Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rapids Go Into Break On A Streak

A draw that felt like a loss.  Shows up how far we've come in a short time.  For the last couple of years most draws felt like wins.  Despite that Colorado goes into the Copa break on a 9 game undefeated streak, tying a team record.  They also sit on top of the league in both total points (though they could be passed by Dallas on Wednesday but we would have 2 games in hand) and points per game (it would take any team at least 3 straight wins to catch us in that stat).

General Impressions:
  • Interesting note on that team-tying undefeated streak.  Pablo now owns the longest winless streak in team history and the longest undefeated streak (tied).  The prior coaches to hold those records were/are Fernando Clavijo.
  • The style of play on Saturday was very reminiscent of 2015.  Lots of cycling the ball around, resetting it back to the defense, etc.  Also lots of chances created with nobody taking a shot. It lends some credence to the belief that our improvement this year is due to better talent over better coaching as only 3 new 2016 players played Saturday night (MacMath, Williams, Azira).
  •  Philly's goal was only the 2nd given up by MacMath this month, which is a huge improvement in his play from March/April.  Its made him a finalist for Player of the Month.
  • Solignac's goal was correctly called offside, though Solignac was not offside.  The call was on Kevin Doyle for making a close play on the ball from an offside position (even though he didn't make contact).  Even if the AR had let that slide I believe that Doyle could ahve  been called offside on the shot as he was standing right next to the keeper and could be seen as interfering with his chance to make a save.
  • Doyle was left in Colorado to get playing time with his team before the Euro roster decision.  Sadly it wasn't enough as he wasn't on the final roster released today and never left Colorado based on his tweet of the team hike out of Boulder today.
  • Cronin's goal might have been off the captain's shoulder.
  • 3 crossbars in one match is really lousy luck.
  • A couple of players showed why they haven't been getting playing time.  Hairston did not look real sharp off the bench but after he knocked the rust off he did have some nice passes.  Powers looked bad all game.  His miss of an almost open net was criminal.  At this point you ahve to wonder if he's on the trading block in the summer window.  There's a whole lot of salary tied up in somebody who doesn't look like he's going to be worth it here.
  • The swap of Burling for Watts was odd.  I can only assume that Burling picked up a knock because otherwise its a move that doesn't make much sense.
  • Hairston made a poor decision in stoppage time when he tried the through ball to an offside Doyle.  It immediately let Philly cycle the ball back to the other end of the field where they socred.  I'm not blaming Hairston for the goal but the smart move there would have been to pull back, keep possession, and kill the clock.
  • It was Williams (and to a lesser extent Azira) who lost his mark on the Philly goal.  Ball watching is the term for what Hairston was doing.  It was a really well placed shot though.
  • The Rapids have a home USOC game two weeks from tomorrow against the winner of tomorrow night's match between AZ United and Colorado Springs.  Then they have the Fire at home on the 19th before going to LA on the 22nd.  Then another break until the 4th of July match and the welcoming of Tim Howard.
  • Because of the break there probably won't be much to talk about.  I'll have some posts on the Copa (Jones and Howard) and the Euros (Gashi) but other than that expect this blog to be quiet unless some news breaks.
Man of the Match: Axel Sjoberg.  This year Sjoberg has shut down Joao Plata, Graham Zusi (twice), and Giovinco, among others.  This week it was CJ Sapong's turn to wear Sjoberg as a second jersey and much like the rest of them he largely disappeared from the match.  Sjoberg had good flashes lat season but this year he's turned into a quality MLS starter that some national media are already considering for the All-Star Game.  Performances like Saturday's will only help.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Battle At The Top

Spin To Win!

The top team in the East, Philadelphia, comes to Commerce City to face the top team in the West.  There's something nobody expected to write when the season started.  Philly is on short rest after playing in Orlando Wednesday while Colorado is missing Jones and Gashi for international play.  Should be a close mach.  Kickoff is at 7pm tomorrow so the tailgate starts at 4.  Altitude for those who can't make it.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: M Marco Pappa (knee); F Dominique Badji (upper leg)
UNAVAILABLE: M Shkelzen Gashi (Albania National team); M Jermaine Jones (U.S. National team); D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)
YELLOW CARD CAUTION: D Marc Burch (3 games to good behavior reduction)

Badji is a new addition and explains why Calvert was recalled.  Philly isn't missing anyone for national team duty but Edu is Out and two other players are Questionable.

