Giving In: Crew v. Rapids, Early Impressions

For those unfamiliar with it, I have dedicated myself to follow and, to some degree, conflate the relatively separate fates of the Columbus Crew and the Colorado Rapids for the 2008 Major League Soccer (MLS) season. The idea is to see which of these long-struggling MLS original clubs make progress this season…and which falls still further behind as the league expands.

This post just came to me out of the blue (OK, I was on the can; does that make it “out of the brown?”), but I think there’s something to it. Back when I embraced this assignment, nearly two months ago, I liked Columbus’ chances better. The reasoning was pretty straightforward: Columbus, playing in the tougher East, had the look of a team that could be competitive with the addition of only a player or two (both forwards, preferably) and more time to gel. Against that, the Rapids had the look of a team in not only in need of a total overhaul on offense, but one with the impression of a toxic locker room (suffering, perhaps from sour relations between players and coach?). Continue reading

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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

MLS: An All-Latin* Trade Orgy!!

(* Assuming I botched the usage, could someone hep me to the proper term for all persons of Mexican/Mexican-American/Central American descent?)

Holy pre-SuperDraft trading, Batman! Between the one player who we all thought would go (Carlos Ruiz to LA) and two that came out of left field – Nick Garcia to San Jose for the #1 pick and, this second one is in the works, Jose Burciaga Jr. to the Colorado Rapids for an “undisclosed pick” (see down at the bottom). Well, those last two came out of left field for me, anyway.

So, I’ll kick this around below in the order I find them significant. Continue reading

Kansas City Wizards 2007 Review: Limits of Positive Thinking

Kansas City Wizards

Record (W-L-T): 11-12-7; 45 GF, 45 GA

Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

 

(NOTE: Sorry about the format – e.g. the automatic, uncorrectable double-spacing; I transferred this from Word – which, curiously enough, works on a Mac. CHRIST, I hate when these fucking machines make my formatting decisions for me. Fuck you Bill Gates! You don’t know what I want!)

Overview

New England Revolution fan that I am (even if I run hot-cold), it’s not too surprising that I gathered my impression of the Kansas City Wizards 2007 season through that team – specifically, a late May 4-3 run-‘n’-gun win and a pair of bustling, barging losses in August. The former confirmed reports of a new, attack-happy approach under new coach Kurt Onalfo; the latter, on the other hand, revealed its limitations against a team willing to play the heavies. The dates of both games are crucial as well: the forward-looking style had KC creeping toward “darling” status in the season’s early going – as in, thank God, a team that tries to win – while the August loss came during a time when it seemed like they’d again miss the post-season. They made it in the end, of course: they even won their first-round series against Chivas USA. But it wasn’t as the same team that started 2007.

 

Like a couple other Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, KC was one of the hot start, cool finish sides – and there’s some truth to this narrative, though it’s more complicated than that. KC definitely started well – going 6-2-2 from the April opening to the first weeks of June – and the rot did sneak in immediately after in the form of a six-game winless streak. What followed, however, constitutes one of the weirder pattern of results I’ve ever seen….or, perhaps, noticed. Apart from a “blip” in July when they picked up two wins, the Wizards kind of staggered through the remainder of 2007 and into the playoffs on the back of just one win per month. Continue reading