That's the number of assistant coaches Peter Vermes has at Sporting Kansas City, the reigning MLS Cup champions.
Also the number of assistant coaches Oscar Pareja has at FC Dallas.
Jeff Cassar at Real Salt Lake? He's got five.
This is information listed on each club's respective websites. It's not hard to get. It's just... hard to comprehend.
Pablo Mastroeni has two assistant coaches, one of which doubles as the goalkeeper coach (as of today), and a head trainer and assistant trainer.. The Rapids are among the most bare-bones skeleton crews in the league in terms of support staff for the first team (other clubs with similar sparse staffs? You guessed it: the New England Revolution and the now defunct Chivas USA). No dedicated Nutritionist, Performance Analyst, Fitness Coach, Massage Therapist...
I haven't seen so few on a coaching staff since the last time I re-watched "The Damned United".
That's probably the most frightening thing. Since John Metgod left, most of the first team has been coached by just three guys: Pablo Mastroeni, Steve Cooke and Chris Sharpe.
That's it, and one of those guys was a first year head coach with zero coaching experience going in to this year. All to coach a team of nearly 30 players to play week in and week out against different opponents. It's no wonder Mastroeni says we need to focus on what we do well rather than focusing on other teams. We just don't have the resources to do both.
And that's bad.
Suddenly, it starts to make a lot of sense why Pablo Mastroeni kept emphasizing experienced veteran leadership even though the players to which he attributed said experienced veteran leadership performed poorly on the field. Because, in my view, he didn't have the support staff to coach this team all by himself.
No coach in the modern era of football does, especially not a first year coach.
Pablo Mastroeni is going to England to get a little tutelage from one Monsieur Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal FC (like I needed to tell you), who presides over a massive support structure. That's simply baffling. It makes the Rapids (and most MLS teams) look like a Rec League team by comparison. But that's not out of the question for most Premier League teams.
If the Rapids are looking to make big investments this year, and turn the results of the first team around, then they need to put a huge chunk of investment into their support staff. I hope we get to be reporting on this kind of stuff soon, because if you just look at our closest rivals, it's not even close. It's not even close before we begin to dig in to the special staff that teams have on (nutritionist, performance analyst and so on).
You might remember this quote from our interview with Paul Bravo a few weeks ago:
It's tough for Pablo to transition from being that player to being coach. And it may be tough for our fans to see how his playing days with translate into the coaching side of it. But I truly believe and we as a club truly believe that we have the right person in place steering that ship at that level and we will look to add more people around him that share in our philosophy and share in our identity.
"We will look to add more people..."
OK, Mr. Bravo, I say that the fans take you up on that.
Because how do the Rapids believe they will beat opponents by keeping a skeleton crew for their support staff? They can't.
So I'll do you a favor, oh mighty Rapids.
You want to catch up to the West and compete for trophies next year? Then check out this shopping list.
I'll tell YOU exactly what you need to shop for in your full time (yes I said FULL TIME) support staff. Heck, I'll even be nice and let you pick who gets to fill those positions.
[_] Assistant Coach
[_] Assistant Coach
[_] Fitness and Nutrition Coach
[_] Performance Analyst
[_] Massage Therapist
[_] Yoga Instructor (I threw that one in there for you, Jurgen)
What support staff like this does is they help you get the most out of the assets you already have, rather than having to rush to invest more money in players or make emergency moves for players as a transfer window slams shut. It keeps good players healthy and gives you critical knowledge of your opponents before matches. Support staff is there to give you an edge.
And the Rapids don't have any of it. No edges over any of their closest competition in the Western Conference, which has just gotten more competitive thanks to the subtraction of Chivas USA and the addition of Sporting KC and Houston Dynamo.
Of course, the Colorado Rapids don't need me to tell them what they need, but fans should be aware of this deficit and we at Burgundy Wave will be keeping track in the off-season of what steps the club takes in order to make 2015 a year so good we forget about 2014.
If they don't, and leave the whole management of the first team to just three guys, I suspect we will be seeing a repeat of 2014 no matter how much Pablo learns while in England.
If the Rapids want to show ambition to "win the offseason" in 2015 it starts right here.