Starting XI Prediction:

This looks like a 2015 lineup with a little help.  Tomorrow's game will be interesting to watch.  Has our recent success only been because of the new talent or has there been improved coaching?

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Kevin Doyle.  Two of the toughest defenses in MLS, one team on short rest, the other without its midfield creativity.  This won't be the beautiful game we see on Saturday.  Home field and elevation will be just enough for the Rapids to scrape out a win over the tired Union.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Calvert Back, Pappa Still Out

Two piece of roster news:

Not ideal but this weekend's game is the big impact.  With no Jones, Gashi, or Pappa I wonder where the midfield creativity is going to come from.  After that we have a break until the USOC game on June 15th and the home game against the Fire on the 19th.  We probably don't need Pappa to win those games.  We'll want him back when we go to LA on the 22nd though.
Odd timing on this.  He would be cover for Doyle being gone but Doyle will be here Saturday.  After that we won't need him until the 19th.  He's already cup-tied to Charlotte so we can't use him in the USOC match on the 15th.  Given that, why not leave him in Charlotte at least through their USOC 3rd round match nest Wednesday?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rapids Get Three The Hard Way

It wasn't pretty but it was effective.  Bunkering down and withstanding a Seattle onslaught while scoring the only shot on target they had all night isn't the usual path to victory but for this team it worked.  A 1-0 win continues an 8 game unbeaten streak.

General Impressions:
  • That was a fairly ugly match for the Rapids.  Not much flow without Gashi or Pappa and Jones having an off night.
  • Gashi being gone was a surprise.  Apparently the Rapids let him leave early to join the Albanian team for the Euros but kept that card close to his vest.
  • On the flip side we found out after the game that Doyle will not leave to join Ireland until next Sunday, which means we get him for an extra game.
  • I'm a bit surprised Jones managed to get through the match without a red card.
  • MacMath had a really solid game.  There weren't that many shots to deal with but he made the right decisions at the right time and came up big in a couple of places.  Stoning Dempsey early was huge.
  • Glad to see Sjoberg finally score from a corner.  Considering the Rapids have been feeding the big Swede the ball on corners for over a year it finally paid off.
  • Solignac should have put the game out of reach, no idea how with that much space he managed to hit the post.
  • Doyle put in a good game, lots of hustle and hard work.  He just couldn't get enough space to be dangerous.
  • 8 game unbeaten streak now, which is one game short of the team record.
  • For the first time ever since I've been tracking it the Bodmer Line is now under 1 pt/game the rest of the way (.95 pts/game).  Since it was asked we need to play at 1.75 pts/game ther est of the way to reach the average points the Supporters Shield winner have had in the 34 game seasons.  I think that's optimistic right now.
  • After being winless in 11 attempts in Seattle the Rapids have now won their last two games there and three in a row overall against the Sounders.
  • Colorado doesn't have another road game until they're in LA on June 22nd.  Of course they only have 2 home games plus a home USOC game between now and then due to the Copa break.
  • The Rapids have the highest point total and the best pts/game in the league.  Not only that but even if the teams behind themwere to win their games in hand they wouldn't catch the Rapids.  By every metric we are currently the best team in the league.
Man of the Match: Marc Burch.  I went back and forth between MacMath and Burch b
ut in the end Burch had an assist, a saved goal off the line, and a couple of other important defensive breakups so he got the nod.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rapids In Seattle Just After Volcano Day

May 18th, 1980

The anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption isn't exactly celebrated in the Pacific NW but it is certainly remembered and has been adopted by some as Cascadia Day.  The Rapids head into a place where they've  only ever one one game in their history tomorrow, the good news is that it was the most recent game that they won.  Long time readers also know that this is a battle of my current town and my home town (and yes, I remember where 5 year old me was when the mountain blew its top).  Game time tomorrow is 8pm on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); D Eric Miller (groin); M Marco Pappa (knee)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

No changes for the Rapids.  Seattle has one out and two questionable.

Starting XI Prediction:

This seems to be our standard XI at this point, I really see no reason to expect a change.  With international callups this will be the last time we see this group together until July 4th, and then MacMath will (presumably) be replaced by Howard.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  Turf and two good defenses make this look like a frustrating draw.  Both teams will likely come out thinking they could have won but Seattle's scoring woes will continue and the surface will screw with the Rapids enough that we won't be able to find the net.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Third Of The Way Through

We are, roughly, a third of the way through the season and after a busy week last week this would be a good time to do a quick review of the year so far.

