Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Playoff Clinching Scenarios

After tonight's results our playoff clinching scenarios this weekend become easy.

The Rapids clinch a playoff spot with a win OR a draw

That's it, a loss means we can't clinch this weekend.  The fastest way to clinch without winning is two losses KC or Seattle (not two losses between them, two losses by one of them).

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rapids Surrender 2 Points By Not Caring


Badji scores 8 minutes in

Azira gets a yellow, suspending him next game

The rest of the half

Vancouver scores 6 minutes into the second half

Vancouver gives it back 6 minutes later with a PK and a red card

Gashi scores the PK

Vancouver scores in the 70th minute down a man

5 minutes later Gashi hits a stunning free kick goal

Vancouver ties the game again down a man in the last minute of stoppage

This team (coaches and players) has been coasting on the results from the first half of the season.  Nobody is stepping up and driving this team to a win in crunch time.
Man of the Match: Shkelzen Gashi.  Two goals makes this an easy choice.  First multi-goal game from a Rapid this season.

Friday, September 23, 2016

54' 40" Or Fight!

Rapids. Whitecaps. Its going to be wet.

A final trip to Canada, at least in the regular season, is up tomorrow for the Rapids.  Vancouver is barely holing on to playoff hopes and a loss combined with an KC win would all but eliminate them this weekend.  Meanwhile the Rapids need a win to stay in the Shield race.  Game time tomorrow is 5pm on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Bobby Burling (toe); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear); M Jermaine Jones (quad)
QUESTIONABLE: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); F Kevin Doyle (toe)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (5 games until good behavior reduction); M Micheal Azira (4 games)

The only improvement from last week is Doyle is at least Questionable now.  Still, not great.  Vancouver is down 3 players to injury.

Starting XI Prediction:

I'm really hoping we see Gashi on top but I wouldn't be socked by Badji.  Otherwise I think Pablo is going to "stay the course" on the lineup as much as possible.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Hairston.  Vancouver has the worst defense in the West and an average offense.  I think, even on turf, we can gt a point out of this game but our play has been so uneven of late I'm not confident in a win.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rapids Saved By Other Team's Failures

The Rapids threw away a great chance to take a leading role in the end of the season by playing overly defensive and with a lack of talent on the field in a 0-0 draw with San Jose Saturday night.

Pablo's stubborn determination to stick with the 4-2-3-1 in every circumstance and his belief that effort in practice trumps talent is killing this team. Sometimes you just have to put the talent on the field if you're going to be better than the other team.  Calvert gets more time than Pappa, really?

In 2015 everyone in the FO agreed our issue was a lack of offense and they said they were going to go get offensive talent this offseason, and they actually did. So why are we starting all the same offensive players from 2015 save Le Toux? Gashi and Pappa need to be starting at this point because the 2015 crew isn't getting the job done.

All that said, the players that did start didn't seem to be putting out the practice effort that got them the start. Badji's woeful ball skills killed two one on ones a decent striker would have scored. On the first he decided to round the keeper and then touched the ball less than arm's length from the keeper making it easy for the keeper to redirect it and force him into a bad angle. The second he decided to beat the keeper on the shot and shot right at him. Powers just kills attacks. Hairston's touches were all over the place. Cronin keep shooting long and not getting it past the first guy. Gashi's two shots were very very bad. Poor coaching, poor effort, poor talent on the field.

We could have all but wrapped up a top 3 finish with a win tonight and put real pressure on LA, Dallas, and TFC to keep up with us. Instead we wasted another 2 home points. At least I shouldn't have to worry about the Shield race. Any team that can't beat the Quakes at home shouldn't be winning the Shield.  However Dallas, LA, and Toronto all drew as well so the Shield race is exactly where it was before this weekend started, so we still have a great opportunity.

With FSL losing and both NY teams getting draws our chances of claiming a CCL spot went up slightly this weekend.  Toronto is now a heavy favorite to win the East and send that CCL spot to the best American team who hasn't qualified yet and there's a better chance now the top 3 teams in the West will be the already qualified Dallas (through their USOC win), LA, and us.  So the two CCL spots for regular season finish are more likely to go to LA and us after this weekend's results.

