Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Moving On From Minnesota To Salaries

And that's really all we need to say about that game.  It was that bad.  At this point other than Howard, MacMath (who was MOTM), and Sjoberg the Rapids look like a team of replacement-level players with a replacement-level coach.

So we'll move on to something a bit more interesting.  The annual salary release.  Here are the Rapids salaries.  The first number is the base salary, the second number is the 2017 guaranteed compensation.  Neither one are the true "salary cap" number but that number is usually somewhere in-between the two.

Adjei-Boateng Bismark M $300,000.00 $341,246.00
Azira Michael M $110,000.00 $116,625.00
Badji Dominique F $65,000.00 $65,000.00
Berner John GK $66,150.00 $66,150.00
Burling Bobby D $120,000.00 $126,000.00
Calvert Caleb F $100,000.00 $107,500.00
Castillo Dennis D $54,075.00 $54,075.00
Da Fonte Mike D $65,004.00 $65,004.00
Doyle Kevin F $1,000,000.00 $1,045,000.00
Ford Kortne D $69,996.00 $76,996.00
Gashi Shkelzen F $1,575,000.00 $1,668,750.00
Gatt Joshua M $175,008.00 $193,508.00
Gordon Alan F $180,000.00 $180,000.00
Hairston Marlon D-M $110,004.00 $110,004.00
Hamilton Sam M $65,004.00 $65,004.00
Howard Tim GK $2,000,000.00 $2,475,000.00
MacMath Zac GK $150,000.00 $150,000.00
Miller Eric D $75,553.75 $86,553.75
Perez Ricardo M $53,004.00 $54,254.00
Powers Dillon M $295,000.00 $325,000.00
Ramirez Juan Edgardo M $100,000.00 $100,000.00
Saeid Mohammed M $160,000.00 $170,000.00
Serna Dillon M $72,600.00 $85,600.00
Sjoberg Axel D $108,350.00 $123,350.00
Watts Jared D-M $75,000.00 $75,000.00
Williams Mekeil D $110,000.00 $115,000.00

Howard, Gashi, and Doyle only hit the cap at $380K, the rest being covered by TAM and DP money.  There are (at least) two caveats.  One, we know Minnesota is picking up part of Gatt's salary, reportedly a large part.  Second, TAM was used to purchase Boateng so we don't know how much of the $300K plus transfer fee is really hitting the cap.

Assuming Minnesota's contribution cancels out whatever additional Boateng is costing we're at about $3.6M against the salary cap of $3.85M.  So we have a bit of wiggle room after the trade with Minnesota.  All combined the Rapids have the 9th biggest salary total in the league, which is surprising, especially for the (lack of) quality w'ere getting.  Boateng's $300K is higher than I expected, I figured he'd be closer to $200K.  Azira got a deserved bump to 6 figures this year.  No real surprises anywhere else on the roster.

Some notes from the rest of the league.  Burch is making $135K and Cronin $300K this year which makes the trade $100K in our favor plus whatever Minnesota is paying of Gatt's salary.  So it did free up cap room, though we have not used it yet.  Also Jermaine Jones has the same base salary as last year but LA are giving him and addition $75K guaranteed over last year so somehow after only playing 8 games he got a raise.  Its hard to argue with the Rapids not re-signing him given that.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rapids Face Old Friends

Looney Tunes' Shirley "the Loon" McLoon

Back at it on Sunday with our first ever trip to the state of Minnesota to take on one of the expansion Uniteds.  The news this week was not good with the report that Boateng will miss 8-10 weeks minimum with a back fracture.  Combined with our other injuries and suspensions we'll see a very different lineup this weekend.  Of course, on the other side, we'll see Cronin and Burch again.  Two players we could realy use now.  Kickoff is Sunday at 4 and the game is on Altitude.