In my season preview I had the following predictions:
  • Rapids finish with points in the low-40s and in 8th place in the West
  • The Rapids get less than 12 points in their first 9 games, leading to Pablo's removal as head coach sometime in that stretch.
  • Spencer takes over and rides the "new coach" bounce to a win over FSL in game 10
 Yeah, about that... :D  I missed badly on my early season predictions.  Of course, so did everyone else.  Colorado has gotten off to the best start in their history and currently sits on top of the table after earning 24 points in the first 12 games.  This week on the MLS Extratime podcast the hosts declared that the Rapids have already punched their ticket for the playoffs and its hard to disagree.  It would take a pretty epic collapse at this point not to get to the upper 40s and likely into the playoffs.

In my defense I also predicted this:
  • The Rapids make one more notable signing (name player, not necessarily DP) this season
The day after I made that post the Rapids traded for Jermaine Jones. :D

Breaking it down by position group:

Goalkeeper: C-
MacMath has done a good enough but he's had some big mistakes.  In the end he's cost us the 2 points in DC is all (the point against FSL wasn't his fault.  He let the goal in but FSL had a legit goal called offside anyway) but I'm not real confident with him back there.  We've got 4 games left though before an obvious improvement in the arrival of Tim Howard.

Defense: B+
I really don't know how to grade this group.  Individually only Williams has really been above average but as a team they've got the lowest goals against average in MLS.  They're also the lowest paid group of defenders in MLS.  Clearly the defense has done its job but again I don't have 100% confidence in them.  Also the lack of depth in center in appalling.  B+ might be a bit harsh but I can't look at these players and feel like they deserve a A-/A based on their play.

Midfield: A+++
This is the core of the team's success.  That B+ for the defense gets upgraded when you add in what Cronin and Azira have done to keep dangerous situations from occurring.  Azira would be in running for the pickup of the year in the league if it weren't for his teammate.   Jermaine Jones is the pickup of the year so far and is the MVP of the first third of the season for the Rapids.  That role looked like it was going to be filled by Marco Pappa, who was directly involved in every goal the team scored before his injury.  Gashi hasn't lit up the scoreboard yet but his service has been better than we've seen in some time.

Forward: A
Doyle and Solignac have combined for 5 goals and 3 assists which is a pretty good total considering Doyle's injury.  The injury allowed Solignac to show how well he can fill that hole, something that will be necessary after this weekend's game.  With support coming from Pappa and Jones the pressure to be the only source of scoring is gone but I would like to see Doyle's number go up a bit more given his price tag.

Bench: B
We've seen Burch (or Miller, depending on who you think is the "starter"), Watts, Powers, Solignac, and Badji get significant minutes off the bench.  The only one of those that you really question is Badji, especially since Serna could fill most of the positions Badji's been filling, though I'm not thrilled with Watts being the primary CB sub.  Solignac and Burch/Miller in particular have been great in filling holes due to injury.  Serna's lack of playing time is really the only negative here.

Coaching: B-
Clearly Pablo's doing something right given the results.  I believe a lot of what that is is psychological, not tactics.  There's an attitude about this team we haven't seen in a while, a belief in each other that they;re never  out of it and they won't be stopped.  Pablo has also, finally, settled on a core group of players and is making minor changes in the lineup from game to game which has brought some stability to the play.  His big issue continues to be in-game adjustments.  He hasn't made any significant tactical changes that have reversed a result yet this season.  His substitution pattern has been particularly poor, averaging just 2 subs a game and only using all 3 subs 25% of the time.  In a long season we need to rest players and get our bench players more time early to be ready to step in as the season goes on and the starters miss games.

Front Office: B
At this point I think the FO (Bravo) gets more credit than Pablo for the results, mainly due to the gigantic increase in talent they pulled together this offseason.  They left it very late and I think they got a bit lucky (Howard) but credit to them for getting the job done.  There's more skill on the field then we've seen in a long time.  Gashi, Jones, Pappa, Azira, and Williams might be the best group of five signings as you can find on a team this offseason.  The lack of a true center back reserve player until the signing of Casillo was criminal though.  I don't see how anyone thought that was a good idea.  We're also seeing that the original plan of bringing in MacMath making Irwin expendable was not a good one.

