine), picking up a guy who got cut from one of the worst defenses in the league, but he's played very well after he got in sync with his new teammates.

The Rapids PK might have been soft but I haven't seen a good look at it.  The Houston PK was very clear though.  Was the ball out on the final goal?  Impossible for me to tell.  If the ref had flagged it out I couldn't say he was wrong but  can't say he's wrong by not flagging it.

The Bodmer Line is now down to 1.78 - 2.0 pts/game.

Man of the Match: Vicente Sanchez.  Earlier in the season I thought he wasn't on the same page as the team as was trying to do too much, which was hurting us.  Now that the team seems to have devolved to more individualistic play Sanchez's strengths are helping us.  He was the most dangerous player we had last night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rapids Try To Short Dynamo

Electricity + Water = Trouble

After what seems like a long stretch on the road but was only a couple of games the Rapids host Houston tomorrow night.  The Dynamo still cling to playoff hopes though a loss in Commerce City tomorrow night would erase most of them.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4, or whenever people get there after work. ;)  'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Jared Watts; F Luis Solignac (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (back); D James Riley (concussion); M Lucas Pittinari (hamstring)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Bobby Burling (2 games left for good behavior reduction); D Axel Sjoberg (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Drew Moor (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Lucas Pittinari (3 games left for good behavior reduction)

Houston has 5 players questionable or worse, including DaMarcus Beasley  Its always ahrd to predict a lineup for the 2nd game of a 3 game week but here's my attempt: 

But really there's any number of players who can start.

Strategic Consideration: Try to have more than 2 shots on target.  Lets try for our high for the month and get 6!

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Sanchez.  Hard to predict a win at this point but I'm feeling positive about getting something out of this match.

Monday, August 24, 2015

An Ugly Win Is Still 3 Points

Great opening from the Rapids.  Then 89 minutes of the same dreck we've seen over and over this season.  After Serna's goal the Rapids had 1 shot on target the rest of the game (a good shot from distance by Torres).  Attacking soccer huh?  If we weren't playing the worst team in the Eastern Conference we don't win as Chicago had chance after chance, especially in the first half.

The Rapids got the early lead and then sat back and absorbed pressure for 89 minutes.  It worked, only due to some helpful posts and good play from Irwin, along with a fairly solid outing from Burling and St. Ledger.  This is certainly not the attractive soccer that's been hyped though, we've got 4 shots on goal total in our last two games.

Still credit to the team for getting a tough win.  It was our first ever win at Toyota Stadium and it gets us that much closer to improving on last season.  We need 6 points in our last 10 to show an improvement over last season.

Nobody should get excited about our playoff chances though, despite the expected (and in reality, practically required) spin in the media.  Per SportsClubStats we still have the lowest chance of making the playoffs in the league at 2.3% (Chicago is at 4.3% after the loss).  The Bodmer Line is down to 1.9 - 2.1 pts/game.

Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Big time saves to get us a win.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stage 7, 2015 USA Pro Challenge

I haven't done my normal coverage of the USA Pro Challenge this week, too much going on, but here's a short video I took this afternoon downtown as the race came through on the third of five laps.  They were literally close enough to reach out and touch at 300m to go.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wooden Spoon Battle

Choose Your Weapon

If you thought last week's game was unbearable this week's game might be worse.  We've go the Rapids, last place int he Wast, versus the Fire, last place in the East.  Ugly, ugly soccer ahead.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 6:30pm with a watch party at the Southside Bar & Kitchen.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Joseph Greenspan (back); D James Riley (concussion); M Lucas Pittinari (hamstring); F Luis Solignac (hamstring)

SUSPENDED: M Sam Cronin (yellow card accumulation)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Bobby Burling (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Axel Sjoberg (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Lucas Pittinari (3 games left for good behavior reduction)
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Drew Moor; D James Riley; F Kevin Doyle

Chicago has one player out and two more questionable.  Pablo is running out of defensive midfielders so we're going to have to see something different this week.  My guess: 

6 defenders is aon the low side for Pablo recently but its just a guess..

Strategic Consideration: Score a goal, win a game.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  These teams are bad and this will be bad pointless soccer.

Um, Shots Fired?

So if you remember from yesterday there were tweets about our style of play:
Hinchey says the gripe about not playing attacking soccer is very legit and a big problem. the style is in effect throughout academy...
...but with Pablo it has been a struggle to establish it in the senior team.
Pablo still a work in progress, biggest issue according to Hinchey is that the team isn't playing the style of soccer they're striving to. 
this seemed like a big deal to Hinchey, he was really frustrated about it. not sure Pablo can get it done.
Pablo responds by playing all defenders.
i brought this up. Hinchey said the SJ game was especially frustrating. sounds like disconnect between Bravo/Pablo

Well today's article about the Rapids, where injuries are partially blamed for our lack of scoring (HA!), included this quote from Pablo at the end:

Said Mastroeni: “At this point, we’re not in a beauty contest anymore. Only the hungry man will critique a meal. The guy that’s starving will eat anything you give him.”
Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but that sure seems like a shot fired across Hinchey's bow.  Essentially Pablo is saying style doesn't matter, its just a matter of winning.  Generally I agree with him but after 2+ years of his bosses beating the style drum its interesting that Pablo would say that.

