Centennial 38

Centennial 38

Post Game Report: Toronto FC Vs. Colorado Rapids

By: Michael Sandoval

Colorado entered BMO Field with hopes of winning two straight road gamers for the first time since 2011, their hunger and optimism increased when they saw Toronto’s starting eleven.  It was a make shift line up as five key players were missing, Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe headlining the list. Defoe was out due to injury while Bradley was a coach’s decision.   Toronto still had stars Dwayne De Rosario, Gilberto, and Julio Cesar playing so don’t feel too sorry for them.  It wasn’t the prettiest of games.  One which was decided more by character and drive then technical ability.  One which saw the Rapids walk away with all three points.   One which ended a six game losing streak against Toronto at BMO Field.

Early in the first half Gaby Torres created a chance with some quick thinking and some fancy foot work only to see his shot go high and wide. Following this chance Toronto commanded most of the ball, winning several free kicks and corners. Colorado’s lack of possession stemmed from sub-par passing.  Throughout the match the quality wasn’t there, often we would struggle connecting four or five consecutive passes.   Fortunately the Rapids back line more than made up for our offensive struggles.  Drew Moor and company frustrated Toronto all game long and forced their attackers to take shots from distance which Clint Irwin handled with ease.

Toronto FC came out with more intensity the second half and looked to have the upper hand.  It took a team effort but Colorado was able to withstand wave after wave of attack from the Canadian team.  It was an effort which earned the Rapids their second clean sheet of the season, the first coming off their 2-0 win over Portland.  The lone goal of the match came after a couple of offensive substitutions made by Pablo Mastroeni.  One of which was Dillion Serna who made his mark on the match quickly.  Three minutes after stepping onto the field Serna played a key role in Edson Buddle’s 99th MLS career goal. Playing the ball to Dillion Powers whose penetrating run inside the eighteen freed up Buddle.  Powers found him right outside the six and Edson finished the chance off smoothly.  Minutes before Kyle Bekker hit the post off a brilliantly taken free kick, inches from making this a completely different game, but it was the Rapids day and they were able to take all three points.

The win propels Colorado into second place early on in the season.  They will host San Jose next week and look to continue their winning streak against a California side who is looking suspect so far in this young season

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Pre-Game Toronto:

By Brendan Wyatt

If you have a winless record against a team in its home stadium, would you be happy coming away with a tie? Could we be satisfied if we kept Michael Bradley at bay, or silent most of the game?  Could the Rapids come away with one or more points without Vicente?

That is a big question to me; can our boys in burgundy go for two and get some points against a stacked roster like Toronto, without the unpredictable playmaker that is Vicente Sanchez?   I say this because rumor has it that he may be a new daddy, and he trained as a part of the reserve team so I don’t expect to see him in the lineup this week.

The next scary topic is the stat that shows the Rapids are winless in Toronto, excluding the cup win in 2010, but that wasn’t against TFC.   0-6-0; that is no points at all.  The Rapids seem to have found kryptonite in Canada’s Queen City.

Last year was a year for breaking and making records, but there were some discouraging streaks that we were unable to snap.  One can hope that a new era brings an end to old streaks, and the change will even apply to superstitious things such as these.

It may help your confidence in knowing that there really is a change.  The training is detailed; there is so much focus on each and every drill.  There is a purpose to everything, and if something is not right, they stop, it gets reiterated, and then explained as to why things are done the way they are.  That didn’t happen last year.

There are a lot of differences between this team, and from the group of guys we saw last year.  So much so that I feel confident going into this match and believe we can take at least a point from this trip to Muddy York.

It’s going to be a midfield grudge match, with Bradley and Mari, Powers and Bekker.  Then up front both teams have designated players who are itching to get on the score sheet, Gilberto for TFC and for us; Gabby Torres.  Clint Irwin proved to be back in great form, and in training there was a lot of focus on the back four.  So this won’t be an easy match for either team.

So here is how I see Pablo lining up the boys in burgundy (today it should be the away Blues) Clint Irwin in goal, Thomas Piermayr out right, Shane O’Neill, Drew Moor, and Marc Burch on the left.  Then in the midfield, it looked like a diamond, with Jose Mari as the defensive mid with Nathan Sturgis, and Nick LaBrocca on the left and right, and Dillon Powers in the attacking position.  Then up top, a combination we really haven’t seen, with Edson Buddle and Gaby Torres.

With every new era there is change, and today has a little bit more to add to page.  So let’s raise a pint and toast to change, because without that, the Rapids could once again come home from Toronto without anything.