So the average of all those grades would be a B+ but I think we would all agree this team deserves an A.  This is definitely a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, something best exemplified by our defense.  While there are some tweaks around the edges I'd like to see (more subbing, more CB depth, Serna getting more playing time) mainly I just want to see this run continue.  If it ain't broke...

USOC And Salary Info

Two pieces of news today.  We'll start with the small stuff first.  The 4th round U.S. Open Cup draw was held today and it was determined that the Rapids will host the winner of the game on June 1st in Arizona between Arizona United and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, both USL teams.  The game will be sometime between June 14th and 16th.

The bigger news was the first release of the 016 salary list.  Here's the numbers for the Rapids.  The first number is the base salary, the second is the 2016 guaranteed salary.

Azira Michael $63,000.00 $65,826.88
Badji Dominique $53,472.00 $53,472.00
Berner John $63,000.00 $63,000.00
Burch Marc $120,000.00 $120,000.00
Burling Bobby $110,000.00 $116,000.00
Calvert Caleb $75,000.00 $82,500.00
Castillo Dennis $51,500.04 $51,500.04
Cronin Sam $225,000.00 $227,500.00
Doyle Conor $66,000.00 $67,250.00
Doyle Kevin $1,075,000.00 $1,120,000.00
Froschauer Chris $51,500.04 $51,500.04
Gashi Shkelzen $1,575,000.00 $1,668,750.00
Hairston Marlon $90,000.00 $113,000.00
Howard Tim $2,100,000.00 $2,575,000.00
Jones Jermaine $600,000.00 $650,000.00
MacMath Zac $140,000.00 $140,000.00
Miller Eric $66,412.50 $77,412.50
Pappa Marco $110,000.00 $110,000.00
Pfeffer Zach $101,000.00 $101,000.00
Powers Dillon $270,000.00 $300,000.00
Ramirez Juan Edgardo $85,000.00 $85,000.00
Serna Dillon $66,000.00 $79,000.00
Sjoberg Axel $66,000.00 $81,000.00
Solignac Luis $85,000.00 $85,000.00
St. Ledger Sean $191,875.00 $194,375.00
Watts Jared $68,000.00 $68,000.00
Williams Mekeil $85,000.00 $85,000.00

Two notes.  Jones' cap his is being bought down with TAM and we're also on the hook for at least half of Sarvas' $360K+.

No real surprises here.  Once we signed Gashi, Howard, and Jones to go with Doyle it was clear pretty much everyone else was going to be under $150K in order to fit under the cap.  We've got 4 players making the max (or more), 21 players making under $150K, and 2 players in-between.

Its those two players where we're getting the least bang for the buck.  Sean St. Ledger is just below 200K and due to injury hasn't played yet this season.  Dillon Powers is making $300K and has played 457 minutes (most  of that during Jones' suspension).  That's over $1K per minute we've gotten from those two players.  Obviously a huge waste right now.

The steals this year appear to be Azira at $65K (that might be the steal of the league) and Williams at $85K.  If Pappa comes back at the same level his $110K is looking good too (and its lower than was what rumored).

The sum of the salaries of the top 18 paid players (adjusting the big 4 to just be the cap number) is $3.66M.  The cap is $3.66M.  That doesn't even include whatever we're paying Sarvas.  Obviously we're using both types of allocation money (GAM and TAM) to get him within the budget but its safe to say that we're essentially at the cap and if we fill that last open roster spot it will be a developmental player at a low cost.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Colorado Grinds To A Draw

The Rapids dragged their way through the game on Saturday night on Columbus, doing just enough to extend their undefeated streak to seven games.  This included maybe the worst half the team has played this season and a number of players looking dead on their feet by the end of the game.  Luckily the team has a full week off before heading for Seattle.

From Friday's game preview:
Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Kevin Doyle.  Columbus is struggling but is rested while the Rapids are flying high but playing their third game this week.  I think the teams cancel each other out and the undefeated streak continues but only with a point tonight.
That's pretty much how it went down.

