Standing in the South Stands, the Terrace, Class VI, the view is the same. The pitch, green and wonderful, the Denver sky, full of clouds and evening sunshine beating on our necks. The air, thin and pale, just as advertised on the Rapids’ "Altitude Warning" track. Smiles surrounding us as the Rapids make their way to the pitch with blaring MLS music, holding the hands of children, whose smiles are so radiant at the chance to walk out with some of the country’s best. I smile with the rest of them hoping, that we will gain three points, especially with the West so close, and the talent level of our team so high compared to that of others, I’m quite confident that three points will be ours.
These thoughts ran through my mind, four times, beginning on the glorious Fourth of July, and my hopes were dashed, all four times. I desperately don’t want to continue writing negatively about the team we all love. We threaten to cancel season tickets, we yell at Oscar Pareja and Paul Bravo, and rightfully so, but of course with no avail. We call for their heads, we wish to see a change, whether that travels back to the days of glory that weren’t so long ago, basking in the magnificence of Gary Smith, or for a hopeful bright future with someone else manning the helm.
No Rapids fan, nor player, wants to be where we are now. Only two years removed from our glorious MLS Cup, and we’ve fallen to place no Rapids fan ever thought we would be. I must continue to love our Rapids, and so must you. But, it IS our job as fans to praise or criticize the play and/or management of our beloved team.
That being said, it is my job, as a fan, and a writer, to call out those that no one else will. Jeff Larentowicz, aka "Ginga Ninja" has disappeared from the role of the once brilliant midfielder he was.
No one, either writer, critique, or announcer has bothered to say anything about this. You may agree or disagree, but I beg of you, look at the difference in the fiery red haired midfield machine. Two years ago, the "Ninja" destroyed defenders by driving the ball to the top of the box and shooting, battering the keeper over and over again until ball hit net. Nowadays, that is a faint memory, one that we see every once in a blue moon.
"Ginga" one touches the ball every time he sees it, as if he's scared to drive the ball towards the opposing net. One touch pass, once touch pass, one touch pass. I don't want to say he doesn't care anymore, but you can't deny the fact that he isn't who he once was. Driving passion, goal focused, trigger happy, and ultimately the driving force behind our passion for wins. Disagree with me all you want to. My love for Jeff is as great as anyone else's.
I'm not sure if he needs Pablo Mastroeni to be his saving grace in allowing him to be free with the ball, but Pablo's been gone, and Jeff needs to take over this midfield. It's as if his confidence in his talent has been taken from him. The wings, usually Brian Mullan and Jamie Smith drive forward and cross the ball, but to no avail. Strikers can only do so much, but without the support of center midfield, two men versus an entire opposing defense, midfield, and keeper usually will not get the job done.
There are many other names I could call out, other faults of those in the front office and on the pitch, but I think the most important, and the one that people tend to veer from calling out, is that of the immortal Rapid, Jeff Larentowicz. We love you Jeff, come back to us. I call on you, Jeff of old, come back to us, for your fans, for your team, lead us to the victory we deserve.