Thursday, May 31, 2018

Once More Unto The Breach Dear Friends

For some reason the idea of watch another Rapids game this season reminds me of Henry V encouraging his troops into one more attack.  Its a rough job, but they wouldn't call us fans if it was easy. ;)  Tomorrow we get the Whitecaps coming to town, a team that's also looking to turn their season around.  Join C38 for a post-work happy hour starting at 4, with kickoff at 7.  Altitude TV for those who can't make it.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Kortne Ford (L MCL sprain); D Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery)


No changes there, but the real question is will there be changes in the starting XI?  Vancouver is missing Watson to national team duty and has one player out and one questionable.  My guess at the starting XI:

I really hope I'm wrong, but I expect Hudson to make small changes and be stubborn about his system and his guys, namely Boateng and Wynne.  If he does actually make changes, starts Serna and Gashi in the midfield, we might have a chance to end this downwards spiral.

Prediction: 1-1 draw, goal by Badji,  If Hudson makes real changes we can win this game, but like I said, I don't expect him to.  Vancouver is a bad team though, so even our bad team can get a point.  A point isn't enough though, and this result (should it come to pass) essentially ends our season on June 1st.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A New Low

To be frank, outside of Edgar Castillo, this team is crap.  The team didn't belong on the field with the Timbers on Saturday and regardless of how close the score looked, the Timbers didn't worry about the result much into the second half.

They had a great first goal (helped by a poor play by Danny Wilson) but their other two goals were just ripping apart a Rapids backline that it not MLS quality.  Both goals were started by horrible passes from Boateng.  Both could have been stopped if Wynne, or anyone else, had marked the back post.  As we've seen all year, that didn't happen.

After the game Hudson said, in multiple ways, that he feels that we were competitive and we're just a few tweaks away from figuring it out.  We're not.  Even with a healthy Hairston and Ford taking Boateng and Wynne's spots that still leaves a questionable Wilson, a midfield that has no consistence or creativity, and a set of forwards that coming into June aren't fit, other than Badji.

I'll be honest, this feels like a new low as a Rapids fan.  This is the second worst losing streak in team history.  The worst is a game longer and a much larger goal differential from 2014 (it ended with that 6-1 debacle in LA).  But that was the end of a season with a rookie coach with some hope we'd figure things out in the offseason (we didn't, but I didn't know that them).  This time we're 11 games into the new era of the Colorado Rapids and it feels like there's not light at the end of the tunnel.  I can't see KSE allowing another manger change (note, I'm not calling for Hudson's job, yet) since they're still paying Pablo through the end of next year and they'd still have to pay Hudson, so they won't pay a third manager.  I don't see them firing Smith (again, not calling for his job, but getting close) since they just gave him the permanent position.  Without any sign from the FO that a change in direction is coming, I have ton assume things aren't going to get much better for a long time.

Really, any hope we have rides on Friday night's game.  Currently the Bodmer Line* sits at 1.65 pts/game.  Losing on Friday would push it to 1.72 over the final 22 games.  In our best season, 2016, we played 34 games at 1.71 pts/game.  Failing to beat Vancouver at home on Friday means it would take a miracle run to make the playoffs.  I have no belief that a team that can't beat Vancouver at home has a miracle run in them.  Essentially the season would be over by the first day of June.  This is not the improved "Rapids Way" Smith talked about.

* - The Bodmer Line is the rate the team needs to gain points over the rest of the season in order to reach the average number of points the 6th placed (and final playoff) teams have accrued in the 7 years the league has played 34 games.  That's 46.5 points.  Names after C38 Grand Poobah Mark Bodmer, who helped me refine the idea.

Man of the Match: Edgar Castillo.  The only one that looked like an actual MLS player out there for 90 minutes

Friday, May 25, 2018

Rapids Try To Snap Losing Streak By Snapping Trees

Any chance to salvage this season starts tomorrow with the first of 4 out of 5 at home.  Portland comes to town on a roll so it won't be easy.  Game time tomorrow is the normal 7pm so the tailgate starts at 4.  Altitude TV for those who can't make it.

Player Availability: 
OUT: D Kortne Ford (L MCL sprain); D Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery)


Despite not appearing int he injury report Johan Blomberg has already been announced as the guest for "Tailgate Live"  in front of Eighteen36 tomorrow during the pregame, so we know he won't be available.  Portland has 4 players out and 1 questionable.

