Monday, March 31, 2008

Rapids Reserves Draw 1-1 With Galaxy

Herculez Gomez continued his way back from injury with a good run-out for the Colorado Rapids Reserves as they tied with their LA Galaxy counterparts Sunday. Having played a small part in the first team game the night before (enough time, however, for an entertaining bit of argie-bargie with David Beckham, he played for 64 minutes in the Reserves game and managed to score the team's only goal. This is good news for all Rapids fans as the team struggles with a mounting injury list. The other notable fact about this game? The Galaxy started it with only ten men. I don't want to read too much into this but doesn't that seem like a club team? Could it be symbolic of a lack of organization in the organization? This is the second team of a professional MLS outfit, not a pub side. It's almost unbelievable that they would start a man down. I wish them well because I want to see Beckham do well this season for the sake of the game but it isn't exactly an auspicious start.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

RIP David Rocastle

David Rocastle was a truly gifted player for Arsenal and England before his untimely death in 2001 at the age of 33. And he was also, more importantly, a class human being. This is a quick note to say that tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of his death. Please check the link below to maybe buy a commemorative t-shirt and raise money for autism research in the process.

Youngsters Shine as Rapids Sink Galaxy

A sellout crowd, a beautiful Colorado evening and a performance to match. The Colorado Rapids ran out impressive winners 4-0 over the LA Galaxy, Beckham et al, in the season opener at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The England superstar duly made the trip and lasted the whole 90 minutes. He was impressive in the opening quarter of the game with some trademark crosses and setpieces but he and the whole team were totally deflated after the award of a dubious penalty kick for the Rapids in the 59th minute of the game, duly converted by new signing, Christian Gomez, to make it 2-0. After that, a combination of poor morale, altitude and relentless attacking by the Rapids saw off the Galaxy who now welcome a run of games at home in California. As Beckham and Galaxy coach, Ruud Gullit, repeatedly said at the post-match press conference, the penalty was the pivotal moment of the game. The players' spirits were sapped and the altitude drained them then of any remaining life. Omar Cummings and Colin Clarke made hay to score the remaining goals, this after Man of the Match, Terry Cooke, had opened the scoring for the Rapids in the tenth minute with a belter of a shot from the right side of the penalty area after Christian Gomez had rattled the post from further out.
Cooke, who for much of last season looked frustrated and maybe a bit lost, was absolutely outstanding tonight and fully deserved his MoM award. I think his partnership with the very offensively minded Jose Burciaga will do wonders for his confidence. He must have relished putting one over his old teammate Beckham. The two duly swapped shirts at the final whistle as they no doubt reminisced over their days in the Manchester United youth team.
All the big stars aside, though, it was the Colorado youngsters who really impressed tonight. Keel and Kimura were epic at the heart of the defense where Bouna Coundoul showed impressive bravery a number of times and managed to keep the attacking threats of Donovan and Ruiz at bay. As coach Clavijo said, there were seven players out there whom you could class as rookies given the Rapids' injury problems and they all acquitted themselves outstandingly well. One special mention also to sub Ciaran O'Brien who came on in the 70th minute for Christian Gomez, played his heart out and was sent off in the final moments of the game for a poor but unmalicious tackle on Ruiz who proceeded to make a drama out of a crisis. Beckham was manful enough to say that O'Brien should not have been sent off for the tackle; it was clearly a yellow card at most. I'm not a big fan of supporters cheering their ejected players but, in this case, such support was fully deserved. O'Brien may only be slight of figure but his tackling and heart were a joy to watch and he should not have been sent off. He will have a great season if he plays like that every time.
So, nice work all around by the team which now goes to Kansas City April 5 for their next game against the Wizards.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Altitude Credibility Gap; Local Media Almost Absent