General Impressions:
  • The first half was ugly soccer circa Rapids 2014-15.  Credit to the team in getting out down just one but the fans had some bad flashbacks watching it.
  • Gashi hasn't lit up the scoreboard but his set pieces have been excellent this year.  The corner to set up Doyle was perfect.
  • Williams and Burch looked like they were done about 30 minutes in.  Williams in particular kept getting burned by the Crew's speed.
  • Most of the rest of the team was out of gas 60 or so minutes in, having just enough to get the tying goal.
  • Despite that Pablo made one sub at 79' (Jones for Powers) and was forced into one due to injury at 87'.  The third sub was up ready to go in as stoppage time ended.
  • Once again Pablo made the correct subs 15-20 minutes late.  I understand not wanting to change something that's working but if our top players don't get a little more rotation they're going to run out of gas in August.  The players that need it the most (Jones, Gashi, Doyle) aren't going to get to take advantage of the June break as they'll be travelling and playing with their National teams.
  • The Bodmer Line continues to set all tie low records, currently at 1.04 pts/game the rest of the season.
  • Colorado remains the only team at 2 pts/game in the league, remaining on top of the Supporters Shield standings.
Man of the Match: Micheal Azira.  In a game where everyone else looked a step slower he was at 100% and kept the Crew from being too dangerous.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rapids Face Ex-Village People On The Road

The reason this preview is late

One more game in this busy week.  Tonight the Rapids are in Columbus facing the newly branded Crew.  Columbus has had a busy week of its own as a locker room meltdown led to the trade of Kei Kamara, who tied Giovinco for the most goals in the league last season.  So we're going to see what kind of mental shape the Crew are in tonight.  Kickoff is at 5:30 on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: D Eric Miller (groin); M Marco Pappa (knee); F Shkelzen Gashi (illness)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

The same thing we saw on Wednesday.  Columbus is down two players.

Starting XI Prediction:

If it ain't broke...

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Kevin Doyle.  Columbus is struggling but is rested while the Rapids are flying high but playing their third game this week.  I think the teams cancel each other out and the undefeated streak continues but only with a point tonight.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Six In A Row

From USAToday

Well it was very much a mid-week/short rest MLS game but the Rapids found another way to win it.  This time it was Dillon Serna off the bench that found the winner.  If you remember a few games ago in KC it was Serna's bomb after coming off the bench that rebounded off the crossbar to Gashi to finish that resulted in the winner over KC.  The Rapids are now 6-0-0 at home, are the only team at or above 2 pts/game this season, are leading the league, and are off to their best start over 11 games in their history.

General Impressions:
  • Only 4 shots on goal combined from the teams.  It was that type of game.
  • Dom Dwyer, meet Axel Sjoberg.  You'll be wearing him all night which is why we won't be seeing you. :D
  • Seriously, the only thing Dwyer did all night was rip Sjoberg's jersey off and get a yellow card for it.
  • Cronin and Azira are by far the unsung heroes of this season so far.  Its really hard for any team to get any midfield flow through them.
  • Badji showed why he's not a starter again last night.  Gashi was sick but Serna should start in his place next time.
  • Speaking of subs that was maybe the only negative from last night.  Serna should have come in (preferably for Badji) 10-15 minutes earlier.
  • Jones was dying the last 5-10 minutes he was out there.  It shouldn't take him sitting down and calling for the trainer for Pablo to see he needs to be subbed out.
  • I was in a different seat for this game due to my company having an outing at the stadium for the match.  usually I'm in 108 but last night I was under the canopy at the top of 122.  Its good to get a new perspective from time to time.
  • That's right above the corner where the subs warm up.  Just before the goal w as scored Pablo was getting ready to put Watts in but he was sent back to the other subs after we scored.  Until Jones went down nobody was preparing to come in.  Then when it was obvious Jones was coming off Powers ripped off his warm up gear to come in.
  • The big decision of the match, the two yellows on Oara.  The first one was a no-brainer, Opara even high-fived the ref after getting it because he knew he deserved it.
  • The second was much more questionable.  I think it was a foul but unless there was contact that could only be seen by the AR up close I think it was a soft yellow.
  • That said, I don't really think it changed the game.  The Rapids scored on the ensuing free kick (which they would have had with or without the card) and it wasn't from a man left open due to the missing KC player.  Serna out maneuvered his mark and hit a seeing-eye goal past about 7 players.  I don't see how having another player likely not involved in the play would have prevented it.
  • It was certainly harder for KC to come back from the goal down a man but given that in the first 75 minutes playing 11 on 11 they managed only one shot on goal I doubt they had a goal in them even without the red card.
  • The Rapids had 20 points in 11 games in 2010.  They have 23 this year.  I'd be very happy if this year ended like 2010 did.
Man of the Match: Dillon Serna.  Kind of a cop out going with the goal scorer but it was a fairly average game all around and the goal was the highlight, especially coming just 2 minutes after he subbed in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Can The Rapids Make It 6 Of 6 At Home?

