Monday, August 30, 2010
Since last year, Conor's game has taken a bit of a nose dive. He began this season with a couple of decent performances, but has had abysmal finishing for most of the year and hasn't seemed capable of putting together more than a single good looking play on the pitch all season. Up until the Rapids last game, he was stuck with seven goals and three assists - good for a paltry first and second place on the team respectively. Up until the last game Conor was in a rut, but it might be safe to say that he may have broken that rut spectacularly on Saturday.
In Commerce City on Saturday the Rapids best striker managed a three point game, getting a goal and two assists. In fact, he was close to a five point game, with a goal being robbed from him by a great save from Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad and another missing the net by literally centimeters. He looked strong on the ball all evening, looked confident with his passing and shooting and started to resemble the Conor Casey of 2009 a ton more than the latest buggy model. (He's like Windows, one version is awesome and then they release Vista and you can't get it off your computer back to XP because you already paid for the new one and it won't let you reinstall the old version. I realize that extended metaphor lasted about a sentence and a half too long.)
The stretch run for the Rapids really could use the fantastic version of Conor Casey from yesteryear, so if he can keep up his performance like he did against Houston they'll be gold. They say you just have to get hot at the right time in order to win a title, Conor's picking a fine time if he can just keep it up.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
RapidsSoccer Casey's goal ties is his 37th all-time, tying John Spencer for second most in #Rapids history, he's now two away from top spot.A fun conversation on twitter right after Casey got his goal to make it 3-0.
GCSblog @RapidsSoccer The jumbotron said he tied Bravo at 39.
RapidsSoccer @GCSblog they got ahead of themselves. The graphic was made in case it needed to be used. about 2 hours ago via web in reply to GCSblog
GCSblog @RapidsSoccer Keep it handy the way this thing is shaping up, we may need it.
Edit: Seattle won 2-1. The Rapids are in 5th place in the West as a result.
The carnage started out only two minutes in, when Jamie Smith knocked his first ever MLS goal off of diving Houston goaltender Pat Onstad - it continued as Lovel Palmer got a horrible red card off of a violent crash with Pablo Mastroeni in the 10th minute- only 14 minutes later Omar Cummings took a perfect cross from a streaking Conor Casey and put it away for a 2-0 lead. Casey got on the board as well in the 23rd minute after heading in a rebound from a shot by Mehdi Ballouchy. The scoring stopped after that, but the domination didn't. Houston had very few chances the entire game while the Rapids kept on shooting.
Ian Joyce got his first ever start at Goalkeeper for the Rapids, Matt Pickens was out with back spasms. He got his first save on a fantastic close range diving stop on Brian Mullan. Marvell Wynne may have been injured halfway through the game as well, getting replaced by Danny Earls as he stretched his hamstring on the sideline.
The 'Pids take on Chivas USA next week at home.
Man of the Match: Conor Casey. Two assists and a goal for Captain Denthead, nice to see him getting into last season's form just in time for a playoff run. In fact, he easily could have had a hat trick along with his two assists if not for a fantastic Onstad save and a shot that went left by literally less than an inch. Honorable mention to Ian Joyce for his first start being a clean sheet.
Goat of the Match: N/A. Great game all around, except for maybe Mehdi Ballouchy's sub-par game. Even that wasn't as bad as we're used to seeing from our goats of the match.
Houston is five points behind the Rapids in the standings, stuck in seventh place. The Rapids are currently in sixth place, but to show you how close the middle of the table is, a win and the three points that come with it will launch the Rapids up to fourth with a two point lead on Seattle and San Jose, assuming both teams lose today. (San Jose is playing New York and Seattle is taking on Chicago. In our best interests, we root for a New York victory and a draw between the latter two teams, both of whom would catch up to the Rapids playoff spot with a win.)
Houston and Colorado last met in June, the last game that the Rapids have managed to score more than a single goal. It was a 2-2 draw in Houston. Until that last game against Chicago, it was the last game that Houston had scored two or more in as well actually.
Along with the whole "Rapids not losing at home" thing, the category of meaningless, random statistics are in the Rapids favor here as the Dynamo haven't won two consecutive games in a row for well over a year; they beat the Fire 4-3 in their last league action. Go Rapids, keep that streak alive!
Instant Replay - A new MLSsoccer.com feature looking at disputed calls from the previous week, two Colorado/Columbus plays included.
Real Salt Lake's Mexico City Collapse - A piece on RSL failing hilariously after taking a 3-1 lead against Cruz Azul. Any USMNT fan will appreciate the Robbie Findley trashing.
MLS' Next Imports - It's both nice to hear (we're not losing anyone!) and disheartening (we have no one worth losing) that no Rapids make that list.
Keiran Cain - The Ultimate Fan & Employee - God speed on your next job, Keiran!