I said yesterday that there appears to be a lot of disfunction between Hinchey, Bravo, and Mastroeni.  This only reinforces the feeling.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interesting Live(?) Tweeting Of A Hinchey 1 on 1 Today

I had another post planned for today about the KSEOut movement but an interesting twitter discussion erupted that seemed more relevant.  Season-ticket holder Brian Mercer has a lunchime 1 on 1 with Tim Hinchey and live(?) tweeted it.  There's a lot in there and I'm just going to hit some things that jumped out to me but I encourage you to read it all.  Start with this tweet and work forward.
he also said that while he and Bravo talk with Pablo about tactics, Pablo ultimately chooses lineups and formation. no micromanagement.
This doesn't surprise me at all.  I know there's a segment of Rapids fans who believe Bravo and/or Hinchey are driving some of the decisions but I don't believe that's the case.  I think they went out and found a coach that would play the 4-3-3 they want the team to play but other than that theey've let Pablo and his staff make the decisions.
team sees Watts as future 6, defensive mid that can cover a lot of area and good passing. Definitely not a future CB.
 I've heard this from other sources as well.  Anything but a CB!
Hinchey says the gripe about not playing attacking soccer is very legit and a big problem. the style is in effect throughout academy...
...but with Pablo it has been a struggle to establish it in the senior team.
Then quit selling it!  Its bad enough we play the way we do but its insulting to hear the FO talk about attacking soccer when every fan can see we're not playing that way.
apparently Claudio Lopez doesn't want to be a bench coach but would rather work with Bravo upstairs. not much coaching experience on staff 
The lack of experience is a HUGE problem, and contrary to what was discussed at the Celtic last year where they talked about getting Pablo more support.  nice of him to admit it, but I'd like to hear how they're going to solve it.

I also thought the note that Lopez doesn't want to coach was interesting.  I guess he's not the obvious choice to replace Pablo on an interim basis as I had been suggesting.
other clubs making offers for rapids players, most often asking for Powers, Serna, and Torres. Moor has generated a few offers as well.
Three younger guys we shouldn't trade and the heart and soul of the team right now.  No, no, no, and no to those offers.
Powers has struggled with confidence since missing that PK against RSL. confidence hard to find in midst of poor season.
It would be easier to find confidence if he was actually played at his best position...
also pointed out that there is no chance Kroenke sells the team. "Kroenke never sells anything he buys." so theres that.
Duh, that point was (and will still be) part of my KSEOut post.
Pablo still a work in progress, biggest issue according to Hinchey is that the team isn't playing the style of soccer they're striving to.
this seemed like a big deal to Hinchey, he was really frustrated about it. not sure Pablo can get it done.
A year and a half in and our coach is still "a work in progress".  Hey Tim?  I'm not buying season tickets so that we can be a training camp for a coach.  Pablo clearly can't get it done, so find somebody who can.
Pablo responds by playing all defenders.
i brought this up. Hinchey said the SJ game was especially frustrating. sounds like disconnect between Bravo/Pablo
There seems to be a number of disconnects in the FO right now.
its too bad he could not be this honest in the fan forum. A lot of problems could have been avoided with honest answers
sounded like he wanted to use the forum to show support for Pablo, not undermine him on the spot.
Um, what?  The Fan Forum should have had one purpose only, to convince the fans things were going to get better not prop up a failing coach.  No wonder that was such a farce (and Tim and Paul seemed to be "ducking" questions).
i don't totally buy everythign he said, but he said he's willing to meet with anyone 1:1 for a chat.
Yawn, the infamous 1 on 1 chat.  Many of you will remember that was the offer that was made to me before last season that I turned down.  Its not the only time since then that I had a chance to talk/blog/report on a meeting with a FO rep but each time it felt more like they wanted me as a mouthpiece, not an actual discussion.

At some point Hinchey is going to realize he can't meet with all 6000 season ticket holders 1 on 1 and has to do more than a farcical Fan Forum to get across to us, right?
he talked about twitter, says he doesn't mind crticism, but if it gets personal, vulgar, swearing, then he'll block
So its not ok for people to get personal towards him but he can email a fan this?
However, we are not “killing time” on our coach search nor do you have any clue how to run a professional sports organization and any such complications when hire a head coach.  Therefore, if you value actually learning more, give me call as like I did with SI last week, I’m happy to fully and honestly explain our efforts.  If not, I find your blog completely ridiculous and nothing more than your own personal venting tool. 
Yeah, that's not getting personal at all.  BTW in my opinion I've never gotten personal or been vulgar or had any swearing outside an occasional WTF on this blog.
renewals, after first 20 days, are at 79% already. club revenue doubled in past two seasons. new sponsors, > budgets
*sigh* In other words there's no reason to change what they're doing.
Hinchey said seeing the terraces half full is frustrating, wishes the SG's would grow. says willing to help SG's out however they want
Here's a thought, put a good team on the field!
my fave part of meeting was bringing up a few choice Pablo quotes and Hinchey just shaking his head. speaks for itself.
Well, that says a lot right there.

There's a bunch of tweets I skipped so you should really read them all.  Hats off to Brian for tweeting all this and getting it out there.

