Friday, August 12, 2022

COL VS. COL


The former and once again Crew are in town tomorrow night after the All-Star break.  The Rapids, not having any All-Stars, are coming off a week of rest while Darlington Nagbe represented the Crew in the game (and took a hard knock).  Columbus  is on a hot streak, with only one loss  in their last eleven games (five wins and 5 draws).  Kickoff tomorrow is at the normal 7pm time, and we're into the final 10 games of the Altitude blackout.

Injury Report: 
OUT: M Ollie Larraz
QUESTIONABLE: M Jack Price

Disciplinary Report:
ONE CAUTION FROM SUSPENSION: D Lalas Abubakar, D Lucas Esteves, M Bryan Acosta

Yes, Jack Price started last week and yes, he's still on the injury list.  This time though its an upper body injury instead of the leg injury he was recovering from.


Hard to tell exactly how the midfield is going to lay out.  Price starts if he can, but I'm assuming he won't be able to.  You could see a more attacking midfield with Gutierrez instead of Priso, or possibly in place of Acosta if they want to keep the more defensive midfielder in.  Columbus is weak on the flanks so I expect Esteves, Lewis, and Barrios to start over the more defensive options there.

Prediction: 2-2 draw, goals by Zardes and Rubio.  Zardes had a less than pleasant separation from the Crew when he was traded and I think he's going to want to show them what they're missing.  That and the weakness on the flanks should be enough to keep us in the game, but I'm not sure we get over the hump for 3 points.

Cole Bassett To Fortuna Sittard

Cole Bassett is currently, well as of earlier this week, on an 18-month loan to Feyenoord in the Netherlands.  Despite a strong pre-season where he started a number of the final games and scored twice, the talk coming out of Rotterdam is that Feyenoord isn't planning to play him much this season  Recently there's been a lot of scuttlebutt about him being loaned out to Fortuna Sittard, also of the Eredivise.  They barely avoid relegation last year, so they're om the other end of the table.

Well today it looks like that talk has become all but official, as numerous social media accounts reporting on Fortuna Sittard have reported the deal as done, and Sittard's own Twitter account teased an announcement with a blurred picture that does seem to be Cole.

The interesting thing here is that Feyenoord is not allowed to loan a player on loan.  So one of two things happened.  Either Feyenoord triggered the purchase option in Bassett's loan deal, and then loaned him to Fortuna, or the Rapids and Feyenoord cancelled the loan for Basset and Fortuna Sittard and Colorado created a new loan deal.  Early reports were all sides were working towards the latter option, but that the new loan would include Feyenoord having the right of first refusal on buying Cole before Fortuna Sittard could.

Regardless of how its being done, it appears that Bassett will be playing for Fortuna Sittard this season.  Hopefully he'll get more playing time than it appeared he would be getting at Feyenoord.  Otherwise there's a team in Colorado that could use his help.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Rapids Win Sloppy Delayed Match


Last week the Rapids shipped 7 goals, but the good news is that they scored 9.  For the first time in their history they put up back-to-back 4+ goals games to pick up 6 points.  A 4-3 match isn't ideal, but as long as you score more than the other team you take the 3 points.  Now the team gets a week off at home since none of them were selected for the All-Star Game on Wednesday before facing Columbus next Saturday.