Hunt: Columbus vs. Dallas will be tough to watch - OH BOO HOO YOU POOR LITTLE MAN HOW WILL YOU EVER SLEEP
U.S. Soccer, Juergen Klinsmann talking - Yes plz
Friday, August 27, 2010
If he plays in that game it will be his 18th cap all time for his national squad.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Houston's poor form thus far this season has left them a place behind the Rapids in the standings, stuck five points from the nearest team to them and embedded in seventh place in the West. Brian Ching hasn't had his usual scoring touch at forward for offense-starved Houston, and a small bit of injury bug has also been plaguing the Orange boys from Houston this season.
They do have a player (backup goalkeeper) named Tally Hall though, which is a pretty awesome name no matter what sport you play.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
His son is taking over the teams and their budgets to keep him out of this rule, which has raised some fairly valid concerns over how the new guy is going to handle the teams. Tightwad spending, possible moves away from Denver, a lot of problematic ideas have come up out of the twisted and frightened Denverites minds. This is especially funny because a lot of St. Louis fans have become fairly paranoid that Stan only bought their team so that he could immediately move them to Los Angeles. (Didn't they already try that?)
Luckily if not a bit insultingly, MLS is not considered major in the world of American sports, so they can continue to be under Mr. Kroenke's rule, even if it's only because he's not actually aware that the Rapids exist or that he owns them.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
He'll play in a Rapids scrimmage against Regis University on Wednesday morning.
Edit: courtesy of Pid Army, here's a video of our new guy in action.
I like to think it's what he would have said anyway. Translations are below. Be warned, they're slightly NSFW if you're reading them aloud.
UZ: So, Mr. El Piojo-Claudio: Por favor, llámame Claudio. *
UZ: Oh, all right, Mr. Claudio. How are you enjoying Colorado so far?
Claudio: Es la mierda toda de madera que tienen que sentarse en cada partido? Porque eso es lo que parece. Ah, y las montañas son un poco demasiado bonita, aunque un poco más difícil respirar a cabo aquí con el aire más delgado. No le digas a Gary Smith me dijo eso, me bloqueo en el sótano de nuevo como lo hizo para todos los otros juegos porque él piensa que soy demasiado viejo para jugar más de 3 minutos por partido. **
UZ: All right, I'll keep it a secret. Do you not like coach Smith then?
Claudio: Me gustaría considerar que imposible entender la cabeza Inglés de su derecho de su cuerpo poco flaca y cohetes que en la red desde 30 metros sólo para mostrarle que hay alguien en el equipo que realmente sabe cómo hacer eso sin perder la red como es la parte ancha de un granero. ¿Eso responde a tu pregunta?
UZ: Yeah, his head is pretty round so that'd probably work. How long do you think it will take before you score your first goal as a Rapid?
Claudio: Bueno, yo dudo que seguiré jugando en el 2015 por lo que probablemente nunca en la tasa va esto. ****
UZ: Sounds good, Claudio. Thanks for your time.
Claudio: Coma mi polla.*****
* Please, call me Claudio.
** Is the entire fucking thing made of wood that I have to sit on every single game? Because that's what it seems like. Oh, and the mountains are kind of pretty too, even though it's slightly harder to breathe out here with the thinner air. Don't tell Gary Smith I said that, he'll lock me in the basement again like he did for all those other games because he thinks I'm too old to play more than 3 minutes a game.
*** I would like to take that impossible to understand English head of his right off his scrawny little body and rocket it into the net from 30 yards out just to show him there's someone on the team who actually knows how to do that without missing the net like it's the broad side of a barn. Does that answer your question?
**** Well considering I probably won't be playing in 2015, probably never at this rate.
***** Eat my dick.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Just off the top of my head, Conor Casey missed several games with a bad head injury. We're still missing out on any possibilities of seeing what former first round pick Ciaren O'Brien can do, him being out all season. Colin Clark has suffered another ACL tear. Even Claudio Lopez was out for a while, not that he would have gotten any playing time anyway.
For some teams injury problems like this don't matter as much because of a wealthy talent pool of depth. Teams like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York can lose a player or two and still go strong. Not so with the Rapids. Here's the three positions that the Rapids are going to need to work on gaining some talented depth in, if not grabbing a couple of starters to eventually or immediately usurp the group of players we're already starting there.
Center Back: I'm not nearly as high on Julien Baudet as the rest of Rapids nation seems to be. I personally think he's a really cool guy and not a terrible third option, but him being our every-week starter in the middle of the defense is unacceptable. Sugar-coat it all you want, but the man has literally handed two goals to the opposition on a silver platter, both of those games eventually winding up 1-1, one of them against a very much weaker team. With an offense as anemic as ours the Rapids can't afford him as the center-back. Drew Moor is great but past him the depth in the middle of the defense is very lacking. Marvell Wynne could probably slide over in case of injury, but we'd still be stuck with Baudet starting.
Striker: Quincy Amarikwa is not a good soccer player. He seems to fall down every time the ball gets near him, he's even worse at finishing than our already questionable other strikers, and he basically can't get by anybody unless he can outrun them. And yet... he was the starter when Conor Casey went down. Andre Akpan is an unknown commodity who doesn't look like someone ready to usurp the spot of Casey or Cummings should either choose to leave. The two strikers we start on a weekly basis aren't great, but the depth behind them is even worse.
