"Three Points or Bust" - Shane O'Neill
The last three Rapids matches have been a microcosm of the last ten winless matches. In both home matches, against the Timbers and San Jose, the Rapids looked to be the better team (we won't discuss the Salt Lake debacle). For long stretches they controlled the game. Unfortunately soccer can be a cruel game and the goal scored by San Jose's Atiba Harris allowed San Jose to escape Denver with a point and stole three points from the yearning grasp of all Rapids fans.
At this point, even winning out, the Rapids would have 44 points which is insufficient to gain entry into the playoffs this year. And in some respects one has to wonder if it is even worth it to still try when the top 4 teams in the West (Seattle, LA, Real, and FC Dallas) have been dominant. Granted the 4th/5th game is a play in game with the winner most likely facing Seattle, who in all likelihood will be only the second team in MLS history to win 20 matches. While anything can happen, I think the Rapids would be better off seeing what they have on the current roster and deciding what 2015 will look like.
In this column a few weeks back, I had suggested the Rapids start seeing what they have on their roster, but Pablo has been very reluctant to mess with the player's up top and has only recently been mixing and matching the defense due to injuries. A couple of weekends ago the Rapids held their season ticket holder "Meet the Player's" event (which by the way Kudos to the Rapids for this, especially the day after a tough match). The one personality I got to meet was in Gale Abouggassie. A very approachable like-able man. I really wonder why we don't see him on the pitch? With such a depleted back four, one would think he would get a shot?
Which leads me to the gist of this story and that is the many unknowns who will make up the team for next year? With two new teams coming into league play next year, I am sure there will be poaching of current MLS teams. Based on the sudden merry go round of Rapid goal tenders. I wonder if the Rapids thinking is to get a good look at each of them and put one of them unprotected? Nasco and Irwin both have East Coast ties, one has to imagine it would be a wonderful opportunity for either of them. And with Gale, is it possible the Rapids have simply outfitted their team with draft throw a ways?
All in all the Rapids have made some head scratching moves this year. Conspiracy theorists abound when player starts and minutes are the only way to gauge any meaningful thoughts on what the Front Office might be thinking. In the end besides some key components I believe what we see on the pitch next March will be a different squad.
The expansion draft is scheduled for December 10th of this year with the current teams protected list due December 8. It is unknown what the rules will be for this go around but during the last expansion draft, teams were allowed to protect 11 players excluding Generation Adidas, homegrown, and most DPs. Once teams lose two players, they fall out of the draft. Rapids current roster has 28 players and the above rules would have Alvarez, Armstrong, Brown, Hairston, Mwanga (?), O'Neill, Serna, Watts (?) and Torres fall out. Mullan I assume retires. That leaves 18 players. Thus the protected players in my opinion would probably be - Agbossoumonde, Eloundou, Klute, Mari, Moor, Neekens, Piermayr, Powers, Sanchez, Van De Casteele, and a goalie (Berner/Nasco/Irwin). This would Buddle, Burch, Hill, LaBrocca, Wynne, and two goalies eligible for the draft. My guess then is that Rapids fully expect to lose a goalie.
So probably one reason we are seeing a goalie tryout is due to this upcoming draft. Word out of the camp this week we will see Nasco in goal against Seattle. Irwin has struggled this year compared to last year's break out season. For a goalie who seemingly was the heir apparent to be a USMNT goalie, this year has been disappointing. Have to wonder if a good goalie is a product of a good defense or makes a defense better? Either way I think Irwin will be kept around although the tossing of Pickens, a fan favorite, would suggest goalies for the Rapids are just interchangeable parts.
|Irwin||22 (32)||1976 (2873)||108 (132)||64 (91)||41 (35)||1.87 (1.10)||59 (69)|