Sadly I don't expect many changes despite a lineup that's not working.  Maybe we see Gashi start, maybe we see Serna instead of Blomberg (but I doubt it) but that's about all I expect.  No Aigner in the 18, no Boli starting.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Badji.  Portland is scoring about half a goal more per game than the Rapids while giving up about the same number.  I expect it to look like a close game, the Rapids won't get blown out but I think the Timbers will largely control the game.  Colorado makes it interesting but in the end its another loss.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Rapids Visiting Old Friends For USOC

The USOC Round 4 draw was held today, which is the stage that MLS teams enter.  The other Colorado teams were eliminated in earlier rounds, including Colorado Springs earlier this week.  This left Colorado to be placed geographically in a wide E-W group stretching from Salt Lake to Nashville and also including KC.  The good news, we were drawn against USL side Nashville SC while FSL and Sporing KS play each other.  The bad news, we're going to Nashville for the game.  Date and time have not been set but we know it will be June 5th or 6th.

Nashville is in their first year as a USL team but its in preparation for an already awarded jump to MLS in 2020.  They are coached by one Gary Smith, the best coach in Rapids history.  To help him build out this new squad he brought some old hands in to help, Matt Pickens and Kosuke Kimura.  I would have loved to have been drawn at home to welcome all three back to the Dick.

I don't hold out much hope for this draw.  Historically the Rapids have never put much effort into the USOC.  Add to that a road match against a team facing their first ever MLS competition and wanting to make a splash and three key players who want to show their old team what they can do and the odds are not with us.  I expect Hudson to treat this like the CCL, a glorified friendly, and I expect a loss and a short end to our USOC run.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Well, that sucked

At least I hope Saturday was rock bottom because if we're still falling I want to just impact and get it over with.  The team was outclassed in every way.  Out coached, out played, out hustled, the Rapids didn't belong on the same field as NYCFC, or any other MLS team this weekend.

We've lost 5 in a row while being outscored 12-2.  The last time we lost 5 in a row was this time last year, and that was by a combined 7 goals.  To find a 5 game run this bad you have to go back to the dregs of 2014 and that 14 game winless run which included a 7 game losing streak that was capped off by the embarrassing 6-0 beatdown in LA.

This team is a mess and I don't see a long-term plan for getting better.  We have multiple players starting that belong in USL, a coach and a high=priced attacker who can't get along, and injuries and fitness issues keeping our best players off the field.  This season is likely already over, 4 of the next 5 at home might save up, but only if we win them all.

Man of the Match:  Anyone who watched all 90 minutes of that match (I didn't).

Friday, May 18, 2018

Colorado Tries To Break Streak In A Tough Place

Rapids looking to swamp the Big Apple

Colorado takes an East Coast trip out to Yankee Stadium to face NYCFC trying to snap a 4 game skid.  Not the easiest place for a struggling team to visit as the New Yorkers are a top-4 team this year so far and their stadium presents some unique challenges to a team not used to playing there.  Kickoff tomorrow is an odd 11am start here  in Colorado.  The game is on Altitude and C38 will be meeting at the Celtic to watch the game before the Preakness (and after the royal wedding, if that's your thing).

Player Availability:
OUT: D Kortne Ford (L MCL sprain); D Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery)

SUSPENDED: M Jack Price (yellow card accumulation)

NYCFC has one player questionable, otherwise they're at full strength.  The Rapids missing Price is going to hurt.  There's no good replacement for him on this team right now.  Since I've been out of the country I haven't been tracking who is likely to replace him.  I also don't know Badji's status but as it seems any injury of this teams knocks a player out of the starting lineup for a week or two I'm assuming he won't start.  My guess on what we see:

Gashi starting is more a hope from me, to give us some chance.  More likely it will be Aizra, or maybe Boateng in the middle with Serna at right back.  Regardless, this is not a great lineup to be going onto NYCFC with.

Prediction: 3-1 loss, goal by Mason.  This will be ugly and the Rapids will be outclassed across the pitch.  We'll get one but it won't matter as they will be the second best team tomorrow.  Honestly, I won't watch this one live.  Middle of the day right after getting back from a long trip and just before starting a new job, I have things I need to get done.  I'll try to avoid all spoilers and watch it a few hours later.

Back On The Rapids Beat

Sorry I've been quiet for the last week and a half.  I was in Hong Kong (seen above from Victoria Peak on Saturday) on vacation before I start my new job on Monday.  We'll get back to normal tonight with a preview of tomorrow's NYCFC game and the next week we'll talk about where the team is at after the first quarter of the season.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Starting players clearly worse than other players on the bench (or not in the 180.  Playing boring defensive soccer.  Multiple game losing streaks when nothing changes.  Is this the 2018 or the 2017 Rapids?  Saturday night in KC looked exactly like the Pablo-ball we all got sick of by mid-2015.  Kc should have won by multiple goals, so holding them to one is a positive to take out but right now this team looks a lot like the Rapids teams of the last few years with a bit more (largely unused) talent.