Overall I'm not impressed.  There seems to be a lot of dysfunction between Hinchey, Bravo, and Mastroeni but I'm not hearing a lot of plans to solve it.  It appears that at least in these 1 on 1 meetings Hinchey recognizes that the club has serious problems but all we hear publicly is "have faith" or something similar.  At some point Hinchey, as the club President, needs to sell more than happy thoughts and future dreams and start presenting the reality of the situation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

October Scheduling Updates

Two scheduling items were announced today.

The first one was the schedule for the U-23 Olympic Qualifying at the Dick in October.

Tues Oct 6th:
Canada - Cuba
USA - Panama

Wed Oct 7th:
Guatemala/Costa Rica - Haiti
Mexico - Honduras

Tickets on sale a week from Thursday and each night is a separate ticket covering both games.  The American Outlaws will have a presale as well.

Also the Rapids announced that the final home game against Montreal on Oct 10th has been moved forward from 7pm to 4pm.  This is to avoid conflicting with the USA-Mexico Confederations Cup playoff that night.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Worst Team Of The Last Two Years

Umpteenth verse, same as the first.  At the moment I'm pretty sure the Charlotte Independence, not even using the Rapids they have on loan, would beat the Rapids.  This team is fundamentally broken right now.  Since the beginning of thee 2014 season Colorado is averaging .98 points per game, the lowest average in the league.  What changed between 2013 and 2014?  Oh yeah, we spent an offseason in a "coaching search" and signed Pablo 1 week before the season started.  Pablo must go.

Currently the Rapids are on pace to score 29.5 goals this season, and that's not setting the 4 goal outburst in Dallas aside as an outlier.  The worst offensive seasons in Rapids history were 29 goal seasons, but that was in 30 game seasons.  This year we play 34 games.  That's right, we have a legitimate chance of having our lowest goal total ever despite playing 4 more games.  Barring an amazing goal output the next 11 games we're probably going to set a record for lowest goals/game in team history.

On the flip side we have one of the best defenses in team history.  Twice we've given up 32 in 30 games.  Keeping that goals/game ratio means that if we give up 11 or less in the last 11 we'll set a new goals/game against record.  The absolute record of 32 total might be tough, that would mean only 7 goals given up the rest of the way.

Per SportsClubStats the Rapids now have the lowest chance of making the playoffs in the league at 1%.  No, that's not a typo. The Bodmer Line is now at 2.0-2.18 pts/game.

Man of the Match: Dillon Powers.  Came closest to actually doing something other than making up the numbers.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Battle To Decide The Worst Team The Last Two Years

The last placed rider in a bike race is the Lantern Rouge

San Jose and Colorado are currently ties with the lowest pts/game average since the start of the 2014 season.  So the loser of this game will really be the worst team in the league the last two seasons.  So, hey, something to play for!  Game time tomorrow is 9pm MDT and the game is on UniMas!, channel 648 on Comcast HD.  Since Richard and 'Celo won't be doing the TV broadcast they'll be doing the radio call live from the Blake Street Tavern as part of the C38 watch party.

Injury Report:
OUT: D James Riley (concussion); M Lucas Pittinari (hamstring); F Luis Solignac (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (back)

SUSPENDED: D Axel Sjoberg (red card against Columbus)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (3 games left for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari (3 games left for good behavior reduction)
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Bobby Burling; D Drew Moor; D James Riley; F Kevin Doyle

I have not heard an update on Maynor Figueroa and if he has has paperwork yet.  San Jose iss down at least three players to injury or suspension so the teams are at roughly equal footing.  My buess at our XI: 

Obviously this assumes Figueroa is eligible to play.  If not we could see Harrington or Burch in his place.  Otherwise I expect the lineup to be pretty similar to last week, sadly.

Strategic Consideration: Get a lead and then hold onto it.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  Neither of these teams can win anything so a draw seems the obvious choice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fan Forum Wrap-Up

You might remember a similar post from last year and after today's Fan Forum it seemed relevant to update it for anther year, sadly.  The definite feel I got from the forum was one of "We're still working hard and we have a long-term plan so if this year doesn't work out keep having faith in us".  Unfortunately we've heard the same thing for over 18 months and there's no evidence we're making that promised progress.

A few specific reactions to what was said:

  • This was actually something my wife said as she was listening while I was typing.  Tim Hinchey said that teams don't have to spend the most to win and my wife said "No, but they have to work harder then".  This FO doesn't not give off the impression they're working harder to make up for the lack of spending.
  • Paul Bravo using Peyton Manning as an example of a top player Denver was able to get is laughable.  First, the Broncos still haven't won anything yet (Go Hawks!), secondly Manning didn't come here because he loved Red Rocks, he came here because the Broncos are a quality organization that were in position to win (until they ran into the Legion of Boom).  The Rapids are neither of those things right now.
  • Tim claiming that we've shown this season we can beat any team in the league.  The 4 teams (that's all, just 4) teams we've beaten this year are 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 8th in the West.  Meanwhile we've lost to the other 3 playoff teams in the West and 2 of the playoff teams in the East (we haven't played 3 of them).  That doesn't look like we've shown we can beat most good teams.
  • Paul using opposing players as a reason to come to games is borderline insulting.  I don't come to games to root for the opposing team.  I can't imagine that's the selling point the Rapids want out there.
  • The answer to my question sucked, namely because I was directing it at the comments Tim and Paul made at the Celtic last year and they let Pablo answer the question.  Its pretty clear what needs to change isn't just what's happening in the 90 minutes of game time, which is what Pablo spoke to, but also how this organization works.
  • Secondly Pablo's whole "building from the back" strategy clearing isn't working.  Under a 4-5-1 we played very solid in the back, but couldn't score.  We've switched to a 4-3-3 and now we're scoring more, but we can't hold a lead.  Clearly something in the on-field strategy as well in the off-field strategy needs to change.
  • The idea that the playoffs are still a reasonable goal this year is ridiculous.  This team needs to play at almost 2 pts/game to even have a shot and they're barely over 1 point a game.
  • Interesting that Pablo might go to Arsenal this offseason when at the Celtic it was already confirmed, but never happened.
  • Once again, the well-worn refrain of "being really close on big signings" is trotted out.  More on this in a future post soon.
  • Very disappointing to see Paul Bravo downplay the importance of results this season, calling the final season results a small piece of the puzzle in evaluating staff after the season.  I understand that it can't just be about wins and losses but after being tied for the worst team over the last season and a half I'd like to hear more responsibility for those results.
As to not end on a totally negative note there were two things I did like hearing:
  • Tim admitting they dropped the ball not using the transfer window last season. Fairly obvious, but good to actually hear him admit it. It shows that they do recognize it was a major mistake.
  • Sam Cronin saying that he can do better both personally and as captain with acknowledging the fans after every game, not just a win. He mentioned it at least twice as it came up in questioning and it felt to me that he was actually genuine in realizing they weren't doing a good job and he was going to make a real effort to do better the rest of the season.
All in all though, this was largely a replay of the Celtic last season.  Not a shock but there was part of me that was hoping we might hear something more than the same excuses again.

Rough Transcript Of Front Office Town Hall

I'm going to type this on the fly during the Town Hall and post right after its done as a resource for those who couldn't listen.  Further conversation will be saved for tonight.  I'm using the online stream of the event as to not tie up my phone line for an hour.  This is paraphrased so I can keep up.

Well, they're late starting...

Fleming is moderating, introduces Tim Hinchey (TH), Paul Bravo (PB), Pablo Mastroeni (PM), and team captain Sam Cronin (SC).

First question from the advisory board:  "Stumbles on and off the field are more frequent than successes, what's being done to turn it around?"

TH: Variety of different reasons.  Oscar's departure screwed up the last offseason.  "Since then we had a decent start, we did ok" then we dropped the ball on not using the 2014 summer transfer window.  Since then refocused, there's been progress but not good enough, but we have faith we're going in the right way.

Advisory board: "Season tickets are expensive, why buy next year?"

TH: Good question, season tickets are a personal choice.  Depends on your relationship and how you support from a thick and thin basis.  Asking for more patience, asking for continued support.  They're going to continue to invest.  They try to put on best possible experience, hopefully that's a reason to continue to come.

"Why is Cronin captain?"

PM: Drew Moor being out, Pablo wanted continuity.  Sam stepped up in preseason and early part of the season.  Wanted the responsibility.  Didn't know how long Drew would take to get back into the team.  Both Sam and Drew on board.

"If budget expanded for greater recruiting opportunities would it help with attendance, play on the field, etc."

TH: Could be cart before the horse.  Very fortunate with tremendous growth since TH has been here. Season tickets have quadrupled.  With that budget has increased.  They ask every year but they are held to responsible business practices.  Not resigned to being a mid-market team and not winning.  Teams don't have to spend the most to be successful.

"What is the draw of coming to Colorado for new players?"

PB: We need to create own environment for incoming players.  Important that we understand who we are, what we are, what we're about.  Colorado lifestyle is enjoyable.  We have one of the top NFL players in history of the league that wanted to come to Denver.  Build a club that players want to come to.  Not about the big markets, about creating an environment and selling our state, city, and club.

"How do you make it more exciting for kids/family to come to the game?"

TH: Part of that is personal.  We've shown this season at home on the road that we can beat any team in the league.  We need to be more consistent.  We know a big part of ethos is to entertain.  We want to be more attacking, we want to score more goals.  Continuing to work on it.  We've had exciting games this year.  Attendance is up.

SC: Exciting players, Kevin Doyle, Juan Ramirez.  We can beat star teams.  Consistency hasn't been there especially at home.

PB: His son comes to games on regular basis.  Very passionate about the Rapids but also comes to see other big names.  Gerrard, Keane, etc.  Growing up in the Bay Area always wanted to go to SJ games, why he became a soccer player.  Going to games developed his passion for the sport.  Come out, see the game at highest level in this country and some of the best players in the world.

"Last year at the Celtic you talked about what you were going to do different but thee results haven't changed. What faith should we have they'll change next year?"

(Just so readers know, this was my question)

PM: Appreciate you coming out every week, supporting the group.  Things take time.  Great defense,, solid foundation.  We've lacked at finishing, no surprise.  Work on it week in and week out.  We've shown glimpses but not consistent enough.  building from the back, defending higher up the field, is ideal.  Work in progress.

"Return of Autograph Alley?"

