May Day (May 1st) marks the first quarter of the season. The Rapids will be remembered for all the injuries that they have incurred. I want to take a look back at the first 9 games of the season and rationally look at the expectations going forward. I guess I'll start at the beginning.
During the preseason the Rapids traveled to Las Vegas to play Chivas USA. I remember three things about this game. The Rapids played a lot of players that haven't suited up since. Stewart Ceus made a few bad decisions that have now become his hallmark and is the reason that Clint Irwin got his chance. I recall Chivas USA fans storming the field and was told by a friend that it was not to meet their players, but their coach. Chelis. I researched this guy and as far as I can tell he has never won anything except for promotion from division two to division one in Mexico. So not saying Chivas USA supporters are not smart or anything. But Denver Nuggets fans have never stormed the court for George Karl when we beat the Utah Jazz.
I was fascinated with Chelis when the Rapids played Chivas on April 13th. After the Rapids early goal they went to a shot of Chelis. He was gripping the bench so hard that I thought Chelis was going to pick the entire metal banch up and throw it at the ref. Then, before the half, there is Chelis walking off the field while the game was still going on. He did it again when Chivas played Salt Lake two weeks ago. If it was any other sport that a coach left the bench while the game was in play that coach would make national news. I'm pretty sure that his players are scared of him. During the Rapids telecast of the Chivas game the announcer said a very telling statistic. Every goal that Chivas scores comes after halftime. I don't know what Chelis is saying during the halftime break of Chivas games, but he needs extra time to do it and it works.
The month of March did not treat the Rapids kindly. Two straight losses to FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union while not having Matt Pickens or Martin Rivero and it was doom and gloom here in Denver. But attitudes were optimistic when the C-38's mobilized at Rio Tinto Stadium in the Rapids quest to win back the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time since 2006. Then one turning point of the season happened. Matt Pickens broke his arm leading to Clint Irwin being placed in goal. The Rapids played their best match of the month leading for most of the game before a defensive breakdown forced a tie and their first result in Utah since the Rio Tinto opened. All Irwin has done since is win MLS save of the week and several player of the game awards with his strong goalkeeping since. Real Salt Lake had no answer for DeShorn Brown that night. The Rapids ended the month with two points in five matches and the cellar of the Western Conference.
The beginning of April and hope emerged in the second of three matches against Real Salt Lake. Abita Harris scored and Irwin saved a penalty from Alvaro Saborio. Who had a rough couple weeks at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. Also playing in the blizzard game for Costa Rica against the United States Mens National team. Another win against Chelis and his goats and the Rapids had a three game unbeaten streak. It was snapped in a loss to Seattle where the Seattle Sounders midfield was too big for Colorado. Shalrie Joseph out played Dillon Powers physically. Even though Powers was named man of the match, I feel he got it because there was no one else to give it too. Martin Rivero made his season debut against the Houston Dynamo and looked solid in the tie last Sunday.
Biggest surprise so far this season has been Dillon Powers. Who has earned his spot. Now that Rivero is back it should take some of the offensive pressure off of him. When Brown and Edson Buddle played together, the Rapids won both games. Colorado's midfield is fun to watch when all of their first team players are playing. They can dominate possession and play creatively.
And so that's where the team lies so far this season. The new players learning how to play with each other for the Month of March and then hanging on through injuries while getting results in April. The good news is Martin Rivero is back. Pablo Mastroeni is playing for now. DeShorn should be ready for Toronto FC this weekend. I think attitudes and expectations are rising a little. Hopefully results follow.