Player Availability:
Injury Report:
OUT: GK John Berner (wrist); D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery); M Nana Boateng (back)
DOUBTFUL: M Dillon Serna (calf); F Alan Gordon (hamstring)

Suspensions: GK Tim Howard (2 more games); D Jared Watts (1 game)

This week on the ever changing injury reports shows either 2, 3, or 5 Rapids listed depending on which one you read.  None are a surprise at this point.  Minnesota is missing 4 players it appears.  My guess at the XI:

To be honest though there are very few names on the roster I couldn't create a scenario for Pablo starting.  This seems the most likely but nothing really would surprise me Sunday.  Well, a non 4-2-3-1 formation would surprise me.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Badji.  Minnesota's defense is awful so we should be able to score, but our defense is a shell of what it was so I doubt our ability to stop much of anything.  Add in travel and the turf field and I don't see any points in this one.

Monday, April 17, 2017

And before you know it, we're flying backwards

Bonus points to anyone who can name the series above (which this post's title comes from)

Yep, another game, another defensive meltdown, another loss.  We've gone from a historic home defense (7 goals allowed in 34 games, a league record) to one that's allowed over half of that in just 3 games.  Meanwhile the defense averages almost a shot on goal per game less than any other team and half of the best team (approx. 2.5 to 5).  This is a team that's gone backwards on defense and offense from last season, which has lead to the worst start of Pablo's tenure with the most goals allowed in the first 5 games since 2007.

This game encapsulated the issues we're seeing this season.  Once again we had multiple chances and couldn't finish more than one of them. Full credit to Doyle for a great header for the goal off of some nice work by Boateng and Hairston.  The lack of an attack allowed FSL to push further and further forward in the last minutes of the game and our weakened defense broke.  A clear handball lead to a PK and red card for Jared Watts, followed by slopping defending from the defensive midfield and FSL waked out as the first regular season road winners at the Dick in about 18 months.

The worst part about it is that this wasn't a poor performance by the team as a whole.  The team played fairly close to their abilities.  They got sloppy late but generally this team isn't built to win in MLS this year, especially after the trade.  Pablo's coaching isn't helping but at this point we just need to accept that's not going to change.  In fact nothing is going to change until the Front Office does.  This team is suffering from the FO's decision to sit on their hands in the offseason, then dismantle the defense just a few games into the season.  Until the FO can come up with a stable long-term plan they are capable of executing this team is going to need moments of fluke runs to have any chance of being anything more than a "squeak into the playoffs" team. 

Man of the Match: Centennial 38.  The fans deserved better in a home Rocky Mountain Cup match than they got.

Friday, April 14, 2017

First Round Of The 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup

FSL, I hate these guys

Well the Howard news certainly puts a damper on this game.  Its pretty much a must win game for the hopes of this season though.  A flat game like we saw in KC and you have to start questioning what our chances really are this season.  At home against our rival I expect to see fire and better play.  Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  If you can't make it the game is on Altitude.

Player Availability:
Injury Report:
OUT: GK John Berner (wrist); D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery)
DOUBTFUL: M Dillon Serna (calf); F Alan Gordon (hamstring)

Suspensions: GK Tim Howard (3 games)

The injury report continues to be a joke.  Gordon is on the Rapids report but not MLS's, erner is on MLS's report but not the Rapids.  One uses questionable, one uses doubtful.  Needles to say, I don't think we'll see any of those 4.  I wonder if Mizell is getting an emergency callup for 3 games.  FSL has 8 players questionable or worse.  My guess at the XI:

The only real change I could see would be if Ford gets the start again but after last week I think Pablo will go back to Burling.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal  by Hairston.  This seems really optimistic but FSL might be worse than us and their banged up and on the road.  Regardless I'm not expecting stunning soccer tomorrow.  This could be very ugly regardless of the score.

Howard Suspended 3 Games

MLS has just announced that Tim Howard has been suspended for 3 games.  The Rapids have issued a statement accepting the decision.  I won't link the video here, but there is footage from the supporters section behind Howard's goal in KC of him telling a fan he had...relations...with the fan's mother.

