Monday, September 28, 2015

Sanchez And The Scrubs

Round 2 of my new format, but somehow I'm finding last week hard to top.  Let's see what I can come up with.

3 minutes in Miranda scores

8' Sanchez scores
That's Sanchez when he was with Toluca

 24' Barnes scores

44' Sanchez scores again, originally credited as an own goal

2 minutes after half Davis scores

Well this game was easy to summarize

Close Sir Elton, more like Sanchez and the Scrubs!

Next week the Rocky Mountain Cup:

Man of the Match: Vicente Sanchez.  Easiest choice of the season.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rapids Can't Be Eliminated This Week


Win or lose the Rapids will technically still be alive after this weekend.  Of course realistically we've been eliminated since the end of May.  Colorado is back in Houston tomorrow night for their first  of their last five game.  Game time tomorrow is 6:30pm and Fleming and 'Celo will have the call on altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Michael Harrington; D Axel Sjoberg; F Dominique Badji; F Keven Doyle

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley (3 games for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari

Houston has 5 players injured and one suspended.  We're missing a couple of key players (Sjoberg and Doyle) which means this game probably isn't going to be much of an improvement on what we've seen recently.  My guess at the XI: 

But I'm probably being optimistic.

Strategic Consideration: Just try to be entertaining

Prediction: 2-0 loss.  I don't see a lot of scoring chances lately and even less with Doyle out.  So I expect to come away pretty disappointed from this one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Updated Player Salaries and National Team Callups

The final set of player salaries were released today:

Alvarez Carlos 70,000.00 70,000.00
Badji Dominique 50,000.00 50,000.00
Berner John 60,000.00 60,000.00
Burch Marc 110,000.00 110,000.00
Burling Bobby  132,500.00 140,000.00
Calvert Caleb 65,000.00 72,500.00
Cronin Sam  202,500.00 200,000.00
Doyle Kevin 1,125,000.00 1,170,000.00
Eloundou Charles 60,000.00 65,000.00
Figueroa Maynor 99,996.00 99,996.00
Greenspan Joseph 50,000.04 50,000.04
Hairston Marlon  80,000.00 103,000.00
Harrington M  130,000.00 130,000.00
Irwin Clint  85,000.00 97,000.00
LaBrocca Nick 160,000.00 180,000.00
MacMath Zac  130,000.00 130,000.00
Moor Drew 258,500.00 270,500.00
Pittinari Lucas  190,000.00 210,000.00
Powers Dillon  245,000.00 275,000.00
Ramirez Juan  75,000.00 75,000.00
Riley James  77,500.00 83,750.00
Sanchez Vicente 210,000.00 286,666.67
Sarvas Marcelo  360,000.00 425,000.00
Serna Dillon 60,000.00 73,000.00
Sjoberg Axel  60,000.00 75,000.00
Solignac Luis  65,004.00 65,004.00
St. Ledger Sean  124,992.00 147,492.00
Torres Gabriel 262,000.00 274,500.00
Watts Jared  60,000.00 60,000.00

The first number is the base salary, the second is the 2015 guaranteed compensation.  The salary cap number is usually somewhere in between.  The two new names are Figueroa at $100K, which is a steal, and St. Ledger at $147,500 which is no surprise since we picked up his OCSC contract.

Also in the last few days a number of Rapids have been called up for their National Teams

Dillon Serna will be part of the U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying squad.  He may not be available in Houston on Saturday I'm not sure, but after that he'll miss everything through at least the FSL game on October 4th and most  likely through the home finale on Oct 10th.  So likely the last time to see Serna at home this season is when the 3rd group game of the qualifying tournament is played at the Dick on Oct. 6th.

Kevin Doyle is on the provisional list of 40 players for Ireland's Euro qualifiers in October.  The team is scheduled to gather in Ireland on October 4th.  Hopefully if Doyle is on the final roaster he, Irish manager Martin O'Neill, and the Rapids can work something out where Doyle can stay through the critical Rocky Mountain Cup match on the 4th and them immediately fly to Ireland to join the team.  If called Doyle would then rejoin the team for the final two road games in KC and Portland.