  • Kip Colvey is not a MLS player.  I know Serna has issues too but he should still be starting over Colvey.
  • Boli has been here 7 weeks and can't start over McBean?  Clearly somebody is failing.  Either Hudson is ignoring his talent or Smith signed a lemon.
  • Wynne shouldn't be starting over Sjoberg.  He's a decent bench player but there are better combinations of the back line that don't involve him.
  • Hey, Aigner, Hudson?  Get over it.  Its ridiculous that we're starting Martinez and just-arrived-in-the-last-72-hours Nicholson while Aigner can't make the 18.
  • The reason KC should have won bey 3-4 is that they had that many unmarked looks in the box.  On their one goal three different unmarked players touched the ball in the box before the goal.
  • I'd talk about our offense, but there wasn't much.  Badji had one good look that he curved outside the post, and he did a lot of the work to get that look.  Yeah, you want him to hit that shot but if our strategy to get points depends on Badji hitting his one or two looks he gets every game we're not going to see a lot  of points.  No team would.
  • After all that, Mcben actually had better statistics than Mason and Boli combined.  McBean had a shot and a shot on goal, the other two combined for one shot.  That doesn't mean I want McBean starting though.
  • Somehow Price has gone three games without a yellow card.
  • Somebody did the research.  Looking back at our last 10 road wins the 10th was in 2014.  We lost to Chivas USA, a defunct team, on the road since then.
  • Right now we're on pace to finish 1 point better than last season.
  • Until Hudson can wake up and actually put together a real MLS starting XI this team is going nowhere and likely won't be very entertaining while they do it. 
Man of the Match: Tim Howard.  Made a couple of good saves and not at fault on the goal.  Though to be honest it was really choosing the best of the worst in this one.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Cinco de Mayo en Ciudad de Kansas!

Yeah, that's about the extent of my Spanish.  After spending 4/20 weekend in Salt Lake the Rapids are spending the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla in Kansas City.  Let's hope that Sporting KC is playing the part of the French this week!  Kickoff tomorrow is at 6:30 with the game on Altitude.  C38 will be at the Celtic for a doubleheader with the Kentucky Derby.  There will also be watch parties at Blue Spruce in Centennial and Backcountry in Boulder.

Player Availability:
OUT: D Kortne Ford (L MCL sprain); D Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery); M Nana Boateng (concussion)


No real surprise on the injury front, I'm sure all three of those guys will not be available.  The question is who's not listed that won't make the 18 due to injury.  No sign that the issue around Aigner has changed so I assume he won't be available either.  KC is also down 3 players to injury so both teams start out at equal strength.

(I'm guessing/hoping we'll be in burgundy and not yellow)

We could see our new guy, Nicholson, in place of Serna and Gashi in place of Blomberg and I wouldn't be surprised.  I expected the DisCo to suspend Wynne this week but I guess he got away with that kick.  I still think Sjoberg is a better option but Hudson seems to stick with Wynne.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Mason.  KC has a better offense and defense than us and we're on the road.  These are not good combinations.  We can hang with them but given our lack of mental focus in almost every game this season I don't think we're likely to get points out of this one.  The only time we've been shut out this season though was the debacle in Sandy, so I expect we'll get at least one.  Badji hasn't scored on the road yet so I'm going with Mason.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Woke Up To A Deadline Trade!

The MLS trade deadline and transfer window closed at 11pm last night.  There was some talk about Aigner possibly being moved but nobody really expected any other moves.  Everyone was surprised waking up this morning to find out that Minnesota and Colorado worked out a deal late last night.  Defender Eric Miller and $50,000 in GAM was sent to Minnesota in exchange for winger Sam Nicholson and the international spot we need to add him to the roster (the spot goes back to Minnesota at the end of the year).  Reports are that Minnesota is picking up most of Nicholson's salary as well as taking on Miller's.

This looks like, at worst, a swap of spare parts by both teams.  Miller didn't appear to be in the plans under Hudson and he's from Minnesota so he gets to go home.  Nicholson has been playing for United and the fans there seem less than pleased about the trade but he wasn't in their plans.  If things turn out for the better the Rapids likely got the better of the deal.  I could see Nicholson in the 18 in KC with our issues at right wingback and he could rotate both at wingback and possibly in the midfield if necessary.

While we're talking about the roster we should catch up on some other loan moves that have happened in the last few weeks that I got behind on reporting due to my job search (a concern that is now solved, thankfully).  Niki Jackson and Sam Hamilton are now currently on loan down in the Springs with the Switchbacks.  Meanwhile goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra was recalled from Charlotte before last week's game with Howard suspended and Academy keeper Kainoa Likewise went to Charlotte in his place.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Dykstra return in the near future now that Howard's suspension is over.  The full list of loanees is below:

GK Kainoa Likewise
D Sam Vines
M Ricardo Perez
F Caleb Calvert

Colorado Springs:
M Sam Hamilton
F Niki Jackson

D Mike DaFonte