Pablo Mastroeni re-signs with Rapids … but why?

Pablo Mastroeni is a Colorado Rapids legend.

Undoubtedly, when he decides to hang up his boots, there should be a place in the organization for him, doing whatever it is he wants to do. If he wants Tim Hinchey’s job, Tim should give it up, shine Pablo’s shoes, and demote himself to VP of Marketing.

Mastroeni has re-signed with the Rapids. Well the Rapids are certainly happy to have him back, a few issues linger. What will be the 36-year-old’s place in the squad? Is this a farewell tour? What are the linger effects of his concussion issues, especially after revealing that the concussive symptoms he experienced for the entire 2012 season were at least partially due to a 2011 injury of the same nature?

Obviously Mastroeni loves the game – and loves this club. Obviously his doctor has warned him about the nature of concussive symptoms and how they can ruin the rest of his life. And yet, it’s a risk that he is willing to take.

But why?

In the interview with German Sferra, he discusses lots of issues – his family, his love for the game and his inability to walk away. But this is a club that needs him and his leadership now more than ever. He is one of the last connections this Rapids team has to the past. Since 2002, he’s been a stalwart piece of this team. The Rapids Front Office needs him.

No matter how much he plays, he’ll be vital to this club in 2013.

Welcome back, Pablo.



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Mercifully, the end has come

Thank God the 2012-2013 Colorado Rapids season has ended. You will notice a lack of blog posts since the end of June – this is not because I have forgotten to post. It is because I literally have nothing good to say about this team. Individual players, yes. The team as a unit, as a business or as a club – not so much.

This was perhaps the most trying year to be a fan of the Rapids ever. Expectations were high with a new coach and a new system, along with a bevy of new players. To say that it has not panned out would be an understatement along the lines of  “Mitt Romney likes to take both sides of an issue.”

(Side note: Why do I have to keep telling this Rapids FO what is bad for business? When the club president is retweeting this garbage, why does it have to be me telling him that talking personal politics is bad for business?)

So as bloggers are wont to do, here are a few awards I have given out myself to these Rapids.

Iron Man (without the ego) Award: Drew Moor played every minute of every MLS Cup match this year. He’s the man.

Twitterer of the Year: Moor might tweet the most, but the most effective user of Twitter has to be Stewart Ceus. Never before have I cared what a backup goalkeeper thinks, but Stew’s twitter proves he is just like me or you – except really tall, and a great keeper.

The Up and Coming Award: Tony Cascio started fast, slowed down, but showed that his goal-scoring potential is unmatched on this squad. I’d advocate for him to start over Omar Cummings, but I might get strung up.

Finally, the Piojo Award for the invisible man on the roster (shout out to Craig): Mr. Anthony Wallace didn’t play all year, but could make all the difference. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

Here’s to a better 2013-2014. Go #Rapids.

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The Rapids blogosphere, made up of supporters who love the Rapids, and not just the idea of making money off the Rapids, are coming together around a lost cause. It’s a lost cause, because the antagonists are the gatekeepers, figuratively and quite literally. 

If you don’t follow @Teddy_Montoya on Twitter, you are missing out on hearing from someone who is the epitome of Bleed Burgundy™. He’s been a Rapids supporter from day one, follows the team to DSGP and away, jumps, sings, cries and shouts for the Rapids from the east side of the Terraces in the Pid Army. 

And now, he’s no longer welcome at the Dick. 

Without explanation, Teddy has been permanently banned from the premises. For “verbal assault”. Here is the letter he received from the Rapids Front Office. There was no explanation attached about what “verbal assault” means, and as of this blog post, at 4:15 p.m. on June 28, there still is none.

Burgundy Wave does a better round up here

I don’t know what Teddy did. I do know that he deserves at least an explanation, and much more than that.

And I think all supporters deserve to know the magic words that will get you kicked out of an MLS stadium forever.

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Rapids injuries spelling doom for 2012

It’s a good thing the Colorado Rapids can’t be relegated.

The injury bug has hit the Rapids exceptionally hard this year, explored in this report from German Sferra.

