Monday, June 4, 2018

Record Setting Night

Credit to Michael P for the picture

With another loss on Friday night the Rapids tied their worst ever losing streak (7 games) and their worst ever home losing streak (4 games).  The latter was set in 2001, where the league played a 10 minute golden-goal overtime and 3 of the 4 losses back then were by 1 goal.  So there's a very good chance this is the first time the Rapids have been losing at the end of 90 minutes in 4 straight home games.  (The 7 game losing streak was in 2014).

We could spend time rehashing the game but there's no point.  Its generally the same issues we've seen all through the losing streak.  While not as bad as the NYCFC or Portland games it still wasn't great and our opposition was significantly weaker than those other two teams, which might be the reason.  Our season is over.  The Bodmer Line is now at 1.72, which is higher than our pts/game average in the great 2016 season.  This team is not making the playoffs.

Instead I want to make one point, and one suggestion.  I've been thinking this weekend about what's gone wrong and how to fix it in the short-term.  By "what's gone wrong" I don't mean this season, I mean over the last few years it feels like for the most part the Rapids haven't even been competitive.  Colorado (2016 aside) has never been great, but for a long time we were solidly average.  Lately though we haven't even been that.  So I decided to take a look at the point totals across the league over the last few seasons.  I decided to start with 2012.  After the 2011 season Gary Smith's contract wasn't renewed, Jeff Plush was fired, Tim Hinchey was put in charge, and that was the start of the Rapids attempting to move up to "MLS 2.0" (or whatever you want to call it).  This was the era that brought in DP's, affiliations with Charlotte, homegrown players, etc. and it feels like an obvious line to draw between the "old" Rapids and "new" Rapids.

Total points since 2012:
RBNY: 355
Kansas City: 345
San Jose: 287
Toronto & Chicago: 275
DC: 271
Montreal: 266
Philly: 263
Colorado: 256
(this only includes teams that played in every season from 2012 to now)

That's right, the Rapids have been the worst MLS team since 2012.  99 points behind the leaders RBNY.  31 points behind the next closest Western Conference team.

Clearly all the attempts at #OneClub, "attacking soccer, and The Rapids Way have been failures.  Say what you want about the quality of "MLS 1.0" but at least we were competitive.

So, how do we fix this?  Long-term the options are obvious.  Sign a competent coach and let him build a decent roster.  We also know that's not going to happen for a couple of years at least.  So working with what we have, here's my suggestion:

1. Do whatever it takes to get Aigner's salary off the books during the summer transfer windows.  Let him go on a free, trade him for peanuts, whatever.  Freeing up the salary cap space is more important than anything we could get for him.
2. Drop the obviously failing 3-5-2 and go back to a 4-4-2.  Either GK is fine (I'd go with MacMath just to mix things up), Defense: Hairston, Ford, Sjoberg, Castillo:  Midfield: Price, Blomberg, Nicholson, ? Forward: Badji, Boli
3. Use the freed up cap room and the DP spot to sign a #10 to fill the hole in midfield this summer.  This will hurt KSE but they need to do something to get out of this hole.

The downsides to this plan are the amount of money on the bench (Howard, Smith, Wilson, Gashi, Mason) and the ability of Castillo and Hairston to play in a flat back 4.  I think they're better as wingbacks.

The upside is that I think this roster can at least be competitive in games.  We won't make the playoffs regardless but we won't be embarrassed.

If the #10 signing is a bridge too far the Rapids could also move to a 4-3-3.  Play Badji, Boli, and Mason up front, put Price and Azira in midfield with somebody like Blomberg (or maybe Gashi) in front of them, and use the same back line.  This lineup won't be as strong but still better than what we're seeing.

Man of the Match: The baby bird that entertained 108 for the first 15 minutes of the second half.  He had great positioning in our defensive half, moved well, and was able to avoid any fouls by being run over by Vancouver attackers.  Generally a better performance than we've seen from anyone this season.

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