Wide Midfielders: The center of the midfield is actually the strongest part of the team, which probably helps the outside midfield look even worse. With Colin Clark out of the picture we're basically stuck with only four players ready on any given day to start on the outside. Mehdi Ballouchy, Wells Thompson, Jamie Smith and Claudio Lopez. Dismissing Lopez because he'll never start a game again, the other three are very lacking in skill. When Wells Thompson is the class of your group, you're probably in trouble. If the Rapids go out looking for another player before the roster freeze, getting a wide midfielder is probably where they'll need to go.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Just watching this team you can see easily that the Rapids are possibly the least clinical team in front of goal in the league. Every single week seems to throw us another horrible miss that any good goal-scorer would scoff at. Conor Casey's late post against Kansas City. Omar's whiff in front of goal at Seattle. Pablo's near miss in Philadelphia. Most recently, Omar beating the entire defense and then missing the net yesterday. All of these came with the goalkeeper not in the net or completely out of position, but the Rapids could never finish.
Past Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, our defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz probably has the best finishing on the team this season. That's right, a defensive midfielder with two goals is one of the more clinical members in front of net of this team. If you're thinking "How can he be better than anyone else, he's only got two goals," recall that the only player other than our strikers with more than two goals is Mehdi Ballouchy with a paltry three, one of which came off a PK which might as well not count.
For supposedly being one of the "top offensive pairings in MLS," our strikers and just about everyone past them sure haven't been playing like that. The Rapids could really use somebody who knows how to get the ball into the net.
And no, Claudio Lopez doesn't count because I'm still not sure he's not just a figment of our imagination caused by a mirage on the bench every week.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The game started out menacingly with Matt Pickens committing a stupid foul - and I consider any foul by a goalkeeper in his own box stupid - which basically handed the Crew a free goal only 6 minutes into the game. After that quick blow the Rapids never really recovered, playing badly all over the field and finishing like a crippled high school team.
Omar Cummings and Marvell Wynne had the best two chances of the half back to back, both of which had the goalkeeper beat but missed the net, Omar's especially horribly. Pablo Mastroeni finally managed to solve the Crew's defense off of a great pass from Mehdi Ballouchy, which snagged him his 6th career goal. They went into the half tied at two, but that was the only high point the Rapids would see.
The second half started with a very strange downpour, which stopped Colorado dead in their tracks but didn't seem to hurt the Crew. Columbus' Jason Garey scored two quick goals, one of which came off of a stupid play by Matt Pickens off a Wynne header, one of which was called back - although probably incorrectly - offside. His offside goal wouldn't wind up mattering because his eventual sub Steven Lenhart scored an easy goal in the 80th minute off a set piece which put the final nail into the coffin.
Colorado hasn't come back to win from behind in four seasons, and tonight's didn't help that statistic at all.
Man of the Match: Pablo Mastroeni. Netted a goal for himself and played fairly well on the defensive side, not being really involved in any of the goals scored.
Goat of the Match: Matt Pickens. Two of the goals can be directly attributed to Matt, you can't hand out free goals, especially if you're the goalKEEPER!
Conor Casey will probably be the starter at striker alongside Omar Cummings, since his head appears to be fine now aside from that giant dent. Seriously, was that there before? I swear that wasn't there before. As I pointed out earlier today, Claudio Lopez may have a shot to get some major minutes or even a spot start today. Look for him either going in at striker if Casey decides he's not feeling 100% after all, or more likely at the left midfield spot opposite (I assume) Wells Thompson.
Colorado actually has a chance to sweep the 'season series' against Columbus if they can pull out a road win today, they beat them earlier in the year at The Dick 1-0 off of a late header goal by central defender Drew Moor. A win would also keep them more afloat in the playoff standings, although a loss against an Eastern team won't sting nearly as bad as it would against, say, FC Dallas or the like.
Either way, go Rapids!
Owner of Colorado Rapids has no Recollection that he Owns Colorado Rapids - This would be a lot more funny if it wasn't probably true.
More Academy Player News - More youth in the Rapids system getting the eye of national clubs.
Vote For the Rapids idea for the Pepsi Refresh Project - Pablo Mastroeni wants you to help fight hunger by voting for the Rapids to win the $50K.
MLS Player Salaries: Crunching The Numbers - Some cool analysis of salary numbers in MLS.
Crew's Consistency concerns traveling Rapids - Gary Smith is concerned about taking on one of the best teams in the league, and for good reason I'd say.
More than one team was after Cummings - Apparently Mexico isn't the only place the Jamaican striker was wanted.
"It opens up the opportunity for other players to get more time, possibly in Wells, Jamie and Claudio, who himself is extremely frustrated. I fully understand [López's] position. He wants more time and more football."
Claudio has seen very little time on the pitch this season, nursing an injury for part of it and seeing only spots of time in relief late in games as an offensive spark in the games that he's been healthy for, only 129 minutes total in seven appearances out of the 19 games that the Rapids have played.