Random Musings:
  • In the last 13 minutes (plus stoppage) on Tuesday and the first 15 minutes on Saturday the Rapids scored goals.  As best I can tell, 28 minutes is the fastest Colorado has ever scored 6 goals in.
  • Game didn't start on a good note with the defense giving up a goal inside 5 minutes.  Vallecilla played a ball he could have easily cleared out for an unnecessary corner, then lost his man on the ensuing dead-ball.  Otherwise the defense was pretty tight on the free kick but it only takes one mistake.
  • Notably Vallecilla was starting in Abubakar's place.  It certainly appears that Lalas was benched after his atrocious play on Tuesday.  Its good to show the team that poor play has consequences, but long-term Abubakar and Wilson have to be the starters.  Vallecilla just isn't ready yet.
  • Colorado bounced right back with three quick goals.  Two of them were set up by throwi-ins by Rosenberry.  Dropping a ball right into the middle of the box for an unmarked Rubio, and creating a fast break from midfield for Barrios.  That's a nice little weapon we haven't seen enough.
  • With his 11th goal Rubio is now barely ahead of the pace of Conor Casey's team record 16 goals in 2009.  He's also on pace to shatter the team record of goals + assists, which is 21 held by both John Spencer and Mark Chung.  Rubio is on pace for 25.  That's without two unofficial assists this weekend where his long shots were spilled by the keeper right into the path of Zardes to finish them.
  • Colorado let their opposition back into the game right before half, again.  To be fair, this was a nicely taken goal with Esteves being unfortunately nutmegged and then Wilson's man playing a back-heel pass to himself and then taking a sliding shot just over Danny's leg and just past Yarbrough's outstretched hand.  A tip of the cap for a nice play, but Esteves and Wilson could have done a bit better as well.
  • Then the lightning hit and we sat around for 90 minutes before the second half kicked off.
  • Kudos to the Rapids for continuing to press and getting Zardes' hat-trick.  If it weren't for some big saves from Minnesota's keeper it could have been a couple more.
  • They couldn't make it easy though, giving up another goal on a set piece.  Wilson lost his man on the corner, with a bit of nice work from Kallman.  In order to lose Wilson he ran Danny into the scrum in the middle of the box and used it as a pick to get free, and the ball was placed it the right spot for him to finish after that.  Smart play by the attacker, but Wilson needs to not get sucked in like that.
  • Yarbrough came up huge after that, blocking a tying goal from a one on one with a kick save.
  • Barrios was on fire Saturday night.  When he's on, he's the best winger we have.  But, much like the rest of the team, his biggest negative this year is his inconsistency.
  • Jack Price was back, unexpectedly!  It made total sense to pull him after the weather delay, there's no need to risk injury after sitting that long.
  • That gave us our first look at Felipe Gutierrez.  He didn't do anything to really stand out, good or bad, but good to see him getting minutes already.
  • Zardes, Rubio, and Fraser all made the MLS team of the week this week.
  • The Bodmer Line is now at 1.27 pts/game, which is below the season average of 1.29.  Somehow we've climbed back into the race.  We probably needs 1.64 pts/game to feel really confident though.
  • One last thing, happy birthday to Rapids legend Marcelo Balboa!
Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes.  I mean, the league named him the Player of the Week.  He scored a hat-trick.  Its the easiest choice possible.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Duck Hunt


Yeah, I stole that title idea from the Rapids Twitter post.  What can I say, it was good!  Colorado is back home tomorrow night facing the Loons from Minnesota.  United comes into this game very week, with 3 significant players on suspension for yellow cared accumulation and another handful out with injury.  The Rapids are hoping to ride their high off the crazy comeback on Tuesday night.  New signing Felipe Gutierrez will be available for this one, though I don't expect him to start.  kickoff is at the normal 7pm for home games, and we have 11 games left on the Altitude blackout.

Injury Report: 
OUT: M Ollie Larraz
QUESTIONABLE: M Jack Price

Disciplinary Report:
ONE CAUTION FROM SUSPENSION: D Lucas Esteves, M Bryan Acosta

I've seen an unconfirmed report that Price is still a week or two out, so I'm not expecting to see him tomorrow night.  Otherwise everyone is available.


Even though Lalas had a horrible night on Tuesday I expect him to start.  I really, I mean really, hope that Fraser learned his lesson about the 5 man backline and goes back to this 4-1-4-1 formation.  With next week off since nobody made the All-Star roster and back-to-back home games so there's no travel, I don't think Fraser is going to be too worried about rotating the lineup from Tuesday night.

Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Rubio and Zardes.  Minnesota is weakened and on the road, though more rested than us.  We're coming off a high and I think we ride it to 3 points.  A draw wouldn't shock me though.

Another Transfer Window Ends With A Whimper

The transfer window closed last night.  Its not unusual for the paperwork to get submitted at the last minute and the announcement to come the next day but the move that sources were reporting as "done" yesterday seems to have fallen through late last night based on the latest rumors.  I'll state up front, if the Rapids pull a rabbit out of a hat and announce multiple moves later today I'll admit I was off base with this post and take my lumps.  But with a game on Saturday and a game preview to write tonight it was either now or sometime next week that I can cover this.