There’s no getting around the fact that soccer is hard on the body. It’s a lot of running, it’s a lot of jumping and throw in 11 other guys who want the same thing you do – the ball, and all three points – and you have a recipe for a long injury list.

Sferra includes Ross LaBauex and Anthony Wallace in his accounting of the injured “starting XI”. Both of those inclusions are a stretch, but they are injured regardless. Where the Rapids really hurt is in the midfield and forward – fully 3 of the best players in our front 6 are out with injuries. It’s no surprise, then, that goals are hard to come by.

With Castrillon, Edu and Henao still looking for their best place on this team, the Rapids will continue to struggle. A little bit of patience is going to go a long way for Rapids fans over the next 6 weeks.

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Real Colorado Foxes play TONIGHT in US Open Cup

If you aren’t doing anything tonight, you should head over to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden to watch the Real Colorado Foxes play in the first round of the US Open Cup.

Here’s more information about the Foxes fixture against KC Athletics FC.

The USOC is the oldest cup competition in America. It is woefully under covered by the United States Soccer Federation. Naturally, when I mean ‘woefully under covered’, I mean ‘totally ignored’. Kind of like the way you might ignore your ex-girlfriend at the bar. Or the way Don Garber and company ignores the history of soccer in America before 1994.

When US Soccer pretends like the USOC doesn’t exist, they do a major disservice to fans of the game in America, and they do damage to a brand that is already on the ropes. These first round games are amateur soccer at its finest. The guys you see on the pitch tonight at CSM might be your doctor, or your lawyer, your coach or your neighbor. They deserve better than this.

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FC Dallas 0-2 Colorado Rapids: Brian Mullan does dishes, windows, vacuums, etc. etc.

It’s possible that Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez both woke up on the wrong side of the bed Sunday morning. Maybe they didn’t get their two pieces of bacon, or their eggs were cooked wrong.

Whatever happened, the FC Dallas pair picked up red cards within two minutes of each other, and helped the Colorado Rapids cruise to a 2-0 victory in Dallas on Sunday evening.

Hernandez was sent off in the 34th minute for accumulation of yellow cards, and Perez was shown a straight red for a studs-up challenge on Drew Moor. For the remainder of the game, the Rapids played poised, patient football.

They enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession, and found the back of the net in the 61st minute and 74th minute. Castrillon and Rivero, two key offseason acquisitions for the new Rapids front office, were the goal scorers. Brian Mullan was on the service side for both goals.

FC Dallas drops to 3-3-4, 12 points on 10 games, and the Rapids improve to 5-0-5, 15 points on 10 games.

Now for the ratings:

GK – Matt Pickens – 7 – Lost in the shuffles and scuffles was the 26th clean sheet in a Rapids uniform for Pickens, a new record. Matt was largely untested for the final 60 minutes, but made an early key play against a near breakaway for the Hoops.

LB – Luis Zapata – 6.5 – Truthfully didn’t have much to do. His overlapping play continues to impress and he shows a calm in defending that not many LBs in MLS can match right now.

CB – Drew Moor – 6.5 – Like Zapata, Moor didn’t have much to show for his 90 minutes of work. Drew, ahem, drew the red card on Perez. It looked like he enjoyed the run out in his home state.

CB – Tyrone Marshall – 6 – Marshall is not the solution if Wynne’s injury is more serious than first noted. He not only changes the game for himself, he changes the game for the entire rest of the backline, who must make up for his lack of speed.

RB – Kosuke Kimura – 5 – Pareja gave Kimura a chance to round back into form Sunday, but the vote of confidence didn’t do much for the still-struggling right back. Mullan was constantly doing Kimura’s defending for him. Adding Yamada to this squad hasn’t seemed to help Kimura’s focus.

RM – Brian Mullan – 7.5 – Speaking of Brian Mullan, what can’t this guy do? He defends, he dispossesses the opponent, and his service on Sunday was impeccable, adding two assists to his tally. He’s gone about his business very quietly this season, but he is perhaps the most important reason the Rapids have 15 points.