Sporking KC is in town

Another quick turnaround this week as KC comes into Commerce City tomorrow night.  They're on a bad run of results that was started with the win we got in KC a few weeks ago.  Since then they haven't won and they've had trouble scoring.  Meanwhile the Rapids haven't lost since that win in KC and have found their scoring touch.  Let's hope those streaks continue tomorrow.  Kickoff is at 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4 and the game will be on Altitude for those who can't make it.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Eric Miller (groin); D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Marco Pappa (knee)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

KC is only down two players.  nothing new on our injury front, though Miller said during his C38 podcast interview on Saturday that he thought he'd be available for this one.  Doesn't look like it though.

Starting XI Prediction:

With Burch having come into Saturday's game nursing a bit of a knock I expect Hairston to get the start over him just to give him a rest.  Otherwise the same lineup as Saturday.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Jones.  KC is struggling and is on short rest.  We're also on short rest so I think thi game will be close but Jones carries us once more.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rapids Take League Lead

A stellar defensive effort combined with enough offense to break through has put the Rapids on top of MLS with a 1-0 win.  They also took control of the RMC race, now with a win or a draw in the final game in August the Cup will stay in Colorado.

General Impressions:
  • Great first 10 minutes for the Rapids.  They pushed FSL early with a couple of good looks that set the tone for the game.
  • Colorado really should have had a goal in the first half but they got Rimando'ed a couple of times and couldn't take advantage.
  • Jones fixed that right after half though.  His 3rd goal in 4 games along with 2 assists.  He's on fire.
  • Nice layoff by Doyle on the goal, set Jones up perfectly.
  • Sjoberg had a rough game.  While he cleared everything, he cleared a lot of them out of bounds under little pressure.
  • Azira and Cronin did a good job breaking up most dangerous attacks.  They're the reason that the makeshift (at times) back line this year has held up so well.
  • Pablo really needs to use his subs.  Sjoberg and Gashi were out of steam way before they came out and we left another sub unused.
  • Good to see Serna getting playing time though.
  • Colorado is the first team in MLS to 20 points this season and is tied with LA at 2 pts/game.
  • The Bodmer Line is now at 1.125 pts/game the rest of the way.
  • Can't take our eyes off the ball though.  As the C38 tifo said, we have to:

Man of the Match: Zac MacMath.  A great bounce-back game after his blunder in Sandy last month.  He came up big on a number of saves and snagged a dangerous cross out of the air late to preserve the shutout.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Back In Time For The RMC

In the Kilauea Iki caldera, in honor of our hot start

Well the reason I've been quiet since the game preview two weeks ago was a trip to Hawai'i.  I thought I'd be able to do short updates during the trip but we were pretty busy.  I'll have a look back at Seattle and Montreal next week.

Tonight though we look forward to FSL and the Rocky Mountain Cup game tomorrow night.  Normally a big match due to the rivalry its even bigger this time around as the teams are 1-2 in the league standings.  A winner tomorrow night would clearly (IMO) stake their claim to the best team in the league right now.  FSL would also win the Rocky Mountain Cup with a win while Colorado would put themselves in position to retain it with a draw in the final match if they get all 3 points tomorrow.  Game time tomorrow is 7pm with the game on Altitude and the tailgate starting at 4.  Eric Miller will be the podcast guest at the tailgate this week.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Eric Miller (groin); D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Marco Pappa (knee)
UNAVAILABLE: D Joseph Greenspan (Navy duty)

FSL has four out and two questionable.  It sounds like one of those two (Plata) will play while the other (Maund) likely won't.  For the Rapids there are no surprises though I was hoping Pappa would e available.

Starting XI Prediction:

Pretty much the same as last week, I don't expect any changes.

Prediction: 2-0 win, goals by Jones and Gashi.  FSL is giving up almost 2 goals a game and is on the road while Colorado is giving up less than a goal a game and is undefeated at home.  That, combined with the rivalry aspect, will give the Rapids a strong edge in this one and they'll put themselves back in the lead in the RMC for the year wile taking the top spot in the league.