Gabriel Torres has been called up for Panama's friendlies against Trinidad & Tobaga and Mexico next month.  Again we'll have to see when the team gets together but their first game is October 8th so once again hopefully he can stay through the rivalry match on the 4th.  He'll also rejoin the team for the final two matches of the season.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Well, That Happened.

Going to do something a little different today since I'm bored with this team.

Friday's strategic consideration:
Giovinco, Giovinco, Giovinco.  Hands down the best player TFC has and one of the best goal scorers in MLS right now.

14' Giovinco scores

18' Giovinco scores again

 38' Giovinco gets an assist

40' Dillon Powers scores

The whole second half

But hey, we still have a shot at the playoffs!

Man of the Match: Dillon Powers.  Because I already put too much effort into this post so I'm taking the easy way out.

So, thoughts on the new format? ;)

Friday, September 18, 2015

One Last Canadian Trip

If only the current Rapids were that good

The Rapids made their final trip across the border for 2015 today, heading to the location of their greatest ever triumph on Toronto.  The odd thing about tomorrow's game is the time, noon MDT.  For whatever reason Toronto plays early afternoon games at home.  The schedule works well for me as the game will finish before Washington's game against Utah State kicks off.  Altitude will have the coverage with Fleming and Balboa tomorrow.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Axel Sjoberg; F Luis Solignac (hamstring)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley (3 games for good behavior reduction); D Jared Watts
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Marc Burch; M Sam Cronin; M Lucas Pittinari; F Kevin Doyle

Toronto has 5 players doubtful or worse and a player suspended, so we're in better shape there.  However Toronto is generally a better team than us, though it appears their annual  swoon has hit.  My starting XI guess: 

Standard caveats apply about which one of our stack of d-mids Pablo might pick.

Strategic Consideration: Giovinco, Giovinco, Giovinco.  Hands down the best player TFC has and one of the best goal scorers in MLS right now.

Prediction: 1-0 loss.  Long road trip, a place we've only beaten TFC once at (we've one in Toronto twice, obviously ;) ), and an offense that seems to have lost whatever spark it may have had.  There's just too much stacked against us to predict anything but a loss.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Just Two More Home Games To Go

I heard a lot of diehards saying the title of this post Saturday night.  Its been a long season and the DC game didn't make it much better.  Another attempt to park the bus for far too long failed badly and Pablo again failed to adapt on the fly.  Specifically his decision not to undo his 3rd sub after DC scored, instead pulling Doyle off for Labrocca in a game that multiple people in the organization (Fleming, Smith, Hinchey) identified as a must win should be one more nail in his coffin.

Not that we had any playoff hopes but after this game our chances are all but officially over.  We've got a 2.4% chance to make the playoffs according to SportsClubStats and we need somewhere between 12 and 14 points out of our last 18, only two of which are at home.  The Bodmer Line is now at 2.0 to 2.33 pts/game.  We could be officially eliminated before we play our next home game I think.

Man of the Match: Bobby Burling.  In a game where nobody really stood out and nobody played that poorly (except St. Ledger getting run over by his mark on the DC goal) I took the easy way out and picked the goal scorer.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Eagle On Eagle Violence Is Never Pretty

Edson vs. Talon,  who will win?

After that ugliness on Wednesday night its a quick turn-around with DC coming into town tomorrow night.  United is traditionally pretty bad at altitude (when the Rapids take the game seriously) so we have a chance but we have to have a better lineup than we did in Vancouver.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  Altitude has the game with Fleming and Balboa for those who can't make it.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Axel Sjoberg; F Dominique Badji; F Luis Solignac (hamstring)

ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D James Riley (3 games for good behavior reduction; D Jared Watts; M Lucas Pittinari (1 game left for good behavior reduction)
TWO YELLOWS FROM SUSPENSION: D Marc Burch; M Sam Cronin; F Kevin Doyle

International Absences:
U.S. U-23: M Dillon Serna

DC has 2 players out and 2 players questionable, so the teams are at about equal strength.  My guess at the XI: 

Of course Pittinari or LaBrocca could go instead of Sarvas or Cronin.  I think the rest of the lineup is a pretty solid guess.