CM – Jeff Larentowicz – 6. 5 – Jeff had a subdued game and did his job well. You can feel a dissent yellow building, though. Jeff’s been on every referee like white on rice this year.

CM – Jaime Castrillon – 7 – Scored a goal on a header in the 61st minute, when he was admittedly unmarked. His combination play with Rivero continues to mature, and when he figures out where and how to find Casey, his already beautiful assists and through balls are going to be more stunning.

LM – Martin Rivero – 6.5 – Rivero scored his goal in the 74th minute on some good service from Mullan. Rivero makes good plays to keep possession, but is still moving at a pace that is way above his teammates. Will they catch up, or will he have to play slower? Time will tell.

ST – Tony Cascio – 6 – Maybe the most anonymous game so far in Rapids jersey for Cascio. He wasn’t involved much in the attack, especially after Cummings went down early with his ankle injury. There have been calls to let Cascio play up top with Casey when Conor comes back, and let Omar sit or play a reduce role until he finds himself back in form. I think those comments are a bit premature, especially after Sunday.

ST – Omar Cummings – INC – Omar went down in the 13th minute with an ankle injury. He will have an MRI on Monday, but he was walking on it on his way to the locker room. Omar is a proven commodity who is struggling right now. Maybe a couple of weeks away from the game will do him some good.

SUB –Kamani Hill – 6 – Hill replaced Cummings in the 13th minute. Playing up top next to Cascio for the remainder of the first half, and then dropping to the midfield after halftime, Hill has talent and a GPS in his foot. He’s still trying to find his place on this team.

SUB – Conor Casey – 5.5 – Conor is slowly but surely coming back up to game speed (or as close to game speed as he’s ever going to get). He looks a little tentative on 50-50 balls and isn’t particularly dangerous yet. But it was a key 45 minutes for Conor on a day when they didn’t need his goals.

SUB – Wells Thompson – INC – Played 3 minutes in the most garbage of garbage time.

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New England Revolution 2-1 Colorado Rapids: Player Ratings

(Cross posted from Denver Post Terrace blog)

It’s often said that possession is everything in soccer.

But as last night’s game between the Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution proves, the numbers that really matter at the end of the day are on the scoreboard.

At times dominating through the midfield, the Rapids played their (new-new 4-4-2) brand of soccer. And despite having to play on an artificial turf field the Revs front office continues to insist is a worthy pitch, the Rapids looked the better side.

In the imposed parity of Major League Soccer, no team goes on the road insisting that a point is good enough. But for a mid-week game on turf on the other side of the country, the Rapids might have had just that in mind.

What started with good possession ended with chances unfulfilled, led by bad finishing and a lack of a final pass. Add some tired legs into the equation, and it’s no wonder the Revs took all three.

On to the ratings:

GK – Matt Pickens – 4.5 – Matt didn’t have his best night of the year. Just one game removed from setting the Rapids clean sheet record, Matt found himself slightly out of position on the second goal (a delightful chip by Fernando Cardenas) and scrambling to make up for the mistakes made by Tyrone Marshall playing in front of him.

LB – Luis Zapata – 4.5 – Probably the best defender on the night for the Rapids. His overlapping runs on the left helped lead the attack through that side all night. He remains calm in defense and seemed to be the only defender who wasn’t scrambling.

CB – Drew Moor – 4 – Moor plays best alongside Marvell Wynne, who was held out last night due to a hamstring injury. On lots of plays, it looked like he knew that he needed to do more to make up for Marshall’s lack of speed and jumping ability.

CB – Tyrone Marshall – 3 – Tyrone is a veteran, to be sure, and a consummate professional. But he has been sitting on the bench for the better part of the last two seasons, and in that time has lost a step. This team can learn a lot from Marshall’s play, but at 37 years old, it’s getting harder for him to keep up.

RB – Hunter Freeman – 3.5 – The hardest decision Oscar Pareja has had to make so far in his tenure with the Rapids is at RB. Do you go with a badly out-of-form Kimura, or the long-suffering journeyman Freeman? After last night, I think the decision is harder. Freeman doesn’t look quite comfortable defending, is no threat to go forward and has never been the same since he came back from Norway.