TH: Don't want to force it, want players to do it naturally.  Thinks we;ve been good from an accessibility perspective in community but can do better to thank fans for support, more important when they don't get results they want.  Will work on it.

SC: Love to thank the fans after a good win, frustrations boil over after the loss and don't have perspective to think about thanking fans.  Question is good and as players they'll do a better job thanking everyone.

"For Pablo, realistic goals for this year and next year, what you consider a success?"

PM: Currently where we stand is not where we want to be.  Obviously causes a lot of reflection.  Fall short in NY and LA but win in Seattle and Dallas.  What gets him is being so close and not getting a result.  Last tow games were frustrating to not get a result.  Playoffs are realistic.  One game at a time now.  Next year is all about a good start, taking everything we've learned and getting off on teh right foot.  Preseason is important to get off on the right foot.  Good group that's committed.  This year making the playoffs is still the goal.  Leave it all on the field.

"Anything done to get Pablo more experience?"

PB: focus is how do we do things to make Pablo successful?  Brought in Lopez and Smith.  Professional help and guidance abroad last offseason, will continue this offseason.  Trips to Spain and England, maybe Arsenal.

"Next couple of years of player development?  Youth versus veterans going forward?"

PB: Important piece.  Guiding principle of the club, building from within plus using the college draft.  Done a fairly good job of that.  No shift away from youth, that will never change.  It will always be a big part of what the club is doing.  Fans have a very straight plan going forward but reality there's peaks and valleys in every young player's development.  Continue to evaluate every young player going forward.  Focus hasn't changed, things aren't as straight forward as players and fans would like.

"2010 won championship, last Denver team to do so, so fans need perspective but there does seem to be a missing element.  Pablo, Sam, what do you think that is?"

PM: We're crating a lot of chances but not finishing.  Need to be clear, more precise.  Take shots, take more risks,  We're missing the finishing.  Take the responsibility to go one on one, take the shot.  Not sharp enough this year.  The big picture is defense starts the offense.

SC; Agree with Pablo, struggled in the final 3rd.  Getting more players in more advanced positions.  As we continue to work and players familiarize with the roles goals more prevalent and we can hold on to leads.

"From a fan's perspective pretty demoralizing to see other MLS teams signing big names but Rapids never in the conversation. What are we missing out on by not going down that path?"

TH: We have been in the mix, but we don't advertise.  We've lost out due to MLS rules at times.  Conversations about them do go on.  Constant effort.  Sometimes its about timing.  Uses Doyle as an example of success.

PB: We have been close on a number of occasions.  We continue to try.  Not too far away from a little more star power.  We feel we have a great group of guys though.  "No one person is bigger than the club", that is one thing that will always set us apart.  Spread the love (salary) out more evenly than other clubs.

"C38 in the South Stands, any feedback?"

TH: Up to C38, we don't want to impose our will on them.

SC: Love the fan support, this is one of the better venues for fan support in the league.  hope to improve the product on the field.

"Ownership issue?  Lowest salary in league [Jason: Not true, we're 13th].  Is the owner committed to the team?"

TH: In my opinion ownership is committed.  Take your point about star players but the owner is committed to increasing our budget, facilities, youth spending, etc.  Spent to get the ASG.  Now in the DP market but yes, not buying Kaka or David Villa.  All take time.  Not things that happen overnight.  Ownership is investing in the club and marketplace.  USL affiliation investment.  Last thing we need to do, which is the most important thing, is get results on Saturday nights.  Investments have and will continue to go up every single year.

"More info on player availability suggestion.  For Pablo, why 3 d-mids?"

PM: Focus on build up, pivoting in midfield.  Opponents played a high line on Saturday which forced over the top ball.  With 3 free forwards you need  more structure in midfield thus more defensive.  But yes, they are more two-way mids than attacking mids but it comes down to the opponent and the system, making sure you're more secure behind the front free.  Evaluating all week to determine midfield makeup.  No decisions made on Saturdays are rogue, he discusses them all with technical staff.

"If making playoffs this year is the goal, does failing to make the playoffs result in changes to Front Office and coaching staff?"

PB: Set out goals every year, making the playoffs is the goal.  Allows us to go after trophies and justifies what we do during the season but its s small piece of the evaluation.  We're trying to build the club, build a model, that will sustain success over time.  Same for everyone from him to the kit guy.  If we don't make the playoffs this year everything will be evaluated at the end of the season but that's just a small piece of what we're evaluation.  Larger piece is progress we're making as a club step-by-step to get to a place where we make the playoffs on a regular basis.

"What young player are we building around to be face of the franchise?"

PB: Number of young players that could grow into that role.  Dillon Powers is the obvious choice.  consistency important for Powers.  Another player is Dillon Serna, continues to make strides.  Last one would be Juan Ramirez.  Tremendous upside.  not just one young player but a number that could grow into that role.  Developing young players important to the club.  Will help us win trophies.

"Question about recent signing, why defense over an attacking mid like Jose Mari?"

PB: Thought process in this window was where we could improve overall.  We know goals haven't been flying in but we brought in Solignac, trying to find minutes for Torres, Ramirez, Serna, Powers, etc.  We felt that if there was a player out there that could help us at tick all the boxes we would go after them but unless we felt it was a difference-maker we were going to look in other areas.  We felt we needed more experience along the back line.  Bringing in Maynor who;s played in 2 WCs and 3 GCs gives us that experience.  He'll attack out of the wingback.  Bringing in Sean was to strengthen the center back position with O'Neill leaving.