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Away Viewing Parties: Toronto

Viewing party locations across Colorado for Toronto match. Match starts at 2:00. Have a laugh and a pint, share your burgundy love.

Denver - Armoury – http://armourydenver.com/

South Metro – Lansdowne Arms – http://www.lansdownearmsbistroandpub.com/modules/wfchannel/

Ft Collins – Tap and handle – http://tapandhandle.com/

Boulder – Absinthe – http://www.boulderabsinthehouse.com/ gives you $3.50 wines, wells, and craft beers!

Colorado Springs - McCabe’s Tavern - http://www.mccabestavern.com/ gives you Happy Hour prices!

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There is no fan like a soccer fan

Photo Courtesy: Corbin Elliott Photography

By: Vanessa Mais

Tables full of burgundy. All eyes are glued on the TVs. Hands are up. A slow clap begins.

The rest of the bar begins to stare and wonder what is going on.

It is called tradition. And it is a big part of being a soccer fan and a Rapids fan.

Our group of C38ers carries over the tradition from the home games of clapping before any offensive free kick or corner kick. Call us crazy and superstitious but hey, we believe it helps!

The rest of the bar was there watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and were puzzled by what was going on. Whenever we would scream, cheer or react to something in the game, the other people would stare like we were crazy. The passion was intense and it took all of them by surprise. And this is exactly why we go.

I don’t know about anyone else but for every single away game I am at the pub to cheer on my Burgundy Boys with my fellow C38ers. We have a good sized group of us that go to Lansdowne Arms for every away game and the staff there knows us. It is a great environment, good food, and very good happy hour prices.

But it really isn’t about where you are. It is about who you are with. We choose to watch the games with fellow fans, sometimes complete strangers. We want to feel like we are at the games surrounded by fellow soccer enthusiasts chanting and sharing the experience.

This is something that is unique to the sport of soccer. Yeah, people might go to Buffalo Wild Wings with their friends to watch a football or basketball game but it isn’t with a supporters group. It isn’t something that complete strangers that just enjoy the sport will show up to and want to be a part of.

Soccer fans are a different breed. We support our team not matter what. We travel to away games on a regular basis. We watch away games with complete strangers at a pub. We have scarves made every single season. We have chants for our team, our players, our coaches, and the opposing teams. We have traditions before, during and after every game. We make Tifos as big as an apartment. We have tailgates with over a couple hundred people or more every game. We have a section that stands, screams and plays drums throughout the entire game. And soccer fans wear their colors proudly regardless of the season their team is having.

Soccer is also something shared throughout the entire world. You will find fans of teams in any city, state or country. The World Cup shows how popular the sport is worldwide.

Anyone can jump on a Bronco bandwagon when they are playing well, but I bet half the state didn’t even know that the Rapids won a championship in 2010. Rapids fans are different. We appreciate the sport itself and enjoy the experience of the game.

A soccer fan will love their team for life. A soccer fan will appreciate the hard times and shine in the success.

A Rapids fan will sit in freezing weather to watch the last two minutes of a match. A Rapids fan will drive in a blizzard to watch an away game at the pub. A Rapids fan has and always will bleed burgundy.

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Post-Game Report: Vancouver WhiteCaps Vs. Colorado Rapids

By: Michael Sandoval

The Rapids really showed their depth this week, pulling off a come from behind victory on the road with several players making their first starts of the season, even one or two making their Major League Soccer debut (defender Thomas Piermayr and forward Charles Eloundou).  After falling behind early in the first half the Rapids were able to stay composed and fight back for the 2-1 victory, giving Vancouver their first defeat of the season.

While the opening forty-five didn’t see any goals, we did get to see the Rapids start stringing some passes together.  Most of our possession came in the middle of the field but you saw the boys in burgundy create some nice triangles which allowed them to pass it out of tight situations.  We got to see Nathan Sturgis and Kamani Hill make their first starts and showed how deep Colorado are by putting in great shifts.  Clint Irwin also made his first start, showed some rust early on by coughing up a shot which fell to Darren Mattocks. Fortunately for Rapids faithful Mattocks was off sides and his goal was disallowed.  The WhiteCaps did control much of the possession and tempo in the first half, but it was nice to see Colorado attacking when they did have the ball.

Mattocks gave the lead to Vancouver after out racing Drew Moor to a well-placed pass by Kenny Miller, leaving the Jamaican with a one on one with Irwin.  The Whitecaps almost took a 2-0 lead minutes later in the 68th but Irwin made a great save against Pedro Morales.  In the 77th minute the game quickly turned in Colorado’s favor when Matias Laba was sent off after receiving a second yellow for stopping the play of game by pulling the ball into his chest.  The referee seemed to have forgotten Laba had received a yellow earlier in the 55th minute, but was quickly reminded by several Rapids players.

