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.