The closest thing to a Designated player on the Rapids roster - he actually was a DP salary wise for a good chunk of time in his pre-Rapids MLS career - Claudio has certainly proved throughout his very impressive career that he is worth at least 30-45 minutes per game if not a spot start at either striker or left-midfielder.
With the fanbase crying for him to see more playing time, our coach seems to have come around to that idea as well. At least, the crying fans can hope so!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo has recently hinted that my assumption that we won't be seeing any new faces not named Davy Armstrong any time soon may be incorrect, though. In his own words, when asked about new players; “But we continue our search.” To be fair, this was said after he stated that he was comfortable with the group of players that the Rapids already had on the pitch on any given day, but him leaving the option open is a lot better than we can say for Jeff Plush's negative speech about designated players.
With the team sorely lacking in goals and their leading goal scorer Conor Casey barely looking at a chance to match half of his goal-scoring total from last year at the rate he is going, the Rapids are in dire need of grabbing an offensive player or two. Good to see Paul Bravo sees that. And unlike Jeff Plush, he knows that there is occasionally a need for a bit of risk-reward playing even if it threatens the bank a little bit;
“There is risk and at times you have to take risks; how long does that player take to adapt and really make an impact in the team. We have to take those things into account.”
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Their offensive leader on the pitch is veteran forward and one of the first DP's to ever enter the league Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who has netted five goals and seven assists on the season so far. Their defense ain't bad either, they are currently one of surprisingly only TWO teams in the East that have a positive goal differential with 9 along with Chicago, whose positive GD is only +1. (There's three teams if you count zero as a positive number, Toronto FC has a nil GD.)
Columbus is currently up in a six point lead with New York for the Eastern conference lead, although with Los Angeles tearing it up this season it doesn't look like the Crew will be able to get a third straight supporters shield.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Neither have played a minute yet for the Rapids - although Davy couldn't have since he just now joined the team - and neither may any time soon. Davy's youth and Anthony's lack of match fitness and recent experience may be keeping them from getting major minutes, but it doesn't help that the positions they play are already saturated with players, not all bad players either.
Anthony Wallace has already been on the team for several weeks now, ever since the game against his former team Dallas in fact. He has been kept off of the team though, with the recent use and success of using Kosuke Kimura as the teams new usual starter at left-back. Past him, Danny Earls had a fantastic first half of the season being backed by Scott Palguta, so it looks as though Wallace is being firmly stuck at third or so in depth at the position. With the fantastic play of Marvell Wynne it's not looking like Wallace is going to sneak over to the right side of the defense either, barring injury.
Davy Armstrong is a central midfielder, which unfortunately for the new kid is quite possibly the most well-equipped position on the pitch for Colorado. Captain Pablo Mastroeni and all-star Jeff Larentowicz have both been playing magnificently as a pair in the center of the defense this season. Unless Gary Smith goes back to a 4-5-1 or decides he doesn't want to play two defensive midfielders in the middle of the 4-4-2 any more in order to add some offense, there's very little chance that Davy is going to get in except as a substitute for one of them. If could also play on the outside of the midfield, the Rapids could certainly use the help there with Colin Clark injured and Jamie Smith not playing as well as he usually does recently.
Hopefully they both get some playing time soon, because the Rapids cannot add anything else from outside the MLS itself until the end of the season.
Here's the story, straight from Omar's mouth;
Cummings is the second leading scorer on the Rapids this season and has been in just about every single game either as a forward playing midfielder in Gary Smith's 4-5-1 formation or as a striker in Smith's 4-4-2. He spent a game as the lone striker in the 4-5-1 during Conor Casey's absence as well. His five goals are second on the team, he also leads the team in shots on goal with 19.
“A week before I officially learned of the interest, one of our players, (Chris) Sharpe, said, ‘Omar I hear that you’re going to Mexico.’ I had not heard anything, and he said he’d read it on some website. I didn’t think anything of it.
“The Sunday after we played the game against Houston (June 26), when we were coming back, I was approached by a guy at the airport. He said he came to watch me from the Mexican club, and came to personally ask me specifically if I would ever want to go play in Mexico. Because they could basically make an offer, going through MLS, but then what if I still didn’t want to go? So he personally wanted to know if I would be willing to play in Mexico.
“I said, ‘yes, I would be willing to play in Mexico.’
“He told me he’s from that club (Necaxa), that they had been in contact with MLS, and they had been looking at me for some time, and that they would very much like to add me to their roster for next season. He said that’s all he wanted to know, and then said, ‘See you in the next few weeks, in Mexico.’
“The next day, I texted my agent and asked if he had heard anything about this guy that approached me. He got in touch with MLS and it was for sure. The team had made a bid to MLS and Colorado, but so far they (MLS / Rapids) didn’t think it was good enough, but it was on-going.
“They made another bid, and the process was on-going until they (Necaxa) decided to go a different way.”
When asked if he was disappointed at the result, he was quoted as saying "It's kind of mixed-" so I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, Omar will remain a Rapid for at least the rest of this season with the transfer window now closed. And that is most certainly a good thing.
