Rapids TSII: Pre-Season Game(s) and Early Analysis

Given the low frequency of these posts, it no doubt seems I’ve stopped keeping tabs on the Colorado Rapids. If any Rapids fans out there feel chagrined, don’t fret: I posted something on the Crew a couple minutes ago with an introduction that reads exactly the same, only with the names changed around (or does it?).

The same explanation applies here: I can’t see practices (and they probably aren’t open anyway), the Rapids have a tight-lipped presence online, they haven’t done much since the Gomez trade, etc. So, as with the Crew, I’m kind of biding my time till the regular season starts. In fact, I was going to post on the basic notion of biding my time about Major League Soccer (MLS) generally, when it occurred to me this was 1) self-evident, and 2) no one wants to read about my personal problems with soccer coverage (does anyone want to read this? Hmm….).

That said, as with the Crew, I’m going to post something – anything – on the Rapids at least once a week. A round-up, some thinly-supported observations about the road ahead: something. I’ll try to make it worth your while, but no promises.

Fortunately, a couple things showed up today (and days earlier this week) that reveal signs of life out of Colorado. For one, the Rapids played two simultaneous games against every MLS club’s pre-season warm-up favorites, the United States U-17s (seriously, is there an MLS team those youngsters haven’t played?) View from the Couch turned in a report based on (inevitably) the write-up on the Rapids’ official site. Unsurprisingly, View from the Couch’s report reads better and he flags potential injury issues for a couple players.

In another bit of good luck, I stumbled across a couple massive early analyses on Class VI. Informally polling some Rapids fans/bloggers, Class VI made an apparent stab at creating the conventional wisdom on the various parts of the Colorado Mark ’08. One clocked expectations for the (Christian) Gomez-powered midfield, while the other looked at prospects for the defense, a unit that performed very well last year and experienced little turnover. A look at the forwards is in the pipeline, no doubt, and I fully expect an invitation to participate; I don’t know why, in fact, I wasn’t invited to participate on these two… (NOTE: I’m KIDDING. All those polled look like actual fans, whereas I’m, really, just a tourist at this point with more to learn than say). Anyway, these are educational, both for the awareness of the personnel and for seeing what Colorado fans think of their team’s chances.

What do I think of Colorado’s chances? In all honesty, I can’t say I have really even thought about it. It occurred to me today that I’ve essentially reserved judgment on anything to do with all MLS clubs’ regular season performance until after the March 3 roster cut-off. Too many things remain in flux and, empiricist that I generally am, I feel like too many variables remain in play. In fact, March 3 looms rather large in my head. I’ll start cranking out previews and generally prognosticating shortly after, and not just for the Crew and Rapids, but for all MLS clubs. So, look for ’em then.

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Crew TSII: Pre-Season Tilt in SLB

Given the low frequency of these posts, it no doubt seems I’ve stopped keeping tabs on the Columbus Crew. If any Crew fans out there feel chagrined, don’t fret: I’ll be posting something on the Rapids with an introduction that reads exactly the same, but with the names changed around.

The hard reality is, there’s not much to report where Columbus are concerned. Back in early February, it seemed a day didn’t go by without something coming out on the Crew. As February creeps toward March, however, there’s little more to talk about than which trialists didn’t stick around (as mentioned in the Crew “section” of the sprawling off-season report I posted earlier, neither Lars Ricken nor Roman Friedli will join the team).

There’s something deeper at work as well. I know the Crew well enough, but without first-hand access, which would allow for sitting in on practices, etc. I’m sorta stuck waiting for the games they play to make it to TV – and that’s not going to happen until the regular season. They will play a pre-season game tonight, this one in San Luis Obispo against the San Jose Earthquakes, but it’ll be learning-by-match report on that one. And that’s never a favorite for me.

At any rate, I think/hope I’ll have more to say about the Crew – what makes them tick, where they’re short on the field, who’s taking up space, etc. – when the regular season hits. And sometime before the season, I’ll go nuts with team previews, weighing strengths and weaknesses, etc. But that’s something for mid-March. For now, all I can do is pass on what I’m reading on Covering the Crew…and a smarter fella would just go there. But until March and the regular season, I will post on the Crew at least once a week. A weekly wrap is better than nothing, after all, and it will help keep me current.

The Penultimate Off-Season Progress Report: Best…Off-Season…Ever…

The latest report on all off-season player moves among Major League Soccer’s (MLS) clubs appears below…well, at least the ones that interest me. I’ll work with the same categories as last week’s edition, though, with the March 3rd roster reckoning coming down the pike, I’m going to have to start tracking the players who get axed…if only half-heartedly. By that I mean, I’m going to ignore waivers of say, Chris Loftus for New England. But any move that strikes me as “big enough” will get record in this and, to a greater extent, future editions.

All that said, I want to throw one bold thought out there: for my money, this has been the BEST OFF-SEASON in MLS history. More exciting/intriguing player moves, more movement in general, teams coming into the season with enough question marks over their heads that you almost have to watch the games to form a serious opinion of what it all means – or maybe it’s just that we finally have sufficient coverage. There’s a potential downside getting some airing, especially where all “them furriners” are concerned: e.g. with so many exports coming in, what will happen to the development of the American player? Marcelo Balboa treated the subject a couple times through a Q & A with USSoccerplayers.com – and it’s an interesting subject, even if a wait-and-see approach strikes me as the right one.

All I know is I’m in drunken piggy heaven herding all these cats. Wonnerful, wonnerful.

Enough about my joy. All the movement I saw (or cared about) appears after the jump. Contrary to past practice, I’m ditching links to the current rosters; all y’all know where to find ’em if you want ’em. As always, if I missed anything big, feel free to correct the record, by flagging omissions in the comments field or emailing me (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com). I will make the change and give due credit. Here goes… Continue reading