Jose Mari scored the equalizer in the 79th minute.  After receiving the ball a few yards out of the eighteen Mari quickly turned and let loose a half volley with his left foot which will easily earn my vote for goal of the week, and hopefully yours, when the polls open up later in the week.  It was the first goal from open play for the Rapids this season but boy was it worth the wait.  Two minutes later he gave Colorado the lead after being nicely set up by Sturgis at the top of the box.

The Rapids defense was able to hold off for the reminder of game, giving Colorado all three points on the road.  They play Toronto FC next week in what is sure to be a hard fought contest.

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Pre-Game Vancouver:

by Brendan Wyatt

First and foremost, let’s get excited that it’s game day!  But there is no tailgate, the game is away, we are three defenders short on the roster, and we have not done well in Vancouver.  But hey, it’s game day!

As fans we like to drum up hypothetical scenarios’ that put us in the position of power.  What would we do if we were Pablo, Tim, or Paul?  How would we handle tactics, player suspensions, injuries, and out of form DP’s?

The sidelines were buzzing with conspiracies, “what if’s”, “how would you” and “I could see”… all week.  The loss last week exposed the Rapids to a few things, and a second yellow card only secured the fact that some changes needed to happen in the back third this week.

Marvell Wynne’s second yellow card forces him to sit one out, and while some would worry that “the fastest man in MLS” is out, but  I’d inform you that may not hold that title any longer.  We have this kid named Charles Eloundou, and in this cat may get his chance to fly on the Vancouver turf.  I don’t see him getting the start, and surely not because of Marvell’s suspension, but we could very well see him this weekend.

So who will step in for Marvell?  Well Shane O’Neill of course.  Then who step’s in for Shane?  Thomas Piermayr that’s who.  Who is that you ask? Some of you may have seen the Rapids website released a statement a few weeks back that there were a couple guys on trial in camp; he’s one of the two.  I was hoping to inform you that both guys would be getting a start today, but without a press release from the FO, nothing is official.

We now know who we have at right back, and in the center, so who fills in at left back?  I’m going to go with Nathan Sturgis.  Dillon Serna was still nursing his ankle, and Chris Klute is still about a week out.  One could say our whole left side is missing right now.  Sturgis has spent time at left back this season already, so that is one of the reasons I would think Pablo may chose to go with Sturgis out on the left.

The next scenario is would you keep John Berner in goal now that Clint Irwin is 100%?  No, this should be Clint’s 1st start in goal.  While the loss last week was not solely on Berner, there were mistakes and when it comes to goalkeeping changes that may be all it takes.

The middle of the field will be back to the way it was for the first two games with Nick LaBrocca and Jose Mari handling the congested midfield.  When it comes to turf fields, we know that some players don’t, or can’t play on it, but then you hear Coach Pablo say he loves it; if you can play on it the right way.  I only bring this up because last year Edson Buddle didn’t play on the turf much.  Edson’s health and fitness are a step up this year compared to last year, so that may take a part in why we’ve seen more of him than Gaby Torres.

Gaby is still training on the outsides of the front line.  Deshorn Brown, and Edson get good time in the middle.  It’s would be hard to say that what I saw in training will be what we see line up to take the first kick because while Gaby trains to start on the wing, we’ve yet to see him start.  Last weeks training was cut short for viewer eyes due to weather and the team traveling so not a lot of on field play was to be seen.

With that being said, this week my predicted starting XI is kind of a hypothetical scenario. This is the way I would line our boys in burgundy up against the second place Whitecaps.    I’ve seen a few things in training that would give me a few hint’s as to whom we may see, but as far as tactics, and approach, not much has changed.  The focus is on refining the transition and position game.

The Rapids have speed and plenty of, all they need to do is keep the ball on the ground and keep Kenny Miller distracted, and we can come away with at least a tie.  This Canadian road trip won’t be an easy one, but we’ve got a fast and tenacious squad that I feel confident in.

Predicted starting XI:  Irwin, Piermayr, O’Neill, Moor, Sturgis.  LaBrocca, Mari, Vicente, Powers, Torres.  Brown.

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PKs and defensive breakdowns are the name of the game

By: Vanessa Mais

A perfect day for soccer with gorgeous weather and an environment that is hard to beat. Temperatures in the 60s and over 1,000 fans from Sporting Kansas City. A crazy crowded tailgate with some amazing grub.