Watching the Altitude TV preview of the Colorado Rapids' upcoming season last night, I was tolerating the blandness of it all until all credibility was lost. The main presenter was smooth and professional enough but all hell broke loose when some hyper enthusiastic guy came over the air to describe the Top 10 Plays of 2007. From the moment he opened his mouth, it was clear he knew nothing about this kind of football. And it reached the nadir when he described the MLS All Star Game last season as against the Irish team, Keltic. Yes, that's right. Not only did he get the country wrong (the first British team as you all know to ever win the European Cup) and, to my knowledge, the only Scottish team ever to win it, but he also pronounced Celtic with a K. It kind of beggars belief. The show didn't get off to a great start when it happily showed a Niko Hernandez cut out staring out at you (couldn't they have updated it to at least get current players on the screen?) but this paled into insignificance given the Celtic fiasco. The good news is that it will no doubt be pulled from the screen for further viewing.
This does somehow reflect the apathy of local media towards the Rapids. The season opener is tomorrow with one of the biggest stars on the planet coming to DSG Park and there is barely any coverage of the event. There are obviously some local reporters out there who want to do more on the soccer front in Colorado but it seems to me that the powers that be at the local papers and TV channels are indifferent at best. I hope the team will be able to persuade them otherwise this season. There are certainly enough fans out there who would love to see improved media coverage.

Beckham to Make Trip to DSG; Rapids' Injury Crisis

I have it on very good authority that David Beckham is indeed making the trip to Colorado tonight and will likely start the game against the Rapids tomorrow night. Like Rapids' captain Pablo Mastroeni though, he is very unlikely to play the full game. Speaking to Mastroeni this morning as the team went through their final paces before the season opener tomorrow, the skipper said he is not likely to play more than 20-25 minutes tomorrow night. He did spend a lot of time on his own this morning at DSG Park stretching and working on his injuries. His aim is to be fit for as much of the season as possible and not worry overly about the season opener. The Rapids really are struggling fitness wise and will have many top players unavailable for tomorrow's game. Let's hope the likes of Omar Cummings and Christian Gomez can knock in some early goals to calm the nerves.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Will He, Won't He? Beckham to Make Opener?

The countdown to the Rapids' opener against LA begins in earnest and we still have no idea if the MLS's biggest star will make the trip. David Beckham duly picked up his 100th cap for England in Paris as the national team went down by a goal to nil to the 1998 World Cup champions. Pulled off in the 63rd minute, maybe Ruud had had a few words with Fabio so his star player wouldn't be too exhausted before the game on Saturday. Can't be the best preparation for an opening game even if he didn't play the whole match aganist France. I think he will make the trip given last season's PR disaster for the Galaxy in Colorado but he may not make the starting line-up. Same with Landon Donovan who played in Poland this week for the US team.
What we do know is that the Rapids' line-up will not be what we might expect. There are a lot of injuries, especially in the defense. No Petke or Ihemelu for sure so, according to the Rapids' website predictions (, Kimura and Keel will be in the back four with Burciaga and Erpen. The midfield is also somewhat unfamiliar with DiRaimondo and O'Brien taking their place alongside veterans Cooke and Mastroeni (doubtful). Omar Cummings will be the lone forward up front. The fact we don't have a full squad to choose from takes some of the excitement away from the opening day but true fans will behind the players whoever takes the field for Colorado's finest. Beckham or no Beckham.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Beckham to Miss Opener v Rapids?

Remember last season when the pseudo fans demanded their money back because Mr. Beckham wasn't able to play in the game against the Rapids because he had just played a game for England, flown back to play for the Galaxy the next day and, rightly, realized the schedule was ridiculous? Well, as we anxiously await the season opener in two weeks against LA, the talk seems to be that Beckham is very likely to play in the England friendly against France, just three days before the opener at DSG Park. Seems a bit too familiar a situation? Even if he escapes any injury in the game against France, the prospect of a potentially freezing day in the Rocky Mountains may not look too pleasing for him and the LA organization amidst all the jetlag. I don't doubt Beckham's professionalism and I think LA will do everything possible to play him but it does have eerie comparisons with last season even if there is no other MLS game in between like last time. Still seems a little odd to me that he would be selected for the national team given a lack of serious match practice but that seems to be the word on the street. I hope to see him play but not as much as I hope the Rapids run out comfortable winners and give us a warm feeling for the season ahead.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pundits Get it Wrong on FA Cup

