Rapids TSII: (Borrowed) Line-Up Theory

View From The Couch (VftC) pieced together a plausible starting XI for the Colorado Rapids from a report on an intra-team scrimmage. This came, as all communications regarding the Rapids, from official sources.

By combining what looked closer to the first team from the two scrimmage squads with who he expects would take their place under ideal conditions, Jason Maxwell came up with the starting line-up listed below:

Bouna
Kimura – Petke – Erpen – Burciaga Jr.
Cooke – Mastroeni – C. Gomez – Clark
Kirovski – H. Gomez

And, for the record, Mr. Maxwell’s reasoning for including Jovan Kirovski are less to do with his preferences than insight gained from bitter, bitter experience.

The question, then, is the extent to which this is a functioning, even winning, line-up. Kirovski causes problems right off the bat, of course, but it’s the defense that really gets me scratching my head. I’ve never been even kinda, sorta sold on Facundo Erpen as a defender. Add Petke, who, as much as I view him as the pick of this bunch, isn’t a world-beater, and Jose Burciaga Jr., and one gets to wondering how many goals this bunch will surrender. A review of the roster unearths a couple options – Brandon Prideaux, certainly, as well as Dan Gargan – but the question of which players constitute upgrades on those named above follows quickly thereafter. Maybe this is just one of those things that must be tried and tinkered with between pre- and the early part of the regular season…and don’t tell me the regular season is too late; the playoff format means it’s virtually never too late. Continue reading

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SuperDraft Scouting: The Colorado Rapids’ Weak Hand

As anyone watching this space knows, I adopted two of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) original teams for the 2008 season: the Columbus Crew and the Colorado Rapids. Today, I’m going to make a stab at figuring what each team can or should do ahead of and/or during Friday’s SuperDraft. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll start with the Rapids.

And why would that be simpler? It could be down to the seeming absence of trading news coming out of Denver; the contrast with the comparatively hopping Ohio scene rather nicely sets up my planned narrative for the season. It could also be that I don’t see them getting up to much between here and Friday evening. I’m not alone in that: read through Steve Davis’ article for MLSnet.com about how unpredictable the smart set expects the ’08 SuperDraft to be and look for Colorado’s name; I know I didn’t find it, not even in the refuse heap acknowledged as “other teams?”

MLSnet.com hasn’t yet updated the order on the SuperDraft to reflect the latest (at least not that I know of), but the press release/article they sent out Monday showed Colorado with picks #5, 36, 47, and 49. That, however, may no longer hold: a somewhat stealthy aside on Soccer by Ives mentioned the Kansas City Wizards sending Jose Burciaga Jr. to Colorado in exchange for a pick. And, as I speculated in an earlier post, I’m guessing – or, rather, hoping for the sake of Burciaga’s ego – that the Rapids coughed up that #5 pick. So…assuming the Rapids did give up the #5 pick, that leaves them with picks #36, 47, and 49 – e.g. short of finding the Hope friggin’ Diamond in the rough, that’s not a lot to work with.

(UPDATE: In the comments, J Five passes on word that Colorado traded for a 2009 draft pick; further, arguably more direct, confirmation appears here.  Thanks to him for that. Given that, pay more attention to the stuff below that assumes the Rapids held on to the #5 pick. Don’t think that changes the big picture all that much, but, as they say, it beats a kick in the head.)

The next question is, what are they needs? Here, we have a couple things with which to work. First, there’s a “Murphy’s Law” column written by Rapids assistant coach John Murphy, a piece in which he gives away little more than a stripped-down draft-day philosophy. Other, more detailed thoughts on team-by-team needs come from an ESPN piece by Jeff Carlisle and, well, me in the form of my review of Colorado’s 2007. Here’s what we have/had to say, starting with Carlisle (who, y’know, pays more attention and takes less license with content, so do lend him your ear): Continue reading

Colorado Rapids 2007 Season Review: The Difference between “Playing” and “Eating”

Colorado Rapids
Record (W-L-T): 9-13-8; 29 GF; 34 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports

Overview
It seems fitting somehow that I should approach a review of the Colorado Rapids 2007 in the same almost aggressively feckless manner in which the Rapids’ front office runs the team – e.g. not reading the match reports, but operating from memory. I understand this isn’t logical, but, given how they run their team, neither is the continued existence of the Rapids. This review also involves an element of the personal; after all, in my 2007 Western Conference preview, I wrote “I see great things coming out of Denver this year.”

Obviously, this is not what happened. In fact, some of the worst things came out of Denver in 2007. Colorado not only missed the playoffs, but managed to violate standards of aesthetics along the way. This was supposed to be a great year in Colorado, if for no better reason than the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a soccer-specific stadium to call to home. Apparently, the memo about playing at The Dick as oppose to eating dick, failed to reach the relevant parties. Is it any wonder that enthusiasm seems in shorter supply in Colorado than in any other MLS market?

All right, all right. Time to talk about games. Optimism – Colorado fans’ and mine – was somewhat justified till around June. The team started a respectable 4-2-3 with the losses coming to Western Conference powerhouses like the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas (OK, maybe not the second so much). The team had a colossal forward in Panamanian Roberto Brown, who seemed ideally suited for latching onto crosses from Terry Cooke, who either led or tied for assists in 2006. With Bouna Coundoul providing incredible value at ‘keeper the trade that swapped ‘keeper Joe Cannon for Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu looked all upside.