That said, let's go back to Padraig Smith's comments about this window a month ago when we traded MAK to Toronto.  At that point we had already brought Sam Nicholson back and we obviously acquired Ralph Priso in the trade with TFC.
This is not the last deal we're going to make in this window. This is the first of what I certainly believe is going to be a very active window for us, and I think really what has to be done is it has to be judged in terms of the total package of what the overall situation looks like, what the roster looks like when we're finished making those moves

Well, we can now judge what the roster looks like now that we're finished. In that active window since the comment we made one move announced yesterday.  We've acquired Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutiérrez on a short-term loan from C.D. Universidad Católica in Chile.  Gutiérrez will turn 32 on the final day of the regular season and prior to his return to Chile was a Designated Player for Sporting KC.  The book on him while in MLS was that he was a highly talented player, but quite injury-prone.  He was with KC for three seasons, but missed all of the COVID-shortened 2020 season due to injury.  In the two prior seasons he made 49 starts, putting up 19 goals and 5 assists.

Its good to bring in somebody who's familiar with the league and has had success, but he is almost 3 years older on the back-side of 30 since he played here.  He's also only on a short-term loan, and nothing has been mentioned about having an option to buy him at the end of the season.  To me, this doesn't feel like a move for the long-term and more to plug the hole in midfield caused by the injuries to Galvan, Larraz, and Price.

I don't think a short-term loan as the only move counts as "very active".  Nobody in their right mind would.  Clearly, once again, what the Rapids FO sells and what they actually deliver, don't add up.  This was a very disheartening window after some success in prior years.

Lets move on to what we were targeting in this window.  Smith said:

I think when I look at the chances we're creating, I still think we can look at our overall attacking area and say, ‘Okay do we need to bring somebody else in that's going to give us another cutting edge in the attacking third?’ That is something that we're looking at,

I think long-term we're certainly going to look to bring in another center back to challenge, and we are also now are looking at bringing in an 8 to reinforce the midfield. So from my perspective, it's really about looking at the overall group and what we've got for this year – but also what we're planning for in next year as well.

So that's 3 positions.  A cutting edge in the attack, a midfielder in an 8 role, and a center back.  And remember, this was stated after we acquired Nicholson and Priso.  So if we consider Gutiérrez the "cutting edge" that means we're still looking for the 8 and CB.  The failure to sign them wasn't because we couldn't afford it, again, according to Smith:

“We can buy players down, we've got a lot of flexibility,” Smith said about their DP situation. “We've built up a war chest over the past little while in terms of GAM as well

So its safe to say this window hasn't lived up to expectation.  The only reason for that is because the Front Office couldn't get whatever deals they had planned over the line.  I'm expecting we will hear in the coming days that they were close on a number of targets and just couldn't get the deal done, but that's a line that has been so oft-repeated that it has reached the status of cliché.  A "perennial playoff team who regularly competes for trophies", as stated in the Rapids Way, can't throw away a transfer window while they're struggling at the bottom of the table.  Not if they want the fanbase to think they really believe they can achieve their stated goals.

This is sadly, the second window in  a row where we haven't done enough.  While we've replaced the number of minutes lost (+/- 5%) from last year to now, we haven't replaced the production.  Player that have been added since the end of 2021 have 3 goals and 5 assists (all Zardes and Acosta).  Players who have left had 19 goals and 16 assists last season.  Even if you add in what Trusty, Shinyashiki, MAK, and Mezquida did in 2022 before leaving (4 goals, 1 assist, from Shinyashiki and MAK) that's only 21% of the goals and 38% of the assists despite being 65% of the way through the season.  If we had a like for like production replacement we'd have 6 more goals and a top-10 offense.  Just under half our games would have had a different outcome if we had scored one more goal.  Turning two losses into a draw and a draw into a win with 3 goals would have us right on the playoff line.

Obviously we couldn't plan for the injury bug we've had this year, especially in midfield with Galvan, Larraz, and Price missing significant number of games (or all of them).  But our failure to replace our depth over the last two windows is why we're struggling to deal with those injuries and why we're looking up at most of the league.  Coming up empty this window not only likely dooms this season, but it leaves fans questioning if we can be ready for 2023.