Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jones Back To Colorado, Greenspan To Charlotte

Steven Goff tweeted this afternoon that Jermaine Jones was heading back to Colorado after having his knee looked at by the National Team doctors and not being cleared to play.  Its the right move, I just don't understand why he was "called up" if it was really just about getting a second opinion on his knee.  Why not just announce that and avoid the bad optics?

Also the Independence announced that Joseph Greenspan is heading to Charlotte on loan.  As expected the load to the Switchbacks didn't last all season, I'm just surprised he's not staying in Denver.  I wonder if he's filling a roster gap left by the recall of Calvert (or possibly Berner if he was called back to back up MacMath this weekend).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pfeffer To Israel?

There's a report today that (according to those who can read Hebrew) Zach Pfeffer is set to sign with defending Israeli champs Hapoel Be'er Sheva.  Assuming this happens the Rapids would get some allocation money out of whatever nominal transfer fee the league gets for Pfeffer.  I can't imagine a guy with no MLS team minutes this season will command a large fee, but every little bit helps.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva were eliminated in the playoff round of the Champions League y Celtic and dropped into the Europa League where they'll face Inter, Sparta Prague, and Southampton int he group stage.  I assume Pfeffer is interesting to them partially because he's Jewish and as such can almost automatically obtain Israeli citizenship and not count against the foreigner limit in the league.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rapids Flatline In Sandy

A rivalry game usually results in the players playing with more drive, passion, and desire than normal.  After the first 5 minutes on Friday night we saw the opposite.  The Rapids, with one notable exception, were flat for the remaining 85 minutes and lost 2-1, which was a generous socreline to Colorado.

General Impressions:
  • The game started well, with Gashi getting on a rebound of a Badji shot to give us an early 1-0 lead.  Most Rapids fans had to feel pretty good about a draw (and retention of the Rocky Mountain Cup) at worst at that point.
  • After that, we ceded all possession to FSL.  We asked our defense to hold a 1-0 lead for 85 minutes.  No surprise it didn't work.
  • In the first 65 minutes of the game the Rapids out-possessed FSL for only one 5 minute period, from 30-35'.  In that time we didn't get a single shot off.
  • Not that our defense looked like it could have defended a lead for 15, much less 85 minutes.  The ball-watching was criminal.
  • Yura Movsisyan was unmarked all night.  I don't know if the team was just falling down on their assignments or this was a strategic decision but whatever it was it was bad.  Not surprisingly he got both FSL goals.
  • I'll say this about the PK calls.  Ball don't lie.
  • The first call was a complete ghost call.  No foul there at all.  The second did have some contact from Miller but not any more that goes uncalled every week in this league.
  • Miller had a particularly bad game BTW.
  • How about that PK save from Tim?  High point of the game and I was hoping we'd ride that emotional boost to a tying goal.  Or not.
  • The ref was letting a lot of gamesmanship from FSL go.  hope Solo would approve.
  • Pablo takes blame for some of this.  Powers should not be starting over Azira.  The midfield struggles to control possession with a Powers - Cronin back 2.
  • His like for like subs and stubborn dedication to the 4-2-3-1 is also on him.  Doyle is wasted up top with no help or a top flight midfield passer (like Jones) to feed him.  We need a second striker.
  • That said, the players have to take a large chink of responsibility for this game.  I expect more, not less, from them in a rivalry match.  Nobody outside of Howard acted like they wanted to be there.
  • An example of how casual they were playing.  In stoppage tie down a goal an attacking throw-in ended up being played all the way back to Howard.  That's pitiful.
  • That's a bit unfair to Gashi I guess.  He was showing effort but you can't beat Rimando from distance without a lucky bounce like the first goal.
  • Somehow we still had more shots on goal than them.
  • This season was fun while it lasted but I'm pretty sure the bottom is about to drop out. If you asked me to make a prediction right now I'd say a 3rd place finish, win the home wild-card, lose to LA/FSL in the next round. The Front Office will call it a successful season since they achieved their goal of a home playoff game.
Man of the Match: Tim Howard.  The one guy who seemed to care about winning this game.  Sorry your teammates let you down.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Poor Optics From Jones

(We'll get to reviewing the debacle on Friday night tomorrow)

I want to start this by pointing out that I am an unapologetic Jones fanboy (as seen in my post announcing his signing).  That said, the optics of his weekend have been poor to say the least.