It was a perfect day and it turned out to be a great game for both sets of fans to watch. The game was back and forth for a good portion of the first half and was a very physical hard fought battle. Both teams had their opportunities with the majority coming from set pieces. But the score was 0-0 at half. The only important part was Wynne receiving a yellow card in the 43rd minute.

The second half was much more eventful with a goal in the first five minutes from Kansas City. After watching the game over again, I realized how much we missed Klute at left back. The first goal came from Burch getting beat on a through ball. I personally believe Klute would have been able to catch Zizzo who assisted the goal.

While Burch was clearly beat, Wynne was not tracking one of the best players on KC, Zusi. Wynne is supposed to be one of the fastest players in the league and was somehow outrun by Zusi? I don’t think so. He just was not tracking back. It seemed as if our entire defense was beat by one ball that was almost 40 yards from goal.

Once again Sanchez was the one to step up and respond after a defensive breakdown. He played a very dangerous ball into the box which in turn caused a hand ball by KC. Sanchez of course finished the PK even though Kronberg got a hand to it. Well placed PK with enough pace.

With a little under 15 minutes left, the Rapids had another PK call. Shane O’neill was taken down in the box. A legit foul for a PK. Defender was beat and took out O’neill’s leg. Again Sanchez stepped up and put it away to the same side as the first PK.

Less than a minute later, another defensive breakdown. Wynne again was beat by Zusi on the dribble and couldn’t catch him. Watts was beat by his man who headed the ball back across to a wide open Feilhaber. Sturgis was nowhere to be found and let Feilhaber have a 2nd chance after a mishit on the first try. A defensive breakdown and a lack of marking.

Just over five minutes later, things got even worse for the back line when Wynne received his 2nd yellow equaling a red and was ejected. While I don’t agree with the first yellow, the second yellow was a very late and reckless tackle.

The Rapids were now playing with 10 men for the 2nd straight game and were down to Moor and O’Neill as the only true defenders. Pablo moved Moor to outside back, O’Neill to center back and Sturgis as the other back.

With only 3 minutes left, another defensive breakdown. Moor gave Dwyer too much space inside the 18 and he ripped a near post shot. A knife to the back to be up 2-1, have the game tied less than a minute later, get a red card and then give up a game-winning goal in extra time.

But there is a bigger story that has become the focus of the MLS.

The Rapids have become a little bit of a joke because they have had 5 goals this season off of 5 PKs. While some might not agree with all the PK calls, they all seemed like they could have gone either way. It came down to the ref making the decision. It has nothing to do with the Rapids.

The refs for the last two games made the decision to call two PKs in one game. For me, it doesn’t matter if you call more than one a game, a PK is a PK. A foul is a foul but everyone makes it a big deal because it is in the box.

The Rapids have proved that they can be dangerous and attack the box which has caused the PKs. I don’t think it says anything about our ability to score goals or a lack of attacking ability. We have proved we can be a threat offensively. It isn’t like you can get PKs from half line. We are aggressive around the net and it has paid off.

A PK is still a goal but our lack of marking and being able to defend on the dribble is the bigger concern.

As much as I would love to see a goal from the run of play, I would rather see our defense not give up a goal in the run of play.

Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships. Our road to the MLS Cup will be a long one if we can’t keep the ball out of our own net.

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Away Viewing Parties: Vancouver

Viewing party locations across Colorado for Vancouver match. Match starts at 4:30. Have a laugh and a pint, share your burgundy love.

Denver – British Bull Dog – http://www.britishbulldogdenver.com/
South Metro – Lansdowne Arms – http://www.lansdownearmsbistroandpub.com/modules/wfchannel/
Ft Collins – Tap and handle – http://tapandhandle.com/
Boulder – Absinthe – http://www.boulderabsinthehouse.com/ gives you $3.50 wines, wells, and craft beers!
Colorado Springs – Jack Quinn’s – http://www.jackquinnspub.com/ gives you Happy Hour prices!

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Post Game Report: Colorado Rapids Vs. Sporting Kansas City

By: Michael Sandoval

At the end of the day, it wasn’t a game we deserved to win.  After taking a 2-1 lead in the 78th minute I thought we were going to pull off another upset on the back of two more penalty kicks, but two late defensive lapses we all were left with a disappointing taste in our mouth.  Pablo Mastroeni said he was pleased with the performance of his team but as a fan I feel a little let down.  Still no goals from open play, a home defeat early on in the season, and our defensive line had their worst game yet.  It is still very early in the season though, so there is plenty of time to make some corrections.