Strategic Consideration: Return to the mentality of the KC game.  In that game we actually had some attacking flow and some chances, not a couple of guys stranded up front.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Doyle.  I think we can beat DC but I can't predict that we will.  Anything but a win means that we'll essentially be mathematically eliminated in Toronto next week as if we can't beat DC at home we're not going to beat TFC on the road.

Rapids Regress Ridiculously

This was going to be bad once you saw that Pablo had started 4 defenders and 4 defensive midfielders, leaving just Ramirez on the wing and Torres up front to attack.  Shockingly that didn't work.  Doyle came in after the break and came closest to scoring but it wasn't that dangerous.  Meanwhile on defense playing the likes of Marc Burch and James Riley showed us how much we gained from signing Figueroa and moving Moor to RB.

General Impressions:
  • How Riley is starting over Hairston is beyond me.  His ball watching in the first minute almost got him red carded and his decision to keep the ball in play by heading it back towards the crowd was asinine.
  • Not that Marc Burch did much better on the other side.  While not making as many dumb moves he could have had 3 yellow cards easily instead of the 1 he did have.
  • Neither Ramirez or Torres played well, but its hard to fault them.  Vancouver figured out very early on that if they double-teamed those two the Rapids had no chance to score.
  • Powers and Sanchez on the bench to start, really?  I know Sanchez doesn't like turf but the team was short-handed.
  • Hard to hear Tim Hinchey and Paul Bravo talking about attacking, exciting soccer and then see a starting XI with 9 defensive players.
  • After a great game against KC and some glimmer that we've turned some corner the old Pablo defensive mentality was back.
  • Bodmer Line is now between 1.86 and 2.14 pts./game
Man of the Match: Kevin Doyle.  I'm not sure anyone deserves the honor but credit to Doyle for getting the dangerous chance and particularly for getting from Dublin to Vancouver and ready to play after Monday's nights Ireland game.  A lot of players would have just gone to Denver to be ready for Saturday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Undermanned Rapids Head North Of The Border

Whitecaps - Rapids, wettest fixture in the league

After the international break the Rapids are off for international travel to British Columbia.  Over the last two years the Rapids are 4-0-0 against the Whitecaps in Colorado but 0-0-1 in Vancouver.  Both teams will be weakened by international callups and suspensions.  Game time tomorrow is 8pm and 'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Injury Report:
OUT: D Jared Watts; F Luis Solignac (hamstring)

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

International Absences:
Honduras: D Maynor Figueroa
Ireland: F Kevin Doyle
U.S. U-23: M Dillon Serna

Vancouver is down 8 players between injuries, suspension, and international callups.  This is really going to be a battle of the B teams.  My guess at ours: 

I know Sanchez doesn't usually play on turf but with the number of other missing players I'm hoping he can go.

Strategic Consideration: Keep the momentum from the KC game going.  It will be difficult with our missing players but stay aggressive, push the attack, and keep rolling.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Powers.  This will probably be some rough soccer with the missing players.  Turf and travel will favor Vancouver but the Rapids defense should be up to the task to hold them to a goal.  The same will go in reverse though.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

KSEOut - A Bit Misguided

Its not secret to regular readers that I'm fed up with the Front Office and have been for a couple a few many years.  I'm not alone and a group of fans who can't take it anymore have banded together to start the KSEOut movement.

The problem I have is that they're a bit misguided.  Here's one of their goals from their website (and the title for their whole movement:
We just want KSE to put the Rapids up for sale.
To me, this is a fool's errand and not something they should be attaching "success" of their movement to.  Quoting their Burgundy Wave interview when they were asked what "success" would be:
Very simply, when KSE puts the team up for the sale & Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo & Pablo Mastroeni all move on.
Quite simply, this is never going to happen.  When was the last time an American sports owner sold a team due to just fan pressure?  I can think of none.  Team sales come when the owner gets bored, the owner needs money, or the owner does something so heinous that the other owners in the league step in and say "You have to go" (think Donald Sterling, Marge Schott, or Jorge Vergara).