A couple of hours before kickoff on Friday Jones posted this photo to social media:
We already knew he was out for the Rocky Mountain Cup match so the only surprise was that he was headed to Jacksonville, which is coincidentally where the U.S. Nats are having camp for their World Cup Qualifiers next week.

Sure enough, earlier today Jurgen Klinsmann announced the 26 man roster for camp and Jones was included.

Tonight the Jacksoville Jaguars tweeted out this photo of their honorary captains for their preseason game:

The image here is not good.  It appears that after almost 2 months of being injured and just as he's on the cusp of returning JJ has prioritized getting to Jacksonville to play for the Nats over his club team.  Even if he couldn't play Friday night he could have been a team leader by being there and supporting the team, then he could have caught the same flight Tim Howard did to Jacksonville.  Instead he's spent the weekend in Jacksonville appearing at a NFL game instead of at a RMC game in Sandy.

In reality, it probably doesn't matter.  The way we played Friday night Jones' presence likely wouldn't have made a difference and I doubt he'd play next weekend coming back from injury due to the turf in New England.  Still its one thing to be in the situation where your healthy just in time to miss club games for your country, its another to throw it in the faces of your fans while doing it.

I don't want to think of the frustration from Rapids fans if JJ starts for the Nats on Friday or if he gets re-injured while with the Nats.  There's a report that he's really only in Jacksonville to get looked at by the National Team doctors but I don't think a player gets "called up" if he's at a point where he needs to be examined by more doctors.  We'll see if he makes the final 18 man game day roster for either game and how much he plays, if any.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Time To Retain The Rocky Mountain Cup

Need I say more?

The Rapids have gone west to face FaKe SaLt LaKe over in Sandy with the Rocky Mountain Cup and their standing in the Supporters Shield race on the line.  A win or a draw and the supporters will be bringing the RMC right back to Colorado again, a loss and not only do we lose the RMC but we have to really start looking over our shoulders at LA and FSL creeping up on us.  Game time tomorrow is an earlier 6pm and the game is on Univision Deportes and UniMas for national television.  No English broadcast that I'm aware of.  This is the kickoff of the second Heineken Rivalry Weekend of the season and Heineken and MLS are sponsoring a watch party at Stoney's.  There's also a C38 watch party for those of us who didn't make the road trip at the Celtic, which is where I'll be.

Player Availability:
OUT: M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Jermaine Jones (quad)

FSL has 3 players out, one questionable, and one suspended (Beltran) so they're in worse shape than we are.  Jones is not available tomorrow and I doubt we see St. Ledger.

Starting XI Prediction:

I'd prefer to see Azira over Powers but I bet Pablo sticks with the same lineup from the last couple of days.  This assumes that the rumored knock that Doyle had last week doesn't stop him from playing.  If it does I hope we see Gashi up front with Pappa behind him.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Hairston.  This feels a bit pessimistic to me as I think FSL and their shaky defense can be beaten but strange things happen in the RMC.  Given our lack of offense and our long-time frustration at Rio Tinto I'm going to think a draw is more likely, and something I'd be happy with.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Should Our Expectations Be?

Before we get into the topic of the post a quick news note.  Tim Howard confirmed to the Denver Post that he'll be joining the National Team for their qualifiers next weekend and he'll leave after the Rocky Mountain Cup match on Friday.  Jermaine Jones is still day-to-day and his availability to the National Team is unknown.

Now the main topic.  With 10 games to go I thought that it would be time for another midseason review, since we're at the 2/3rds point (approx).  Then I realized we all know where the team stands.  Great, almost historic, defense, bad offense, questionable coaching.  So instead I decided this was a good time to set our expectations for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.  We could, theoretically, still finish anywhere from first to tenth in the West and the Shield is still a possibility.  So what's reasonable to expect?

I'm going to break this down by finishing spot and go one by one.

10th-7th in the West, AKA missing the playoffs - Obviously this would be a complete failure and heads should roll.  Honestly with the number of head-to-head matchups left int he West I'm not sure this is actually possible.