Monday, August 16, 2010
It's official, history has been made, in the Rapids version of history anyway. Davy Armstrong is the first ever youth player to graduate from the Rapids Academy to the first team. Congratulations, Davy!
Davy played his high school ball with Rangeview, winning Colorado Player of the Year in 2008 as well as leading the minor league Colorado Fusion to a title. The man - a central midfielder - knows how to score and plays good all over the field.
The Rapids academy has been running for three years now, their star student Davy joined the force in late 2007, playing for the U-17 and U-18 Rapids teams while getting slapped with the MLS-recognized title of 'homegrown', keeping him away from the MLS Superdraft and keeping him inside the Rapids organization until the day he graduated - that day being today!
Here's a quote from Gary Smith, sounds like this kid is not only legit but is going to work out great in the Rapids system;
“At 18-years of age, Davy has already proved after training with our first team for a number of weeks this summer that he not only has the physical qualities that will certainly lend itself to progression and development in MLS, but technically he is also very proficient. More importantly, for a young player he has an outstanding attitude and mental focus to get the job done. I believe now that we have Davy in this environment full-time, we will see a much more polished and professional player ready for the first team.”
Get him out there, Gary. We need that talent and how!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Congratulations to Davy and good work by the Rapids to get him to sign on the dotted line. I'll probably have more on him when that press conference occurs tomorrow.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
This one was pretty bad all around, the Rapids may have been lucky to even get the result they wound up with. As long as they keep getting points it's all right, but not every team is going to be as weak as the Union from now on, for sure.
The game started off slowly, with neither team getting very good chances in the first half. Matt Pickens was forced to make a couple of athletic saves but he didn't face much of anything dangerous from the Union's offense. The Rapids only managed four shots in the first half, none of which were actually on target. Both keepers could probably have taken a nap and not missed much of anything.
In the second half, a scrum in the box led to Jeff Larentowicz getting an obstructed shot on goal, which he shot through the wall of players in the box like a bullet for his second goal of the season. It was a great game all around for Jeff, who was playing a homecoming of sorts, as he is from Philadelphia. Danny Mwenga equalized as Julian Baudet missed an easy tackle on a cross from Sabastien La Toux late in the half. After that there was pretty much nothing on either side.
Player of the Game: Jeff Larentowicz. Fantastic game all around. Good challenges and a great shot.
Goat of the Game: Julian Baudet. Ugh. That's two games in the last three that he's singlehandedly given the other team a goal. At least he didn't put it in his own net this time!
Helpful for the Rapids: The Union are playing on short rest, they had a very well played game against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. Hopefully that took all the fight out of them and the Rapids will be well-rested enough to prevent another hard fought 1-1 draw from coming out of them.
Conor Casey is back, giving the Rapids a fine 1-2 punch now at striker should Gary Smith decide to retain the 4-4-2 formation from last game that saw the Rapids play so very well. After the season-ending ACL tear, Colin Clark will most likely be replaced on the left side of the midfield with Wells Thompson or Jamie Smith. You all know I'm hoping for Thompson, of course.
It's an early one today, at 2 PM mountain time. Go Rapids!
Clark says that he will be coming back and continuing to play soccer after his knee heals again, with surgery and rehab most likely taking another 7-8 months off of him again.
He will undergo surgery to fix the knee on Monday in California.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Armstrong - a central-midfielder by trade - is a damn good goalscorer with over 50 in his high school career and has skills you don't normally see in an 18 year old. He was named the Colorado high school soccer player of the year at Rangeview in 2008 and helped lead the Colorado Fusion to a title in 2006 as well. Throughout this year he has been training with the Rapids first team and now the Rapids are approaching him to go pro right out of high school.
What's keeping him from doing so? Washington. Not the president, the state. Davy has been approached by the University of Washington to play some college ball there for a scholarship. If he chooses that, we won't see him on the Rapids - and boy could we use him - any time soon.
This quote gives me a little hope though; “My drive was always to make it and to go pro, and it’s right here in my hand, pretty much." I certainly hope you lean that way, Davy.
Part of their miserable season thus far has been their defense and goalkeeping, who haven't been able to put together a clean sheet yet and boast together a 1.86 Goals Against Average, good for worst in the league. That's 33 goals given up in 18 games, also the most in the league. Even the fantastic offensive play of midfielder Sabastien Le Toux - who has nine goals AND eight assists on the season - hasn't been enough to drag them out of the losing ways they've drug themselves into in the first place.
They do have bitchin' cool kits though, so that's something!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
That incredibly uninspired 2-0 loss to Brazil was just another of the seemingly hundreds of nails littering the coffin that many USA fans have been trying to stick Bob in for just about as long as he's been the head coach of team USA.
There's certainly no shortage of blah moves he's made with the team, over and over again. He's always seemed to utilize the overrated Jozy Altidore no matter how good or bad he has played. The world cup was just full of Altidore moments that made me cringe with the sting of failure. I hate to scream nepotism, but Michael Bradley was showing up at just about every team as well, again regardless of amount of skill he'd been showing.