MF – Brian Mullan – 4.5 – Mullan knows his way around a soccer pitch, knows when to play the ball back and when to play it into space. His high soccer IQ keeps him from making dumb mistakes or getting caught out of possession. But if the Rapids are going to insist on playing attacking football, Mullan might not be the answer.

MF – Martin Rivero – 4 – Rivero is still learning a lot about MLS. It is obvious that the physical nature of the midfield play gets to him. As others have said, he often takes one too many touches of the ball. It might mean something more about the others around him, but he finds himself playing too fast, and last night was no exception.

MF – Jaime Castrillon – 5 – Castrillon was responsible for the only Rapids goal of the night, a nicely placed header on a set piece. His sharp, short passes through the midfield started lots of the attacking play for the Rapids. He doesn’t seem like he’s too fond of defending, though, and in MLS, one through eleven must play both ways.

MF – Jeff Larentowicz – 5 – Every time Jeff touched the ball last night, you could see where he is comfortable with this Rapids team: playing behind him to Drew Moor, carrying the ball 10 or less yards, or by playing a long ball over the top. Larentowicz’s frustration never boiled over, though.

FW – Omar Cummings – 3.5 – The game is really in Omar’s head. He’s chasing it, he’s overplaying balls, he’s making bad runs, and he’s being impatient for a goal or a touch. That missed PK two weeks ago against the Galaxy made things go from bad to worse.

FW – Tony Cascio – 5.5 – Cascio is starting to turn some heads in the league with his consistent play and his dangerous attacking skills. He seems to know already how the game is played in MLS, and it has helped him turn in good performance after good performance in his rookie season.

SUB – Kamani Hill – INC – A quiet 15 minutes from Kamani Hill, who subbed in for Hunter Freeman. I’d like to see him consistently getting 60 or 75 minutes in midfield each game. Look for him to do so Sunday in Dallas.

SUB – Andre Akpan –INC – Replaced Rivero in the 84 minute.

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Glory Glory Colorado! Colorado Rapids 4-0 Chivas USA

Good second half out of the Pids against Chivas USA. Cascio should be playing up top with Conor when he’s ready to come back full time. Obviously the place for Omar Cummings is on the wing. Rivero-Castrillon continues to impress. And Kimura gets subbed out for Freeman, an obvious attempt by Manager Oscar Pareja to send him a wake-up call. Never a dull moment at The Dick.

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MLS declares that Zapata is the Rapids’ answer at LB

I don’t know if he’s final word at LB for the Rapids, but Luis Zapata has proven a capable defender in his six games for the club.

The search for player personnel has probably stopped including LB and refocused to either adding depth at FW, or some help on the wings. A capable replacement for Pablo Mastroeni has to be under consideration now, as well.

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Terrace blog Player Ratings for Colorado Rapids – Seattle Sounders

(Cross-post from

Every time a Rapids player went to ground, fans of Seattle Sounders FC waited with bated breath.

Brian Mullan’s first trip to Seattle since breaking the leg of Sounders forward Steve Zakuani in April of 2011 on a hard slide tackle didn’t quite end the way the Rapids hoped. To be sure, the Rapids looked dangerous at times but never quite threatened the goal.

The Sounders really only had three opportunities to score, but a header scored on a set piece by Zach Scott proved decisive as the Sounders took down the boys in burgundy 1-0 in front of a crowd of 38,000-plus in Seattle. The Rapids now have nine points on six games on the season.

The game started physically and ended chippy, with four players picking up yellows. A neutral observer couldn’t help but think these teams don’t particularly like each other.

When it comes down to style of play, the Rapids continue to endure growing pains in the installation of their 4-3-3. They play better, and look more comfortable, when they play the way Manager Oscar Pareja wants them to –- technically, with possession and with short passes along the ground.

The Sounders were better in possession, better technically and better on the scoreboard, where it really counts. And for once, the Rapids can’t blame the outcome of this game on Baldoermo Toledo, the referee.

Now, for the ratings, on the other side of the jump:

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