6th place - We'd make the playoff but on a really bad streak to end the season and without a home game.  I'd call this a failure.

5th place - See 6th place but with an easier wild-card game.  Failure.

4th place - We'd stumble to the end and get passed by LA and FSL (presumably).  We'd get a home game that we'd be favored to win but then face Dallas most likely and be eliminated.  Not a failure but certainly not good enough.

3rd place - Now we're getting into a situation where I could see us ending up.  Anything lower than 3rd is pretty unlikely at this point as I don't see LA and FSL getting hot enough to pass us unless the wheels completely come off.  If we end up in 3rd it means that a pretty hot LA caught us late int he season.  We'd host the 6th placed team in the wild card game and then play that LA team as an underdog but it wouldn't be that big of a surprise for us to beat them.  I'd call this result a bit disappointing and typical of the Rapids but certainly not a failure and overall a good season.

2nd place - Essentially this means we wasted our two games in hand and were unable to catch Dallas.  I think this is the most likely result right now given our lack of offense.  We'd get a bye into the first round and then have rest and home field advantage favoring us in the 2nd round before a probable match up with Dallas for MLS Cup.  That would be a very good season but it would really need a MLS Cup run (at least to the final if not winning it) to feel like we took full advantage of our success this season.

1st place, no Shield - The math to end up in this scenario is unlikely but possible.  A run that puts us over Dallas would probably keep us ahead of Toronto but stranger things have happened.  Obviously this would be a successful season and set us up nicely for a MLS Cup run which we would likely host against anyone but Toronto.  A first placed finish that didn't end up with a MLS Cup appearance would be a bit bittersweet however.

1st place, with Shield - Obviously the top of the mountain, ultimate success, whatever you want to call it.  We've led the league, at least in pts/game, almost all season and you would hope this would be the result.  The Shield winners have won 5 of 20 MLS Cups, better than any other rank in the final table so we would be favorites to host and win it.

I think anything under 3rd at this point would have to be considered a failure with 10 games to go.  A reasonable expectation is a 2nd place finish with some optimism that we can win the West and likely the Shield.  As far as a playoff run goes we should be expecting the conference finals.  Even from the 3rd spot we shouldn't fear the 2nd placed team and if we're one of the top 2 we would be a favorite to make the final.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rapids Get Forgettable Draw

Colorado had a chance to really take control at the top of the table this week.  Dallas lost to FSL and LA drew.  Instead a boring match that ended 0-0 leaves Colorado in a slightly better position but without the separation they should have at this point.

General Impressions:
  • In all seriousness there's only two plays in the whole game that stood out to me.  The first was a foul on Doyle in the 65th minute that was a clear Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) and should have been a red card for Orlando and a man advantage for the last 25 minutes for Colorado.  Instead the ref only went yellow.
  • The second was a sliding block at the top of the box by Burch in the 85th minute.  It was probably the most dangerous look Orlando had all night and Burch timed his slide perfectly.
  • Other than that this was a game of meaningless possession and poor midfield passing, on both sides.
  • For about 20 minutes or so early in the second half Colorado had Orlando back on its heels but couldn't finish them off.  For most of the rest of the half Orlando was probably the better team.
  • That's mainly because Kreis made subs to neutralize what the Rapids were doing while Pablo's subs were...questionable.
  • Le Toux came out for Pappa, which made some sense since Le Toux probably isn't 90 minutes fit yet.  Then Cronin came out for Azira which was pointless from what I could see.  The final sub in the 90th minute was Doyle for Badji which...why?  There was one report that Doyle picked up a knock and that's the only reason I can see to make that sub.
  • My thought was essentially "Welcome back 2015 Pablo, nobody missed you".
  • This game called for Badji to be put in for Powers and a switch to a 4-4-2.  Pablo is stubborn about the 4-2-3-1 but an additional attacking resource,, even Badji, would have made the difference I think.
  • 2 points left on the field Saturday night.  2 points left on the field against Dallas.  2 against Portland on the 4th of July.  If (or what I think is more likely now, when) we fail to win the Shield we'll look back at those 6 points as why.
  • The Bodmer Line is down to .4 pts/game.
  • On to FSL and the Rocky Mountain Cup.  A win on Friday would be huge for our Shield chances and we'd keep the Cup.
Man of the Match: Marc Burch.  Pretty much because of that sliding block.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rapids Face Mickey Mouse Team

Any team with Brek Shea is a Mickey Mouse team

Our one home game in this important stretch of five games tomorrow.  Its also Orlando City's first ever trip to Colorado.  Its a big match for Colorado as Dallas and FSL play each other so a win will either put more distance between us and the west-siders before next week's RMC match or it will close the gap on Dallas (or both if they tie).  Kickoff is at 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  If you can't make it you can choose between the final full night of Olympic coverage or Fleming and Balboa on Alttidue.