And then, at some point – it matters so little when that I’m not going to look it up – Roberto Brown was shipped off to wherever they send out-of-shape players and, possibly around the same time, Gomez went down. And when Gomez fell, the Rapids offense collapsed with him; stars from yesteryear – players like “Nico” Hernandez, Jovan Kirovski, and Jacob Peterson – picked up too little of the slack to register. If there’s a silver lining in all this, it comes with the arrival of Toronto FC: had they not been around and sucking eggs on offense everyone would have noticed that Colorado beat the goal-scoring nadir set by the Columbus Crew in 2006; Colorado scored only 29 goals over 30 games, just edging out the Crew’s earlier league record of 30 in 30 games.

In their defense, the Rapids had a defense of which they can be proud: only Houston and Chivas had a better defensive record and Colorado’s finest tied Supporters’ Shield winners DC United. And it’s not like the team stood pat amid the problems. Clavijo scrambled up a couple of acquisitions like forwards Daniel Osorno and Conor Casey. Unfortunately, discussing roster changes leads to the one Clavijo got very wrong: sending Kyle Beckerman, a centerpiece of the team, to Rocky Mountain rivals Real Salt Lake in exchange for Mehdi Ballouchy, a whisp of a midfielder who, for all his “skillz,” is still finding his feet as a pro.

All that may read a little harsh. Moreover, I can’t claim to know a hell of a lot about the Rapids because, any time past May, every time I started to watch them play, I wanted to stop shortly thereafter. Continue reading

NE 1 – 0 Colorado: “You Do This, Tricky Pony!”

 (* The title gets explained all the way down at the bottom.  I bury leads with the best of ’em.)

Not even a late goal could retrieve the game that struck me as the snoozer of Week 26.  Only the most rabid of partisans would call New England’s win over the Rapids anything like just or deserved.  There is justice of a kind in the fact that neither team really gained, though: New England’s performance sends them into the playoffs sailing into the wind, while Colorado looks less like a playoff-bound club with each passing week.

Returning to an old tradition, I watched this one…a little sideways.  Just for the record, fortified wine can come in some surprisingly clever containers.

The stream-of-consciousness “half-dead” blog follows, typed now as I wrote it down then…in a steadily deteriorating hand.  Oh, I use parentheses and, um these thingies – [] where I feel like explanation is necessary.  Here goes: Continue reading

MLS Team News, Week 23: Injuries, Tactics (Sorta), Rising Stars (Sorta)

Welcome to my first crack at posting team news from all-’round Major League Soccer (MLS). What comes below will be by no means exhaustive; really, it’s only a compilation of what I bumped into during my travels. And, of course, anyone feeling I made a grave omission is welcome to correct that in the comments; by the same token, tips and mentions to reports are also welcome, so’s I can post those in future editions.

And, yes, I’m aware that I’m starting this feature appallingly late in the season. Without further adu…shit, habit…without further adu – dammit! seriously, it happened again – without further ADO, enjoy the team news. If I skipped your bunch, it doesn’t mean I don’t like ’em; you’ll notice entries for both DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy below. Hell, I’ll even start with ’em:

DC United
Marc Burch finds his MLS niche

Emilio’s and Vanney’s upside(s)

Kissing Ben Olsen’s butt, but also laying out good dish on DC’s tactics.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Look at all them injuries. It’s true: nobody walks in LA.

New England Revolution

The FNGs from Gambia (don’t worry about the name in the headline; he ain’t comin’).

Real Salt Lake

Beckerman believes in Kreis (see bottom)

Colorado Rapids

Casey rising; Sanneh plugging holes

Kansas City Wizards

Hunting the August Slump

Chicago Fire

Gimpy Guerrero

Columbus Crew

Comings/Goings (Szetela); Convalescing and Waivers

FC Dallas

FrankenCooper “ready to push himself”; Goodson concussion

New York Red Bulls (or is it Red Bull New York?)

Jozy’s injury; Galarcep’s sass

Well, that’s it for this….waitaminute…whoops…

Toronto FC

Dichio’s busted foot, TFC’s doomed season.

OK, done now for reals.

MLS Week 22 Perspecto-Scope: Statements of Intent

It was a weekend of statements.  From DC United’s “knock this battery off my shoulder…bitches,” through Red Bull New York’s, “don’t call it a come-back,” all the way down to the Los Angeles Galaxy reeling out a quiet “Yeah…it can get worse, actually” while longingly eyeing the last day of the regular season, the league looks to be gradually sorting itself out.

Then again, a couple key games ended in ties, thereby giving ambiguity another day in Major League Soccer (MLS).

I caught a few games this weekend and would have typed them up – specifically, Red Bull v. Chicago, which turned out to be the most educational of this weekend’s games – but, between family and squelching various crises, too much time slipped by to post them.  It’s a shame in a way…they were good notes….but this perspective piece will have to do.  May as well start with the boldest statement… Continue reading

Jason Kreis’ Mind – and a Message to a Merciful God

During the last 15 minutes of Chivas USA’s win over Real Salt Lake (RSL), the camera panned briefly to RSL coach Jason Kreis. At some point during that time, he wore the expression of a man mulling over his life: his past, his predicament, and the moment. And as he thought, a flicker of relief lighted into his expression – maybe a slight lift in his eyebrows, maybe the tiniest curl in one corner of his lips. It wasn’t much, but something showed.

For my money – and I can’t say I know for sure – I think that, in that moment, Kreis said to himself, “Could be worse. I could be Frank Yallop.”

3-0. To Colorado (red-hot Rapids? The main site said it; I swear. The Los Angeles Galaxy made the Rapids look like an offensive superpower. Conor Casey scored for fuck’s sake, and on a good move.

Please, please: someone pull the plug in LA. We’re in flaming puppy territory.