3 games is in line with MLS's actions in the past around incidents like this.  Colin Clark, while in Houston, got 3 games for swearing at a ball boy.  Alan Gordon, while in LA, got 3 games for a homophobic slur.  I'm sure a number of fans are upset with the league for this but really the only one at fault, and the only one to be upset with, is Howard.  It was unprofessional and stupid and he's cost his team dearly.

UPDATE: Apparently MLS has unreleased footage of Tim getting into a physical altercation with a fan in the tunnel after the game.  So, yeah, really nobody to blame on this except Tim.

Get Better Soon Drew and Marvell!

Sending good thoughts out to Drew Moor today after the news of a cardiac arrhythmia being discovered.  Good thoughts also continue to go out to Marvell Wynne who dealt with something similar a couple of weeks ago. #ForeverRapid
GREAT NEWS-Successful 9 hour open heart surgery for yesterday. Looks fantastic today & plans return next season!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Other Colorado Soccer Teams and the Open Cup

With the release of the first two rounds of Open Cup pairings for 2017 I thought this was a good time to review some other soccer teams in Colorado.  We'll start from the "bottom" and work our way up through the leagues.

Azteca FC - Colorado Premier League - Azteca FC is one of 10 teams in the top level of the CPL.  The league plays their games in Broomfield and Dove Valley.  Azteca beat fellow league sides FC Denver and Harpos FC in qualifying rounds to be one of the local qualifiers in the 1st round of the Open Cup.  They'll travel to Wichita to take on NPSL side FC Wichita in the first round of the Cup.  If they win they'll travel to St. Louis to play USL side St. Louis FC in the second round.

Colorado Rush - Colorado Premier League - The Rush CPL team is the top level of the Colorado Rush club organization.  Rush beat FC Boulder of the 2nd division of the CPL and Oregon side IPS/Marathon Taverna (on the road) to make it to the first round of the Open Cup as a local qualifier.  They'll take on FC Tucson of the PDL in Tucson in the first round of the Open Cup with a trip to Colorado Spring to take on the Switchbacks awaiting the winners.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks - United Soccer League - As a member of the USL the Switchbacks automatically qualify for the Open Cup and get a bye to the second round.  They'll get the winner of the Colorado Rush - FC Tucson first round match.

Colorado Rapids - Major League Soccer - Likewise as a member of MLS the Rapids automatically qualify, and they get a bye to the 4th round.  The last two years they've hosted the Switchbacks in that round and I would expect that to continue should the Switchbacks (or any of the Colorado teams) make it to that round.

Veering away from the Open Cup for a sec I wanted to give a shout out to one other lower league team.  Kingston Stockade FC is based in Kingston NY in the Hudson River Valley.  They play in the North Atlantic conference of the Northeast region of the National Premier Soccer League.  The NPSL is roughly equiavlent to the PDL and unofficially they both kind of fill the 4th level of the U.S. soccer pyramid.  The reason I wanted to mention them that this season (their second) they're coached by former Rapids media director David Lindholm.  Stockade FC didn't qualify for the Open Cup this year sadly but there's always 2018.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Game One Of Our Rebuilding

We're not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about last night's game.  Pretty much everybody sucked and the 3-1 scoreline probably flattered us.  Our offense consisted of a good header from Badji followed by a weak roller from him in the second half, before he finally drew the PK that Doyle scored at the end of the game.  On the defensive side the loss of Cronin and Burch was seen in the disorganization of the back line.  This was compounded by the decision to start Ford over Burling, leaving Watts as possibly the most "experienced" defender.  Ford showed some good play but got burned on a couple of the goals and showed that he's still a very raw rookie.  Miller and Williams were over-matched on the wings and Howard made an uncharacteristic mistake on the second goal getting beat near post.