Player Availability:
OUT: M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Jermaine Jones (quad)

Orlando has four players out and two that are day-to-day.  We know from yesterday's news that Jones will not be available.  Maybe we see St. Ledger on the bench but I doubt it.

Starting XI Prediction:

I hope that Pablo learned from last week that Badji and Powers shouldn't be starting and Le Toux and Azira should be.  Those are the only two question marks I have on this lineup, everything else seems obvious.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Gashi.  Orlando isn't a good road team and they have a lousy defense.  They've got a pretty good offense but as we've seen this year (outside of NYC), good offenses haven't scared the Rapids.  We can't expect the Rapids to make ti easy, they never make it easy, but 3 points should be the expectation and the result tomorrow.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jones Out Another 1-2 Weeks

From an article on
He’ll be unavailable for this weekend’s match however, based on the results of a recent medical evaluation.
“It’s getting better,” Jones said of the injury. “But we talked to the doctors, the national team and the club about what we’re going to do and said ‘We need some more time.’ It will maybe be another one or two weeks.”
Not ideal but we're managing to get by without him.  I'd love to have him back for FSL next week though.

Some might see this timing as convenient given the World Cup Qualifiers two weeks from tomorrow.  I have a hard time believing Klinsmann is going to call up somebody who hasn't played a competitive game in two months for two qualifiers though.  Of course JK has done stranger things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rapids Season Run-In Analysis

Originally written for the C38 blog

With 11 games to go the Rapids sit in the top spot in the Supporters Shield race (by pts/game), a place they’ve never been before.  Our focus naturally goes to the rest of the season and what we will face to see where the critical points are.

Colorado has actually just started their most important run of games.  Saturday in LA was the first of 5 games that will probably determine our position when we hit the post season.  Looking at that group first:

8/13 @LA – Draw
8/20 – Orlando
8/26 - @FSL
9/3 - @NE
9/10 - @Dallas

That’s our longest road trip (NE), two games against our rivals for the top spot (LA, Dallas), a Rocky Mountain Cup match, and our one home game in that stretch.  The key in this group of games is to keep pace with Dallas and not let the Galaxy gain ground on us.  The draw in LA was a good start, especially with Dallas also drawing Saturday night.  Obviously this week at home is a must win against a weak team.  Then we have 3 tough road games in a row.  We need to get at least a draw in Sandy, not only for our Shield chances but also to win the Rocky Mountain Cup.  Obviously we need at least a draw against Dallas to keep pace with them but we don’t necessarily need a win if the next 3 games go well.  Any points off the long road trip to New England (where they play on turf) would be good but a loss here wouldn’t kill us.

The reason that group of 5 games are the critical ones is because the last 7 games of the season are very favorable:

9/17 – SJ
9/24 - @Vancouver
10/1 – Portland
10/8 - @Houston
10/13 – SJ
10/16 - @Portland
10/23 – Houston

That’s 7 games against 4 teams in the bottom half of the conference.  Houston is already all but eliminated from the playoffs and we get them twice.  San Jose is the best of the teams (at 1.35 pts/game) but we get them at home both times and they have a total of 1 road win this season.  We’ve seen Vancouver twice recently and they don’t look particularly scary.  The toughest game in the group will be @ Portland because it will be on short rest and on turf, and Portland is a pretty good road team.  The good news is that they don’t have a road win yet so we should be in good shape for their trip here.

Two particularly important games are the trip to Houston and the second San Jose game as those represent the two games “in hand” we have on Dallas.  Houston and Colorado are the only teams playing the weekend of 10/8 as the rest of the league is taking the weekend off for the international break and the San Jose game is the one midweek game we still have on our schedule.