Their current "media strategy" isn't helping.  Right now it feels like "Lets throw every bad thing we can think of about the Rapids at the wall and see what sticks".  Looking at some of their tweets:
By 2010, it was clear stadiums should not be in the suburbs. Not that KSE was with the program.
As this blog has covered on multiple occasions, the location is not the significant issue with the Rapids attendance and the "once size fits all" stadium ideas that some MLS fans have don't actually work.
We accept that some of the 1,524 ‘empty’ seats are sold as single game tickets. But they are counted as 100% sold in the attendance figures.
One of dozens of tweets about the attendance numbers.   A. Who cares?  Does it really matter what number the Rapids report? and B. This is pretty standard practice in sports attendance reporting for all the major leagues.
What could we do to indicate to TransAmerica our displeasure? Boycott not really an option as most fans don’t buy off them directly.
I get the general idea with this one, use the sponsors to bring pressure on KSE, but I don't see how it works.  I think Transamerica, O'Dells, etc. are more likely to just walk away from the sponsorship than actually put any pressure on KSE.  That just leaves the team in worse shape.

Oh, and if you're going to represent yourself as a group of die-hard fans that want change, you've got to get the basic facts right:
Well done to the team yesterday. 6 wins out of last 8 is the sort of records we want to see at DSG Park.
Its 6 wins in 9, not 8.

What their focus should be is getting massive changes to the Front Office and showing KSE what KSE could gain by putting more investment (not just money but interest) into the team.  We had a perfect example last weekend.  Sporting KC is what the Rapids should be modeling themselves on.  To the credit of KSEOut, they recognize this too (again from Twitter):
Sporting KC has a big football team, baseball team & plays in a stadium located out of town. What’s the difference? Engaged ownership.
This is absolutely correct.  Look at the payoff for SKC.  Their ticket prices are almost exactly the same as ours yet they're averaging almost 25% more fans per game than we are.  Think KSE would like that kind of increase in ticket sales?  Not to mention that once demand outstrips capacity then the ticket prices can start to be increased.

The interesting thing is that Sporting is doing this without making big money player splashes.  They don't have a million dollar salary on the books.  They aren't spending big money off the field.  What they are doing is putting competent people in charge of soccer operations, working with their fans, and making a name for themselves in KC.  They do have the advantage of not competing against a NBA and NHL team, but its not like the Rapids have much competition from those sports since their seasons are opposite each other and they're also owned by KSE.  Yes, there's still limited sporting funds to spread around 5 pro teams, but the Denver-Boulder metro area is about 50% larger than the KC metro area.

What this movement should be aiming for isn't KSEOut, its KSEInvest IMO.  That means replacing the current Front Office (I could actually see keeping Hinchey in a strict financial-only capacity but no influence on soccer or PR decisions) with competent executives that can both watch the bottom line and climb the table at the same time.  It means having metrics for the executives that are more than how little can you spend and still make money.  And it means not treating the fans as the enemy as often as you treat them as the customer.

One other note to KSEOut.  Stop the anonymity.  A week or so ago when I mentioned I was going to write an article about the movement I was contacted by them and asked not to reveal any names for fear of retaliation from the FO.  The email to me didn't include a name (it just came from a KSEOut address) either.  I know one person in the movement and I will not reveal their name here but really, its not getting you guys anything.  I've been very open about my issues with the Front Office and outside of a couple of emails and my name being brought up in some meetings (I've been told) there's been no retaliation.  The Rapids may not like you, but even they aren't going to do something that would blow up in their face unless you provoke them by doing something bigger than complaining.  Also the implicit threat about critiquing any blog entry I make?  Unnecessary.  I'm always open to critiques.