The first forty-five lacked goals but did not lack any chances.  Early on Sporting Kansas City almost broke the deadlock with Paulo Nagamura finding space by himself inside the 18.  Fortunately rookie Goalkeeper John Berner was up to the task and forced the shot wide of the mark.  The Rapids got a few chances of their own, Drew Moor had a great look at goal in the 19th minute but his header went wide.  Minutes later Vicente Sanchez made the Sporting defense look silly while working his way inside the penalty box.  He was one on one with the keeper and played the ball to Nick LaBrocca who had a wide open net to shoot at.  Unfortunately, LaBrocca miss-hit the ball and it was easily cleared off the line.  That play summarizes the game pretty well, the boys worked hard, but made silly mental errors and couldn’t finish the job.

The first half ended 0-0 but Kansas City didn’t take long in the second to change that.  In the 50th minute Sal Zizzo found Graham Zusi with a centering cross the US international easily tapped in.  The play looked almost to easy for Sporting and left our defensive shaking their heads.

In the 57th minute Colorado was rewarded yet another penalty kick which may have been a bit fortuitous.  Sanchez continues to be perfect and scored the spot kick with ease, well the keeper did get a hand to it, but it still went in.  In the 77th minute Shane O’Neil made a brilliant move, easily nutmegging Benny Feilhaber to enter the 18, only to have Feilhaber take him down, earning the Rapids fifth pk in the season.  Sanchez converted this one as well and with 12 minutes to play it looked like Colorado had all three points.

Feilhaber made amends for his defensive miscue and scored the equalizer almost right after though and the game was tied yet again, this time at 2-2.  Marvell Wynne was sent off after harshly taking down Zusi in a none dangerous zone.  This left the Rapids a man down and with a defensive line missing two of the players it had started the game with.  Marc Burch came off early in the second half after picking up an injury.  This make shift back four made it all too easy for  Dom Dwyer to score in stoppage time, taking all three points away for Colorado.

All five goals this season have come off of Pks, and our attack still looks inconsistent at best.  Edson Buddle, despite one shot on goal, had a quite game, leaving me to wonder when Torres will get another chance to start.  The Rapids travel to Vancouver next weekend, hopefully they will be able to shake some of the attacking rust they seem to have accumulated and score a goal from open play.

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Pre-Game: Sporting KC

by Brendan WyattSlider-Rapids-Pre-SportingKC-v2

Who is ready for game day, and great weather for the tailgate? Who is ready to see our boys in burgundy score some goals from the run of play? Or how about control the transition game?  Who is ready to see rookie Jared Watts get his first start?

Something tells me we will be witnessing all of it, another chapter in the Rapids new era.  The Pablo era, where the coach knows most of the players, and what they are capable of.  Where what you do on the training pitch, earns you your spot in the starting lineup or on the bench.  Take Kamani Hill for example; by the end of last season he had all but disappeared.  Today, I expect to see him on the bench, sitting next to Marlon Hairston.  Yes, another rookie is making his way up the pecking order, but we can’t take the spotlight away from today’s rookie starter, Jared Watts.

Jared Watts was given the chance to show he can step in for Jose Mari, who picked up a second yellow near the end of the game last week and has to sit this one out.  The coaching staff also gave Nathan Sturgis a chance to see how he would perform on Tuesday, but they putt Watt’s back in there for the remainder of the week.

Training this week was spent focusing on positioning, and transition.  At times the play was stopped, and it was as if Pablo’s pitch was a whiteboard, and he would move the players around like chess pieces, or X’s and O’s.  “This is where you go” or “You have to be here, when this is about to happen” and my personal favorite “Do your homework, or make the first available pass”.

There is such a big difference in the atmosphere at training compared to last year.  The comradely alone is something that should be noted.  Not to hang on last year, but there was a vast spectrum of players who wanted to play, and who felt entitled.  There were cliques and separate groups, and there truly was a dog house too.  A couple players spent time working with the academy kids instead of practice, Kamani Hill was one of them.  Now; none of that exists!

As the weeks pile on and we get deeper into the season, the more comfortable I feel in saying that something big is going to happen this year.  There is a buzz on the training pitch like I’ve not seen since HS and college.  Not just the buzz on the pitch either, the tailgate is growing and getting noticed, ticket sales are up, in and outside C38 and the best part; we are just a few games in this long and trying  season.

Predicted Starting XI:  John Berner, Marc Burch, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Shane O’Neill. Nick Labrocca, Jared Watts, Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown. Edson Buddle.

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