We should expect to win all of our 5 remaining home games if we expect to be in realistic contention for the Shield. That’s 15 points.  Combined with our current 42 points that gets us to 57.  If we can average a point a game on the road in our 6 road games that’s 63 points.  That should probably be enough as long as we don’t lose to Dallas since 2 of Dallas’ and LA’s last 3 games are against each other and they should take points off of each other as well.  Of course that plan I just laid out means going on another double-digit undefeated streak, not something we can reliably expect.  So we will probably lose a road game or two and maybe draw a game or two at home.  I think we can make those points up though in places like Vancouver and Houston.

In the end the schedule sets up very nicely for us to make a late run to the Shield, a CCL place, and home field throughout the playoffs, including hosting MLS Cup if we make it that far.  The key to all of that is in our next 4 game though.  We need at least 5 points and we can’t lose to Dallas.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Howard Steals Point For Colorado

Another trip to LA, another point won.  Or stolen in this case as LA outplayed Colorado.  A draw was a good result though and with the rest of the leaders also drawing or losing no ground was lost at the top of the table.

General Impressions:
  • The game started quickly as Howard had to make his best save as a Rapid in the 11th minute, stopping Zardes in a 1 v 1 scenario.  Should be Save of the Week.
  • Oddly, despite dominating play, that would be the only on-target shot by the Galaxy in the first half.
  • Meanwhile Colorado would also get one shot on goal in the half, an easy long shot from Miller.
  • Shortly after half Gashi hit a Goal of the Week bomb off an assist from Hairston after a nice run of passing.  My jaw dropped watching it as it came really out of nowhere right after I commented on how boring we were playing.
  • The lead lasted only 10 minutes as Sjoberg got beat to a header off a corner that was headed home (with a slight tap from dos Santos).  Sjoberg didn't even get off the ground really, which is criminal for a 6'7" defender to get beat like that to a header by barely jumping.
  • There were times when this game looked like the Belgium WC game for Howard.  He had to save us far too often.
  • Nigel De Jong is a menace to everyone on the field.  After getting away with hacking down Doyle in the first half with no card he managed to take out his own keeper later in the game.  Good news is that Rowe is doing better today, though I'm sure he;s going through the concussion protocol.
  • Then after that De Jong got a yellow on a borderline red-card tackle of Powers.  That should have been his second yellow of the game.
  • Badji needs to g back to the bench and have Le Toux or Pappa start in his place.
  • Pablo was clearly playing for the draw when the second sub was Gashi for Azira, pushing Powers forward, and then never using his third sub.
  • 5 points in 3 games against LA this season.  Hard to complain about that.
  • One down, four to go on the last tough part of our schedule (more on that later this week).
Man of the Match: Tim Howard.  Games like this is why we're paying him over $2 million a year.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rapids Try To Swamp Galaxy Hopes

Time to dampen the Galaxy's star

Tomorrow is the first of 4 road games in a 5 game stretch that will go a long way in determining if we have a shot at the Shield or not.  First stop, sunny LA to face the Galaxy, one of the other two teams (along with Dallas) that have a realistic shot at the Shield.  Currently the Rapids have a 4 point lead on the Galaxy with equal games played so you could see how a win would give LA a tough hill to climb to catch us while a loss would have them breathing down our necks.  Late game-time tomorrow at 8:30pm so you'll have to choose between the Rapids and the possible final race of Michael Phelps career in Rio.  I plan to watch the game live on Altitude and DVR the Olympics.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
DOUBTFUL: M Jermaine Jones (quad)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: F Shkelzen Gashi (1 game for good behavior reduction)

LA is missing Rogers, Zardes is questionable, and the Ginger Ninja is suspended.  There's also a report that Keane may not be available after a hard collision last week.  It was pretty clear he had his bell rung was allowed to play on (Taylor Twellman is right about the lack of responsible head injury protocol in soccer) and Bruce Arena said today he was undergoing "protocol" without being more specific.  I'm betting its concussion related and I would expect the odds of him starting at least are low.

Disappointing to still (likely) be missing Jones but good to see Le Toux off the injury report and to see Azira back.