Obviously something must be up with his coaching style as well, what with the teams unfortunate tendency to give up goals within the first 15 minutes of the game. If that team didn't know how to be come back kings, they wouldn't even have been in the Round of 16 - where they also gave up a goal almost immediately, I might add - in the first place. Also, two words - Ricardo Clark.
But this isn't supposed to be a list of things wrong with Bradley, that would take all day! Besides, there's entire blogs dedicated to the bashing of Mr. Bradley. I'm just here to say and pray that hopefully that game against Brazil will be Bob's last, with him being linked to a job with Aston Villa. Please?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Last time these teams met was way back in the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa back in 2009. It was not a game to remember as a US fan, the Yanks got ahead 2-0 on some fantastic play by the team all-around and then managed to have one of the worse second halves I've ever seen a team play and not only blow the lead but give it up in the last few minutes as Brazil won 3-2 and left the US fans sighin' as usual. I doubt we'll see a win here for the good guys, but hopefully the States give us something exciting to cheer about. Ideally not a 2-0 lead that they proceed to blow, though.
No Rapids players are on the roster for today's match up, not that anybody expected them to be. Conor Casey and Marvell Wynne were both on the roster that almost defeated Brazil in the Confederations Cup, getting a staggering two minutes of playing time between them in that game. (wee!)
The teams kick off in New Jersey at 6 PM Mountain Time.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Citizenship is a bitch, to be sure.
Tuesday and Wednesday mark the first days of big international friendlies since the end of the world cup, including a showdown between the USA and Brazil. The game Omar Cummings was focused on was his homeland of Jamaica taking on Trinidad & Tobago, which he was called up for duty for. Unfortunately with his green card paperwork in the process of being approved, he's not allowed to leave the country. Maybe good for the Rapids, but sad for the guy.
I'm waiting for Conor Casey to reveal he's actually from Istanbul or something and will be deported so he can't score any more goals for us, the way this season has been going for our players.
No, I have no idea why I picked Istanbul as my country of choice. Probably because I can't spell Czechoslovakia without using the spell check feature on my firefox.
There are twelve games remaining on the docket - that's just under three full months worth of games - for Colorado in the 2010 MLS schedule. Here's what they need to do if they want to finally get into the playoffs and try for that elusive MLS Cup; Real Salt Lake proved last season that all you really need to win the cup is to show up! (Having a team that isn't totally dysfunctional helps, but baby steps here.)
First of all, we have to point out that the first four spots of the playoffs - I'm talking division leaders - might as well be set in stone by this point. Columbus and New York in the East, Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake in the West. Toronto could make a run and overcome New York, but I think the Red Bulls are way too strong a team to falter like that. So this article will be assuming that the Rapids will be battling for one of the remaining "top 4 elsewhere" playoff spots available.
Last season the Rapids barely missed the playoffs with 40 points and a 10-10-10 record. Real Salt Lake wound up getting in with the same point total but better goal differential. On that note we'll assume that the Rapids will need a minimum of 42 points to get into the playoffs this season. If they started today, they would actually be the final seed to get in with their 27 points, copying last year as five teams from the West would make it in, as only three East teams have better records than Colorado. Let's see if we can get to that 42 points in the remaining games.
The games that remain for the Rapids break down like this:
* Six home games
* Six away games
* Six Western conference games
* Six Eastern conference games
* Six games against Contenders*
* Six "gimme" games*
As you can see, dead even on every front. Six of just about every category I can think of here. Frankly, the scheduling is fairly kind for the Rapids at the end of the season I think. The Rapids never have a road trip of more than two games and get shots at a bunch of weaker teams down the stretch and will also have plenty of chances to beat their Western rivals along the way as well. Whether or not that's a good thing is a wash. On one hand they can make their own destiny, on the other hand losses to Western teams could be killer. The thing that it looks like to me is that there will be at least six games that will be very winnable for the Rapids in one way or another.
So with the win against San Jose, what are the chances they make the playoffs? Here's three situations that will make it easy to see that the win against San Jose will be the final push to get the Rapids chances up.
Situation 1 (The "Rapids turn into Manchester United" situation): Let's assume they win all the "Gimme" games that I put up there; the Rapids end up with 18 more points from those games, for a total of 45. No draws, all wins. That right there is an automatic playoff berth, pretty much. Even a couple of draws and wins among the remaining six games would be enough to push their chances from in to "higher seed" in.
Situation 2 (The "Rapids play like they did all July" situation): Let's say the Rapids draw every single game from now on except for two. So 10 draws and two wins. That's STILL 43 points right there. Even substituting losses for three of the draws gets us 40 points, which is enough to sneak in as the last playoff seed most years... last year being the best example obviously. (No, I'm not bitter at all!)
Situation 3 (The "Situation" Situation): Lets say the Rapids split their final 12 games right down the middle, and go 4-4-4. That's also 43 points, easy money.
Basically, the Rapids need four more wins minimum to make the playoffs as long as they can keep their tendency to fight out tie games going. Can this team do it? I think they can. So that's my prediction after the hard-fought win at home against San Jose. The Rapids WILL make the playoffs this season.