For the first time since I've been tracking it the Bodmer Line has gone to 0.  47 points is the average point total for the 6th placed team in a 34 game season so we've done enough for a playoff spot.  In reality it looks like the 6th placed team will have less than 47 points this year so we're really looking at probably a top 3 finish, maybe 4th at the worst.
Man of the Match: Sam Cronin.  This is partially for a decent game on Saturday, at least he was trying to put shots on goal, and partially for a general recognition of his good play this season.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Play To Win

Pretty sure I've used this one before

Tomorrow night we start the critical final seven game run to the playoffs.  We still have a shot at the Shield, the top spot in the West, or a CCL spt (or possibly all 3).  The run has to start now with a win over San Jose in 24 hours.  The problem?  We're 0 for our last 13 against SJ and 0 for our last 10 against them here in Colorado.  That streak has to change tomorrow.  Game time is 7pm so the tailgate starts a 4.  Altitude will have the broadcast with Fleming and 'Celo.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Bobby Burling (toe); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear); M Jermaine Jones (quad); F Kevin Doyle (toe)
QUESTIONABLE: D Sean St. Ledger (knee)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: M Micheal Azira (5 games until good behavior reduction)

Nothing good about that list.  While Doyle, Serna, and St. Ledger are no surprise everyone was hoping Burling and Doyle would be available.  San Jose is missing 5 players to injury with former Rapid Amarikwa listed as questionable

Starting XI Prediction:

There's actually a number of ways Pablo could go.  We could see Gashi up top with Pappa (or Powers) in the hole behind him.  We could see Pappa on the outside or Powers at d-mid.  We could see Watts in the middle of the back line and Miller outside or on the bench.  This is my best guess though.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Gashi.  SJ has a worse offense than we do so even missing Burling I think we get a shut out.  The real key will be finding a winning goal against the 3rd best defense.  Two great defenses, two bad offenses, this won't be thrilling soccer.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What's The Point Of The Injury Report?

Like all major leagues (at least in the U.S/Canada) MLS has an official injury report that teams are required to keep updated.  Well required may be too strong a word.  Heavily encouraged seems to be as far as MLS is going at this point which brings us to the question.  What's the point?

Really the injury report serves two purposes.  Its an official record of players who are out for other teams to reference and it helps gamblers.  Really that's all its for.  So why does it matter to the rest of the fans?  Well for one, in a league that gets less media attention it give the fans an idea of what's going on with the teams.  Secondly, its (in theory) an accurate update of the current player status which prevents rumors from getting started and spreading.

A couple years ago MLS made a change to their injury report.  Instead of Out, Doubtful, Questionable, and Probable they reduced it to Out and Questionable.  Ever since then the reports have become less timely and less accurate, and its gotten particularly bad this year.

A month ago when we played in LA the week before Keane suffered a head blow and to the fans it was pretty clear he was concussed but LA said nothing about it until the day before our game and even then Arena said he was just going through a protocol when asked about availability for our game (he never mentioned concussion). Keane did not appear on the official injury report at either or the Rapids game preview. Keane didn't play, then the next day there was an article about him being in the concussion protocol.

When we played in Salt Lake there was no news about Hairston or Le Toux being injured. They weren't listed in the injury report in either location. Yet the Rapids knew about it enough ahead of time to recall Calvert from Charlotte and Doyle from the Springs and have them dressed in Sandy for the game.  This past week Gashi and Hairston were injured but never appeared on a injury report.  It was just Serna, Jones, and St. Ledger listed before the game.  St. Ledger has been Questionable for a month and has yet to dress.  That seems more like Out to me.

A few years ago MLS took this much more seriously.  In what I believe would have been Beckham's last appearance in Colorado he didn't travel but LA didn't list him as Out for the game.  Turns out he had a back issue (or he didn't want to travel, something Beckham seemed to do at times).  MLS slapped LA with a fine for not reporting him as Out.  I think what has happened is when MLS made the change in the injury report they started letting teams update them on their own instead of having a central person do it.  The listings for each team are updated at different times and they use different formats.  It seems like multiple people are doing it, which allows each team to be as open or not as they want.

Right now the injury report is worse than not having one.  It spreads incorrect (or at the least, incomplete) information and leaves fans with more questions rather than less.  MLS would do better to make it private between the teams if they aren't going to fix it.  Leaving it as it is just leads to confused fans and the start of rumors.  That doesn't help anyone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rapids Get Great Ugly Win

Well, that wasn't pretty but it was effective.  A game of shutting down every Dallas chance and hoping we get lucky worked and Colorado left Dallas with 3 huge points.  I'm not saying we're back in the race yet but the possibility still exists after this result whereas any other result would have eliminated it.