"Do the players work with each other and play together, during games they look like a collection of individuals.  do they fight for each other?"

PM: Group has great spirit and cohesiveness.  They rain together every morning, team lunches together every day, everyone is on board and fights extremely hard every day.

SC: Cool, diverse, environment in the locker room mixing European and South American player.  Everyone gets along, not worried about that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

That's It, They've Sapped My Will To Do This

I can't do a regular game recap this week, its just not in me.  A team that starts 4 CB's, a LB, and 2 defensive/holding mids and can't hold a 1 goal lead in the second half is a team that is just plain broken.  There's really not more you can say.  I twas almost understandable last week when you're facing Keane, Gerrard, Zardes, etc.  Its not acceptable when the only dangerous player is Kamara, you still can't mark him, and he gets 2 goals and a couple of crossbars.  Then afterwards the head coach claims we did "just what we wanted" against him.  Either this leadership is completely clueless or they think we are and they can make ridiculous statements like that and we won't notice.

Per SportsClubStats the Rapids now have the lowest chance of making the playoffs in the league, with a Bodmer Line of 1.83-1.91 pts/game.

Man of the Match: no idea.  I'm taking votes from you guys reading this,  Let me know who you think should be MotM in the comments.

Friday, August 7, 2015

No More YMCA?

What happened to the Village People?

The Crew make their first trip to the Dick in with their new logo tomorrow night.  They're in almost as bad a shape as this one so it may e competitive but bad soccer we see.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm so tailgating, featuring meatball subs, is at 4pm.  'Celo and Fleming have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D James Riley (concussion); M Lucas Pittinari (hamstring); F Luis Solignac (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (back)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari (3 games left for good behavior reduction)
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Bobby Burling; D Drew Moor; D James Riley; D Axel Sjoberg; D Jared Watts

D Maynor Figueroa (waiting on paperwork)

Columbus lists Kamara as questionable and has two players suspended due to yellow card accumulation.  I really have no idea what to expect for a starting XI tomorrow but here's my guess:

But really I have no idea.  One new defender in, one defender out due to injury, that's enough of an excuse for Pablo to really do anything.

Strategic Consideration: Get an early lead so the Crew has to chase the game.  Coming from behind hasn't really been our thing.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  Hard to predict a win given how we played last week but the Crew aren't a good team, we should at least be able to get a draw.

After Nothing Yesterday A Busy Day Today

Ok, lots going on today.  I'll break down what we did then I'll give my opinion on the moves.

  • Shane O'Neill was sold to Cypriot side Apollon Limassol
  • Sean St. Ledger was signed after having been cut by Orlando City last week
  • Maynor Figueroa was signed with Target Allocation Money (TAM), last with Hull City
  • Ben Newnam was cut
  • Dominique Badji's loan to Charlotte was made a full season loan with no option to recall
  • Allocation money was traded to KC in exchange for an international spot for the rest of the season
This leaves the team with 29 signed players and 10 internationals against an allowed total of 28 and 9.  We get around this because both Badji's and Berner's loans don't have recall options so that gets us down to 27 of 28 roster spots filled and 9 of 9 internationals.

Some brief information about our two new players:
  • Maynor Figueroa, 32 year old Honduran CB/LB.  Current member of the Honduran National Team playing in all of their Gold Cup games last month.  Played just 14 times for Wigan and Hull City in the 2014-15 season. 
  • Sean St.Ledger, 30 year old Irish CB.  Regular started for Orlando City this season before he was dismissed for a "serious breach of club policy", rumored to be getting into a bar fight in NYC after missing the team plane.  Prior to Orlando he played 10 times in 2013-14 for Leicester City and Millwall.
St. Ledger was making about 150K with Orlando and I bet we took on a similar contract.  The bigger hit is with Figueroa.  As announced last month the league has made TAM available to sign certain players.  From the details:
Similar to general Allocation Money, these funds may be be used to sign new or re-sign existing players. Unlike general Allocation Money, however, Targeted Allocation Money can only be used for players earning more than the maximum salary budget charge, which in 2015 is $436,250.
So we know Figueroa is on at least about 450K.  Depending on what his salary is and how much TAM we used (each team gets $100K/year for the next 5 years and can borrow ahead) he may or may not be a Designated Player.  Safe bet though that he's hitting our cap for 300-450K.

Shane didn't count against the cap as a Homegrown Player, but we get his 75K back.  Newnam was on the supplemental roster and didn't count against the cap but we also get his 60K back.

So the final result of all of this:

  • Going out: O'Neill, Newnam, Badji (for the rest of the season), allocation money, TAM
  • Coming in: Figueroa, St Ledger, international spot, O'Neill's transfer fee (some of which converts into allocation money)
From a roster perspective that's a 21 and 24 year old CB going out and a 30 year old CB and a 32 year old CB/LB coming in.

Ok, so that's all the facts, now my opinion.

W.T.F.  The second best defense in the league just got 17 years older by taking on a very expensive player and a guy cut from the 3rd wort defense in the league for breaking team rules.  Oh, and we gave up allocation money and the new Targeted Allocation Money to do it.