Instead I want to focus on something that announcers John Strong and Alexi Lalas said about their discussions with Pablo.  Paraphrasing they said that Pablo told them his new offensive scheme could take up to a year to implement.

What?  Are you kidding me?  How can Pablo think that's an acceptable thing to say at this point, and how can the organization think that's an acceptable thing to allow him to say without cleaning it up? After what the fanbase has gone through with Pablo in charge we're supposed to accept another year of "rebuilding"? Not to mention we're 6 months removed from almost winning the Shield but now we need to change our system, in a way that could take up to a year? Oh, and if we're going to change to a more offensive system, shouldn't we have, you know, signed some offensive players?

At this point it feels  like Smith and/or Pablo (more likely  Smith) wants to change the roster.  From Smith's POV it makes sense as he was working with the now-departed Bravo and didn't have full control.  He probably has a different player type in mind than Bravo did.  However this team isn't in position for another rebuild, and certainly not in the middle of a season.  We had a great (historic in some ways) defense last year.  The next step was to cement that defense and build on it, not break it up by trading off two components for the hope of young players in future years and the possibility of another signing.

Based on last night's game this team is a long ways from contending.  Great youth prospects but not a team that's going to contend this year.  For the 3rd time in Pablo's 4 years it appears the organization is playing the fans for suckers and I (and many others) fell for it.

Man of the Match: Micheal Azira.  No major mistakes, good play, and looked like he belonged on the field.  The only other placer that came close was Badji, because he actually tried to take a shot.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Border War Week Starts Sunday

Kansas to the East, Utah to the West

Hey, we're actually playing soccer again.  Its been so long I almost forgot the season started.  Its a par of border clashes in 7 days.  First on Sunday we invade Kansas, then on the following Saturday we defend our turf from Utah.  Game time on Sunday is 5pm, with the Rapids getting national exposure against Sporting on FS1.  Centennial 38 is celebrating the reopening of the Celtic at their new location (14th & Market) for their watch party.

Player Availability:
Injury Report:
OUT: GK John Berner (wrist); D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: F Alan Gordon (hamstring)

This is the (now) "unofficial" injury report from the league's site.  It could be updated when the Rapids release their game preview tomorrow.  Gordon is the only surprise on this report.  The SporKCs have one player out and one questionable.

Predicting the starting XI after the Burch/Cronin trade will be a little difficult but here's my take:

I don't expect either of our new acquisitions to start but I wouldn't be surprised to see them on the bench.  There was a rumor floating around that Boateng was nursing an injury, if so Saeid could step into that role.

Prediction: 0-0 draw.  KC has only allowed 1 goal this year and we've only allowed 3, 1 by PK.  This has the makings of a very boring, defensive battle.  If I'm going to predict one team scoring its more likely KC.

Monday, April 3, 2017

DSG Park To Host USA-T&T World Cup Qualifier

After being long-rumored the USSF made it official today.  DSG Park will host the 5th round World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday June 8th.  Kickoff will be at 5:50pm.  This will be a long trip for Mekeil Williams who will have to walk to the visitor locker room instead of the Rapids locker room.  Tim Howard just gets to show up like its a normal day of work. :D

This game is on Thursday and not Friday because Round 6 game where the U.S. will go to the Azteca to face Mexico is on the following Sunday to allow Mexico to travel to the Confederations Cup that starts on June 17th in Russia.  The other two Round 6 games will take place on Tuesday June 13th like normal.

 Of course the last time the Nats were in Denver was the now-famous Snow Clasico in March of 2013.  Unlike the 30,000 other  people who in 20 years will claim they were there, I was actually there in section 108.  I have every intention of being at this one as well.

Ticket prices have not been announced yet but the presale for American Outlaws members will be on Wednesday while Rapids season ticket holders will have a presale on Thursday.  Tickets that are left at that point will go on sale to the general public at 10am Friday morning.

EDIT: General public sale is 10am Friday the 14th, not the 7th.