General Impressions:
  • The game really boils down to one stat.  Dallas had 7 shots on goal.  Colorado had 1.  Ours went in.
  • Given the starting XI this would not have been the expected result.  No Pappa, Gashi, Jones, or Burling due to injury and Doyle on the bench.
  • Hopefully the injury Doyle picked up late isn't serious.
  • Williams needs to take over the starting role from Miller.   His play has not been good.
  • Howard came up big on a couple of saves.  Fun to see him playing in burgundy.
  • Le Toux with his first assist!  Hopefully the first of many.
  • Overall though, this was not a pretty game to watch.  Take the 3 points and run!
  • We now have 2 wins and 3 draws in our last 5 games against Dallas, going back to the beginning of 2015.  Both wins in Dallas.  That's twice as many wins in Dallas in the last two years than the rest of the league combined (LA won there last year).
  • Colorado now controls its own destiny, the only team that does so.  If we win out we win the Shield and the overall #1 seed in the playoffs.  No other team can say that.
  • We are still 5 points back overall but with two games in hand we can overcome that deficit.
  • We have the 3rd easiest schedule left, with no game against a team in the top half of the league.
  • All that said, if I had to bet now I think Toronto is the most likely team to win the Shield.  They're 3 points ahead of us and we have 1 game in hand on them.  They also have the easiest schedule left and have 5 of 6 at home due to their road trip to start the season while the stadium was undergoing renovations.
  • If Dallas wins the USOC tonight (and in the 50th minute the odds look good) there's now a very good chance that we'll get the CCL spot that goes to the Supporters Shield winner though.  A Canadian team can't get the spot (they get their entry through the Canadian Championship) and no team can claim two entries.  Any Canadian or duplicate spots go to the bet regular season team to not already have a spot.  That means if Dallas wins the USOC and the top 3 in the Shield standings (in any order) are Dallas, Toronto, and Colorado, Colorado would get the Shield spot.  Those top 3 are the most likely top 3 in the Shield, while the only team that might get in the way is LA.
Man of the Match: Dominique Badji.  While its probably fair to say Howard was the best player, we've had a solid defense for a while.  Finding a way to get a goal was the key to this game and Badji pulled it off.  We may look back at it as one of the key goals of the season depending on how things turn out.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Last Chance To Turn The Season Around

Last time we were in Dallas...

Three weeks ago I wrote about how important this 5 game run was.  I said to achieve our reasonable goal (at that point) of a top 2 finish and a shot at the Shield we needed to show up for these 5 games because the run-in after that was an easier schedule.  Well in the first four of those games we've managed 2 points and seen Dallas pull away from us and LA and FSL start breathing down our necks.  Our last chance to get out of this tailspin and salvage any chance at the Shiled (and probably a top 2 finish) comes tomorrow night in Dallas.  A win and we're back to within 5 points of Dallas with two games in hand.  A loss and we're 10 points back with 7 to play on a 3 game losing streak.  No chance to catch them at that point.  A draw is pretty much just as bad putting us 7 back with 7 to play and a 3 game winless streak.  A loss also puts us within .02 pts/game of LA and FSL, dependent on what they do tomorrow.  A win is almost a must if we want our best ever top 2 finish and a playoff bye.  Game time tomorrow night is 7pm and the game will be broadcast on Altitude.

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

Dallas is missing just Lloyd due to concussion issues.  It sounds like from all reports that Jones is out for this one.  I also doubt we'll see St. Ledger.

Starting XI Prediction:

I'm assuming with Miller's play and the fact that Williams was apparently good enough to go 90 in a WCQ that we'll see him start but I could be wrong.  I also can't rule out Pablo going back to putting Powers into Azira's spot, though that's the wrong move.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Gashi.  I don't have any faith that this team isn't in a death spiral right now and playing the best team in the league on the road isn't likely to change that opinion for me.  If we can win, or even get a non 0-0 draw, I'll start thinking we've turned things around but until them I have to assume a loss.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Rapids Lost In New England

Pablo puts out the best possible lineup given injuries and absences:

Revs score 12 minutes in:
Our defense on that goal:

Powers just misses and then has a shot saved:

The Rapids don't get another shot the rest of the half:

Colorado gives up another PK:

Revs miss the PK, making teams 0-3 in the last two games:

Revs score 4 minutes into the second half:

The Rapids get one shot on goal in the second half:

There go our chances for some sort of home-field advantage in the playoffs

Man of the Match: The goalpost.  Kept it from being 4-0.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Unofficial Jameson's NIght

North Bridge, location of the 'Shot Heard Round the World'

Officially Jameson Night is only when the Revolution come to Denver.  We wouldn't want to jinx that by holding it in some other scenario but if some fans were to tip one back unofficially tomorrow I don't think the Rapids would refuse some Irish luck in New England.tomorrow night.  GAme time tomorrow is 5:30pm and 'Celo and Fleming will have the call on Altitude.

Player Availability:
OUT: M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
QUESTIONABLE: D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Jermaine Jones (quad)
UNAVAILABLE: GK Tim Howard (USA), D Mekeil Williams (T&T), M Marco Pappa (Guatemala), F Shkelzen Gashi (Albania)

Orlando has one player our and 5 Questionable, plus 2 away on international duty.  We know from yesterday's news that Jones will not be available, I assume we won't see St. Ledger either.

Starting XI Prediction:

Bench: Berner/pool GK, Badji, Calvert, Castillo, C. Doyle, Watts

We'll have to recall Pfeffer or Greenspan from Charlotte in order to have a full bench, which I think is unlikely.  The lineup seems pretty obvious based on who's available.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  The missing attacking power + travel + turf means the Rapids won't get a goal.  The Rapids almost intact D + NE's sputtering offense means the Revolution won't get a goal.