The Rapids problem isn't defense.  Its scoring goals!  How does this help with that?  Using our last DP spot (probably) on a 32 year old CB doesn't really leave us many options going forward.  Figueroa is either the second or third highest paid player (Doyle, Sarvas) and St Ledger is the 9th so presumably these aren't depth signings.  So what is our back line going to look like?  Moor, St Ledger, Figueroa, and Sjoberg/Burling/Watts/Greenspan?  I know I've been complaining about our back line but we have the pieces to fix it without investing in more.  Now of the 27 players available for selection 10 of them are defenders while we only have 1 true forward (Doyle).  Last season the Front Office talked about the youth movement.  Well right now our starting lineup is looking like an old-timer's game

In a vacuum these players, particularly Figueroa, are probably good pickups but they aren't anything close to what this team needed.   We need to figure out how to win games 2-1, not how to draw games 0-0.

Oh, and as a follow on note to yesterday's post I don't think any of these moves other than maybe the allocation money for international spot trade required the MLS transfer window to be opened.  These moves could have been made up until the roster freeze deadline since everyone was out of contract except for O'Neill which had to be completed before the Cypriot league's window closed.

Roster Moves Finally

More detail later tonight:

Rapids transfer Shane O'Neill to Apollon Limassol in Cyprus, expected that his final landing spot will be in Belgium:

Rapids sign Sean St.Ledger

Thursday, August 6, 2015

So...That Whole Transfer Window Thing...

At 3pm Denver time the transfer and trade window closed.  The Rapids moves in this window are listed below.

Did anyone in Commerce City know the window was open?  Do they know the summer window exists?  I ask because here's our list of moves in last year's mid-season transfer window.

Well, at least we're consistent.  This team is an tie with San Jose for the worst team in the league since the start of the 2014 season and in two of the three transfer windows since last season started we've done exactly nothing.

Its very obvious that the Rapids Front Office cares exactly 0 about results, despite their protests to the contrary.  If they actually cared they would have done, you know, anything to improve but they did nothing.

Technically Colorado could be working on a deal still, all that had to happen by 3pm was the submitting of the ITC request to FIFA.  They could work out the last details of a deal still and announce it in the coming days.  In reality though, with essentially no rumors out there, I'm assuming the Rapids are doing nothing.

This year, under the new CBA, the trade window also closed at 3pm.  No intraleague trades can happen until after the season now.  The only way to change the roster between now and the roster freeze deadline on Sept. 15th is to sign out-of-contract players.

Oh, and one final depressing note:

2014 through 21 games: 30 points
2015 through 21 games: 24 points

We were actually a better team last year at this point of the season than we are this year.

We've got 6 games to earn more than 6 points to pass last year's team

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

News Update 8/5/15

A couple of interesting news updates today.

First, Bravo discussed possible upcoming roster moves with  He says O'Neill is still on the roster and Roger Johnson isn't really on trail, more they're just taking a look.  nothing else on any possible newcomers.  The window for adding players closes tomorrow so if they're going to do anything (and they need to do something) they have about 24 hours to do it.  The windows in most European countries go until the end of the month so if the rumors of O'Neill going to Cyprus or Belgium are accurate they  have some more time to announce it.

Now lets talk about what Bravo said about O'Neill's lack of playing time:
“We’ve chosen to give Shane some down time to recharge his battery,” Bravo said. “Over the last 18 months, he’s had a lot of soccer.  Despite the fact that he’s not played with us on a regular basis, he’s still played as many games, if not more with international call-ups, with Open Cup, with league and he had an early start to preseason. With a young man like that, we have to continue to monitor his progress both mentally and physically.”
What?!?!  That makes no sense.  I added up O'Neill's playing time since the start of the season.  U-23s, league, USOC, and Homegrown Game play add up to 1168 minutes in 14 matches.  For comparison the 9 years older Bobby Burling (30) has played 1145 minutes in 13 league matches.  How does a guy only 21 years old need "recharging" but a 30 year old with the same amount of minutes in the last 5 months can start every game?  Yes, Bravo said "over the last 18 months" but over the last 5 minutes Shane is averaging 50 minutes of competitive play a week.  Somehow I think he's recharged enough even if the 12 months prior to that was tough for him.

If Pablo has decided that O'Neill isn't in his plans fine (well not fine, but that's a debate for another time).  If O'Neill is in the process of being sold and the team doesn't want to risk injury, fine.  If Pablo thinks O'Neill isn't the best starter, fine (again not really but another conversation).  But don't insult the fans by saying he needs "recharging".  Either O'Neill has developed a serious fatigue issue (unlikely) or Bravo is trying to cover for something else going on.  If you can't or won't talk about what's going on then just deny the transfer rumor and move on, don't make up something so obviously transparent.

Second, and along these lines, the Rapids have announced another fan forum.  Well "fan forum" is probably too generous.  This is a one hour teleconference held in the middle of the work day for anyone who can call in.  How questions will be submitted is unclear but I can't imagine they'll just have an open mic, I'm sure they'll have to be submitted ahead of time.