Starting XI Prediction:

I think Le Toux gets the start and you can't bench Hairston right now so Badji is the odd man out.  Otherwise its pretty much the expected starters now that Burling is healthy.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  The two best defenses in the league should make this a stalemate.  LA has a significantly better offense than we do but they played a USOC game midweek.  Their starters only subbed in late but I think that takes enough off their attack facing the best defense that we get a defensive battle and no scoring.  I'll take a draw in LA though.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rapids Bounce Back In Strong Fashion

After the crash and burn last week Colorado shuffled the 4-2-31- deck and came out with a strong and necessary performance as they retook the top spot in the league with a 2-0 win over the Whitecaps.  They had control off the game for the full 90 minutes and instead of taking their foot off the pedal after getting the go-ahead goal they kept pressing to put it away.

General Impressions:
  • An interesting formation with Powers dropped back to the suspended Azira's spot and Gashi moving into the middle.
  • I think Gashi in the middle showed a solution to our missing Jones problem.  I still don't think its as good as having JJ in there but its enough to make us more dangerous.
  • At some point though Gashi is going to have to get his long shots on target or defenses won't worry about stepping up to him.  I'm all for challenging defenses from long range but make the keeper make a save.
  • Vancouver looked uninterested in this game.  Some of that was the heavy pressure from the Rapids though, so the win shouldn't be discredited in anyway.
  • I'm pretty sure Joe Nasco could have gotten a shut out in this one though. ;)
  • Great to see Bobby Burling back.  You could see the defense was more composed and more confident with him back there.
  • The goals were like mirror images of each other.  Get to the endline, send a worm-burner across the goal, easy tap in for Hairston/Badji
  • I'm not sure what Ousted was doing on either go but  I think a better keeper (like Howard) saves at least one of them.
  • Le Toux got a bit of a run out and I liked his aggressiveness.  I think he takes Badji's spot when healthy, at least until Jones comes back.  At that point Pablo will have to choose between Hairston and Le Toux.
  • The Bodmer Line is down to .5 pts/game.  All-time low of course.
  • With the win the Rapids take the overall pts/lead back from Dallas but only by .03 pts/game.  We're 3 points behind them with 2 games in hand.
  • Huge game next week in LA.  With 12 games left we've got a 4 point lead.  A win would make it very difficult for LA to pass us while a loss makes it a toss-up.
Man of the Match: Marlon Hairston.  3rd goal in 4 games and an assist.  Easy call.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Rapids Try To Start New Streak

USA vs Canada on the first full day of Olympics

Time to put last week behind us.  A home match against an opponent we just played to a draw on the road is a good chance to get back to winning ways.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm and its will be a cooler, more enjoyable, tailgate starting at 4.  TV coverage is on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
DOUBTFUL: M Jermaine Jones (quad)
QUESTIONABLE: M Sebastien Le Toux (back)
SUSPENDED: M Micheal Azira
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: F Shkelzen Gashi (2 games for good behavior reduction)

Yeah, I was hoping to see Le Toux start but I don't think that's happening.  Kind of an ugly list of unavailable players to work around.  Vancouver has 3 players out (including ex-Rapid Jordan Harvey) and 2 players questionable.

Starting XI Prediction:

We could see Powers pushed back for Azira and Pappa in the middle (and then possibly Watts back on the back line in place of Miller) but my guess is the lineup above.  If somehow Le Toux can go he'd take Hairston's place.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Doyle.  As we saw a couple of weeks ago Vancovuer has a lousy defense.  I think our defense will get their act together at home but our offense isn't going to break out.  Another 1-0 game in the making.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Le Toux In, Solignac Out

So, a significant move at the end of the transfer window.  Le Toux is a significant immediate upgrade over Solignac but it comes with a price ($215K more) and its a short-term move.  Solignac is 25 and just getting into the prime of his career.  Sebastien is 32 and is generally seen as sliding down the backside of his.  He's also out of contract at the end of the season.

Pretty clear that this is a "go for it" move from Colorado.  Obviously our offense needs help and the rotating cast of characters at right mid of Solignac, Hairston, Badji, and Pappa wasn't getting it done.  I think this is a clear sign that Pappa has turned into (at best) a super sub while the other three have been stop-gap measures.