*By "Contender" I mean everyone that I think has a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. In this case, everyone except for Philadelphia, New England, DC United, Houston and Chivas USA. Games against those five teams were labeled the "Gimme" games. Talk about parity in the league, I was surprised that only five seemed out of it to me!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Colorado started in a 4-4-2 tonight after weeks of speculation that they would, dating back to the Kansas City game. Former Quakes player Quincy Amarikwa started at striker with Omar Cummings, Conor Casey didn't dress today as his head continued to bother him. Outside midfielder Colin Clark had the first real chance of the game for the Rapids as he rang a sliding dive-shot into the woodwork, Omar Cummings had a near-miss shortly after that.
The Rapids scored as Jon Busch took a pass off of Omar Cummings in the 25th minute and... well, remember this?
Pretty much that all over again, this time by Busch. The entire supporters terrace chanting "We all just want another Robert Green" to the tune of Yellow Submarine was a hilarious cherry on the top. That would turn out to be the only goal as the Rapids defense did an impression of themselves earlier in the season, holding San Jose to very few shots and even fewer going anywhere near Matt Pickens, who earned his first clean sheet since way back in June.
The biggest - and really only - lowlight of the game was starting midfielder Colin Clark getting knocked down with what looked like a potentially serious knee injury. He gave a clap to the crowd as he was being carted off, frustration and sadness in his eyes. Poor guy can't catch a break, get better soon Colin!
Man of the Match: Omar Cummings. Yeah, I should have gone for the Busch joke but I only put Rapids players here! Omar had the goal (technically) and was in great position to make plays and good shots all night. Way to keep the striker position dangerous out there, Omar.
Goat of the Match: Quincy Amarikwa. Everyone played well today, but Quincy seemed out of position, slow and indecisive with the ball on his foot until he was subbed for Claudio Lopez late in the game. Still, nobody really deserves to be a Goat when the team plays this well. Even Quincy with his fairly shoddy play managed a couple of neat passes now and then.
This game will prove most likely to be incredibly important in determining final placements in the West, as San Jose currently sits only a single point down from the Rapids with the number of games left in the season quickly starting to dwindle. Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake seem to have the first and second spots in the West locked down, so the final two spots will require some fighting for.
Conor Casey will probably sit out again as that concussion he suffered in Seattle continues to bother him. If coach Gary Smith runs the 4-5-1 as usual, we'll most likely see Omar Cummings in the forward spot along with perhaps Anthony Wallace's first start as a Rapid in the Left-back spot on the defense. Smith could also start his version of the 4-4-2 with either Claudio Lopez or the now back from his loan Andre Akpan alongside Cummings.
Colorado hasn't beat San Jose since they came back to the league from their hiatus in 2008. They last met all the way back on May 1st, as the Quakes squeaked out a 1-0 win off a goal from Chris Wondolowski.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Before the Dallas game last weekend I said, "I really hate the phrase 'must-win games' because it makes the games seem even worse when you inevitably lose them, but this game against FC Dallas and the following game against the San Jose Earthquakes are inching dangerously close to must win territory." Is it really that dire yet though? After the draw with Dallas, it might well be.
San Jose and Colorado go into their game tomorrow seperated by only a point between 4th and 5th place in the West. Had the Rapids beat Dallas, they would have had a comfortable lead on San Jose and a good catch-up on Dallas, leaving room for error - by error I mean another draw with SJ, losing would still hurt them - but drawing with Dallas left them in a bit of a spot. A loss for Colorado will knock them backwards into 5th place by more than a point, something they cannot afford to do if they continue to draw more games than they win or lose. The fact that they have been gaining so many points from ties is probably the only reason they're still in contention at all, actually. So is the rest of the season going to be a bite-your-nails sort of time where a loss could mean certain doom? It will really depend how the Quakes game goes.
I still hate using the term "must-win" to describe games, but considering how this Rapids team has played this season, falling down to 5th place in the West will probably spell the end for them. Yes, the San Jose game IS must-win.
(Or at least must-draw.)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Rapids are winless in their last seven, with five of those being draws. San Jose has one win in their last eight, that win coming via a visit to a very weak Philly team. In other words, this one is a wash. Two struggling teams going neck in neck in the standings, this game should be fun. SJ is 6-5-5 right now with a game in hand on the 6-5-6 Rapids, only a point behind Colorado in the standings.
SJ does have one statistic completely on their side in this match, though. Since returning to the league in 2008 after their slight disruption away from it, the Rapids have never defeated the Quakes, at home or otherwise. All time, the Quakes also hold the advantage in record. Being at The Dick should help the Rapids out at getting their first win in who knows how long... at least I hope so.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
With Conor Casey still suffering from the head injury he suffered against the Sounders, Akpan adding depth to the team forwards couldn't have come at a better time. No word on whether or not we'll be seeing him against the Earthquakes on Saturday.
Gary Smith did say something that seemed to hint we would be seeing him soon;
“He’s an option for us again, fresh off the back of some games, he’ll be sharp and he’s match fit. Whether he’ll be involved is another question, but there’s no doubt about it, it’s great to have him back.”