I'm sure many cliches have been written since the weekend over the FA Cup and the extraordinary results that emerged. My only comment is that it just goes to show how some of the so-called experts who pontificate on the state of the world's game just get it so damn wrong. I remember such experts saying confidently at the time of the third round that all the romance had gone from the competition because only the big teams were going to win. Indeed, there was some justification for this given that the tournament has been won only by the big boys in recent years. But it is only a game played by human beings and almost anything can happen.
Granted, Havant and Waterlooville were never going to beat Liverpool at Anfield having actually taken the lead twice but they gave them a fright. I wrote way back about non-league Horsham frightening the life out of League One leaders Swansea in the second round. The gap is too large for such giant-killing but clearly, as the weekend showed, Championship teams can beat the Premier giants. Barnsley, who had already beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the previous round, dumped Chelsea out and now face the prospect of possibly winning the Cup and being relegated. A first? Or maybe it will be mighty Cardiff City to take the FA Cup out of England? And let's not forget the achievement of Portsmouth. Granted, a Premier League team who have been playing very well this season but to go to Old Trafford and beat United really was a fantastic performance. Oh the romance.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rapids Lose to Gunners as Wrap Up England Tour

The Colorado Rapids played an Arsenal Reserve team Thursday, narrowly losing 2-1. Hard to know what really went on in the game without witnessing it but the Arsenal team did contain such first-team players as Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Gilberto. Not bad. Has anyone been watching Walcott this season? He looks in sparkling form and it can't be long until he is back in the England reckoning again. Colin Clark scored the Rapids goal on an assist from our new friend Tom McManus. McManus, who played well in the Ipswich game, also reportedly linked up very well with Terry Cooke in the second half of this game. Maybe he will become a regular at DSG Park this season? Big thanks due to the Ipswich Town North American Supporters Club who were kind enough to add some comments on this blog in response to the entry on the Ipswich game. It truly is a global game. There ain't nothing like it. The Rapids return from London on March 9.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gomes Scores on Debut as Rapids Win in England

New signing Rafael Gomes was among the scorers as The Colorado Rapids ran out winners against English Championship side Ipswich Town 3-2 during the club's preseason tour of England. Gomes headed in a Terry Cooke corner to open the scoring in the first half. Nick LaBrocca and Jovan Kirovski were the other goalscorers as Ipswich twice battled back to equalize. I don't know what the Ipswich line-up was like - there was no mention of the game on the club's website at all. Whatever it was, though, this is great experience for the Rapids players. How often have I heard that the MLS is at a similar level to the Championship in England? Well, here's some evidence. I'm not sure you can really compare the two because the style of soccer is so different. I do think, however, that the Rapids will probably have been a fitter bunch of players overall. One other interesting note from the game was the performance of tryout Tom McManus. Apparently, McManus, a Colorado forward, joined the team in England for a tryout and had a good game. Could he be the answer to the age-old striking problem?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another Gomes Comes to Town as Rapids Sign Brazilian

To Christian and Herculez, add Rafael. As discussed last week, the Rapids did sign a Brazilian. Although they missed out on Reinaldo, Colorado did sign Rafael Gomes as a defensive midfielder. Could be interesting when Gomes passes to Gomez who passes to Gomez who scores. Gomes has played in both Brazil and Portugal and was in the same Brazilian national squad at U-15 and U-17 level as Ronaldinho. Notably, the Rapids also announced that they waived Chase Hilgenbrink (he didn't get much of chance having just been signed) and Brandon Prideaux among others. Just goes to show how tough professional sport is. This looks like the end of any pre-season trades as the Rapids are now roster compliant. Same old questions remain on the scoring front.