So what we've probably got is a phone call in the  middle of a work day with pre-selected questions where Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo, and Pablo Mastroeni can respond in a completely controlled environment without having to worry about getting into discussions about awkward things like how bad the team has been in the last 12 months and the disappearance of Shane O'Neill.  This for the first real response from the FO in 2015 to the disaster of a season we've been having.  I'm sure the timing has nothing to do with the fact that season ticket renewal information is about to go out.

If it works out I'll try to call in and take notes for posting here next Tuesday night, though I'm not expecting anything of note.  Get back to me when they hold a real open fan forum, or at least repeat the dog and pony show at the Celtic last October.

Last, one bit of good news (for me at least) is that I found these at the Rapids game on Saturday:

They go into my collection of (now) 7 OyoSports figures:
  • University of Washington end zone set including
    • QB Keith Price
    • RB Chris Polk
    • WR Jermaine Kearse
  • Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell
  • 2015 MLS All-Star Game Drew Moor
  • Colorado Rapids Drew Moor
  • Colorado Rapids Clint Irwin
They're $13 each (C38 season ticket holder discount did apply though) and the team store had all 7 players plus Edson and the Rapids fan figures.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Umpteenth Verse, Same As The First

20-30 minutes of great play, 60-70 minutes of the same dreck we've seen all season, and a horrible, horrible outing by James Riley led to an expected loss against an almost full strength Galaxy Saturday night.  After a nice July August looks like every other month we've seen in the last year.

General impressions:
  • The Rapids looked good in the first 20 minutes and got a deserved goal from Sarvas.  After that though they seemed to think they had done enough and stopped playing as a team.
  • I was surprised by how much Sarvas celebrated scoring against his old team.
  • Colorado probably should have had a PK int he first half.  There were two questionable plays in the box that went uncalled.
  • The officiating in general sucked, but that's not why we lost.
  • Pablo got outcoached at halftime AGAIN.  It was pretty clear the halftime adjustment from Bruce Arena was to attack our right side and they did for two easy goals.
  • Goal 1, Riley is on Lletget on the sideline.  Sarvas drifts over and iley drops off.  Lletget sends it to Juninho and continues down the sideline.  Sarvas kind of slowly slides over to Juninho but not fast enough for Riley who steps up to take him.  As soon as that happens Juninho sends it behind Riley to the unmarked Lletget who beats a stranded Irwin.
  • Goal 2, Gerrard just works Riley over and gets a good shot off that Irwin saves but the rebound falls right to Gordon who slipped away from Moor and was held onside by Watts.
  • Goal 3, Cronin dumps an easy throw-in back to Riley, who dilly-dally's on the ball and is put under pressure by Keane.  Riley coughs the ball up and then its a jailbreak as the rest of the team was forward waiting for Riley to send in the ball looking for the tying goal.  Riley falls back, falls back, falls back some more and by this time Keane has been joined by Gerrard and Buddle.  Easy 3 on 2 and Keane finds the back of the net.
  • So yeah, the Galaxy saw James Riley was the weak point and abused him.  Pablo did nothing to counter and we lost.
  • Pablo's one tactical move was immediately after LA scored teh first time he brought Powers off and put LaBrocca on.  Not sure what going more defensive at that point was going to get us.  I think Pablo had sent the sub in before the goal and failed to pull it back when the game situation changed.
  • Other than that the two subs were to replace our wingers with fresher wingers.  Not surprisingly that didn't help.
  • Other than Irwin the only other player I really thought played decently was Doyle.  Clearly the top of the 4-3-3 is the right place to play him.
  • The Bodmer line now sits between 1.69 and 1.77 pts/game
Man of the Match: Clint Irwin.  Not to blame for any of the 3 goals and made some big saves.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Rumors: O'Neill Out, New Striker In

Game recap coming sometime in the next 48 hours but two rumors floating around the Dick last night.

First, its all but confirmed that Shane O'Neill was sold this week.  multiple tweets from friends of his and other connected sources have reported it.  It appears that Cyprus' Apollon Limassol is the most likely destination but Cyprus' APOEL and Denmark have also been part of the rumors.  APOEL is the big fish of football in Cyprus, regularly playing in the Champions League.  Apollon Limassol is one of the better teams, finishing high enough to be in the Europa League 4 of the last 6 seasons.

This is hardly a shock though it is disappointing.  O'Neill was being wasted on our bench and regardless of the reason we should have found a way to get the 3rd best player from the Toulon Tournament more playing time this season.  At least we'll make some money on the transaction and he won't leave for nothing.  We don't need to replace him as a CB right away, but it will be hard to replace the benefits we got from him as a Homegrown Player.

The other rumor is that the Rapids have signed an unnamed striker that hasn't been announced due to visa issues.  Yeah, like we haven't heard that one before.  This might be the rumored "big" move from a couple of weeks ago but you have to wonder how big of a move it can be at a position where Doyle, Solignac, Torres, Sanchez, and Eloundou are already fighting for playing time.  Also if the player has visa issues that means he's an international and we don't have an open international spot open.  We don't even have an open roster spot but O'Neill leaving would solve that.  We could open up an international (and roster) spot by removing the recall option on Badji's loan to Charlotte and leaving him there for the rest of the season.

Whatever occurs with either of these rumors it has to happen by Thursday as that's when the transfer window closes.