And how could you not like a guy who knows the Fresh Price of Bel-Air theme song from memory, eh?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Plush: We have had dialogue and we are currently having dialogue. It has to make sense on two fronts. It has to be good on the pitch and good off the pitch; it has to make sense businesswise. It is hard to draw them to Denver and it is a long process but relationships are being formed.”What really gets me is the idea that there is no "evidence" of DP's actually helping teams out. He knows Juan Pablo Angel is a DP, right? 56 goals in three and change years on the Red Bulls as well as an all-star appearance. That's not "evidence" of helping? Landon Donovan falls under the DP rule as well. You know, that guy who is leading the league in assists and has 69 goals in only 135 appearances for the Galaxy? I'd say there's plenty of evidence that a DP can be a team changer in this league.
We made a very real, credible and frankly aggressive offer for [Jared] Borgetti in 2007. We had started that process a long time before [the offer]. [Owner Stan] Kroenke has been clear on it. He would always support what we want to do if it made good sense. He gave us the go-ahead for Borgetti. [The former Mexican National Team striker signed with Cruz Azul instead.] We would have been one of the first to have a DP. Not much has changed. There’s just more activity around it.
There is certainly more of a race to sign players in the last few weeks, it’s really accelerated. I would love to see there is enough evidence that [such moves] would be competitive. We haven’t seen that yet. RSL is a prime example of winning without a Designated Player, without necessarily the highest payroll. You win with 24 players. I think it’s interesting chatter. But the clubs who are successful in our league tend to be clubs that have a team mentality, a team spirit, a Houston or an RSL.
I disagree with his idea of "winning without a designated player is possible" being a good reason to not get one as well. Sure, RSL won last season's cup without a designated player and are on a good path to winning this season as well, but look at some other top clubs. Los Angeles, New York, Seattle... You don't need a DP but it certainly does help. I understand holding steady when every other club seems to be signing one but there's a reason everyone else in the league seems to be signing one. Not signing one because you'd be bending to the popular style doesn't work.
The Rapids are not a championship team as it stands right now, in my opinion. They have a good but not great offense and a great but mistake-prone defense. That's not a championship club, that's a club that squeaks into the playoffs, maybe has a surprise upset and then gets crushed in the second round. The Rapids need goals, and goals come not from a "club mentality" but from talent. The Rapids have some talent, but not nearly enough. A DP might not be the answer, but it certainly couldn't hurt at this point, Mr. Plush.
Monday, August 2, 2010
With the stout defense being the talk of most of the Rapids coverage this season compared to the mediocre and disappointing offense, a lot of people were expecting a move for a big offensive power in the midfield or to play at striker opposite Conor Casey. Even Gary Smith seemed to spend a while hinting that he was searching for more creativity on the offense. Therefore, it was a bit of a shocker to see the only trade out of the Rapids camp being a Left back.
It makes a little more sense than you might think. The defense was indeed incredibly stout at the start of the season, but in the last month or so it has begun to sink a bit in the stoutness department, especially in the left-back position. Danny Earls had held the position down well all season, until a couple of bad plays led to him getting subbed out quickly against Toronto for Scott Palguta. The next game Palguta started, but played just as badly and got subbed out for Earls. Earls also started against Seattle but had to be pulled for Kosuke Kimura in the second half. If Earls can't hold down the position as well as he needs to, Wallace could provide an answer.
Wallace has only made 15 total MLS appearances since being drafted by Dallas after coaching changes, injuries and bad play on the pitch combined to keep him on the bench. He missed the U-20 world cup after tearing up his knee as well, which didn't help him and kept him off the football pitch even more than usual, after which he lost just about all his time in Dallas once again while other players stole his spots. The move to Colorado should provide him the first-team football he's been looking for.
Gary Smith obviously believes that the offense is due for a rejuvenation now that Claudio Lopez is back, so he's pulling a Colorado Rockies and keeping it as is at the trade deadline. Or maybe Wallace will be played as a striker!
Hey, anything could happen. :/
Sunday, August 1, 2010
The Bad News: One of them was on the wrong net.
Defender Julien Baudet wound up scoring on the Rapids net in the 22nd minute, the only goal that the Rapids would wind up letting in and as usual, a team killer. They equalized in the 26th minute as Mehdi Ballouchy took a penalty kick after one of the most blatant handballs in the penalty area you're ever going to see by Atiba Harris, who probably should have gotten a red card for the infraction. Seriously, watch it and tell me that wasn't the most blatant on-purpose handball you've ever seen.
Not helping matters - Conor Casey didn't play yesterday with the head injury still acting up, and Jeff Larentowicz played minimal minutes after being in the All-Star game.
Apparently a boy-scout meeting made the starting time for the game earlier, causing the heat to
play a factor in the game and hurting the Rapids overall. Never did like them boy scouts!
Man of the Match: Mehdi Ballouchy. PK's are usually gimme goals, but the Rapids need all the goals they can get and Mehdi got one.
Goat of the Match: Julian Baudet. Naturally the guy who scores an own goal is a shoe-in for this.