Le Toux gives immediate quality that can be plugged in there.  55 assists and 56 goals in 191 starts/236 appearances all time is significant.  In comparison Pappa is at 37/31 in 150/175 and Sarvas is at 11/21 in 120/132.  The downside is that I doubt we want to pay for him after this season so this will bee a 3+ month rental and then we'll need to fill that spot again.

I expect that the Rapids midfield/attack will line up something like this  now (assuming everyone is healthy and available):

Gashi - Jones - Le Toux
Cronin - Azira

With Pappa coming off the bench as our primary offensive sub.

I'm not convinced we have enough offense but we're a lot better off than we were to start the day.  Its good to see the FO seeing a need and giving us a shot this year by filling it.

Le Toux Official

Sure, I find out its official the moment I hit post.  Le Toux to Colorado for allocation money.  Also Solignac to Chicago for allocation money.

More to come as I analyze this.

Trade Winds Are Swirling

The transfer window closes at 11pm MDT tonight (so in just over 3 hours) and until an hour ago I was getting ready to write an article about how we made essentially no moves outside the already planned and announced Tim Howard signing in this window.  Then the Twitter rumor mill started up:

First MLS blogger Sam Stejskal:
Fire apparently aren't done. Hearing Luis Solignac headed to Chicago, with Fire sending general allocation to Colorado in return.
Then Ives:
I'm told Philadelphia Union have traded Sebastien Le Toux to Colorado. That's 1 way to reduce the glut of midfielders 
So, those are two notable moves if accurate.   Obviously we'll need to get official word and figure out the exact details   Le Toux is a forward who tends to play on the wing.  In 7.5 years in MLS he has 56 goals in 191 starts (236 appearances).  He has a green card so would not require a international slot.

The big hit with Le Toux is his salary.  $300K this year.  Soliganc in comparison is at $85K.

More on these stories as we get official word.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rapids Streak Ends Big In NYC

I predicted a 1-0 win with a goal by Gashi.  Well I got the Rapids score and goal scorer right.  Of course I didn't see the 5 goals coming from NYCFC.

There's a number off things that went into this loss and a number of reasons it can be excused away but I'm not really buying any of them.  This was a disaster of game.  There's no good reason Colorado should have been blown out of Yankee Stadium like that.  Not if we're contenders and not pretenders.

General Impressions:
  • I'm not going to get much into individual play.  Nobody looked good.
  • The lack of tactical adjustments to the most unusual field in MLS was disappointing.  The Rapids didn't do anything different despite playing on by far the smallest field in the league.
  • I take that back, the one adjustment that seemed to be made was using Powers to mark Pirlo out of the game.  The problem with that strategy is it took on of the 4 attacking players on the field and made him a defensive one.  Not surprisingly Hairston, Gashi, and Doyle did very little with no support.
  • The decision to start Hairston over Pappa was particularly poor in this game given that the smaller space neutralized Hairston's runs.  I know Pablo's an effort guy and Pappa isn't an effort player but we knew that we we got him.  This game was made for Pappa, if we're not going to use him here then why did we acquire him?
  • Our CB situation is killing us.  The lack of leadership on the backline without Burling/St. Ledger is a glaring hole.  One the Rapids have done nothing to fix since the preseason.
  • Viera out-coached Pablo in this one and he wasn't even on the sideline.
  • There was no active offside on the first NYCFC goal.  The player crashing the other post wasn't near the play and perfectly fit the definition of passive offside the USSF/MLS has been using.
  • Azira's first yellow was stupid.  There was no reason to make that tackle.  His second was a bit of bad luck as I don't think he intentionally made contact but it was a clear yellow (if embellished).
  • Gashi's free kick was nice, if too late.
  • Right now this season feels like its on a knife's edge.  I could easily see this as the point where we start stumbling to the finish line, finish 3rd, win an ugly wild-card game at home, and get blown out by LA/Dallas in the second round.
  • Or we wake up, make a change in the offense, get back to our winning ways, finish 2nd (I doubt our ability to win the Shield now), beat up a tired winner of the play-in game, and face LA/Dallas with a MLS Cup spot on the line.

Man of the Match: The members of C38 who traveled to NY for the game (seen above).  They deserved better.