This was not the article that I had planned on writing.
I had this really nice piece put together about why you might bench a starting goalkeeper, in this case Clint Irwin, for a backup in Joe Nasco. I had listened to the Rapids Podcast last week and they were discussing the goalkeeper change and as someone who played keeper in high school and college I felt like I could offer some insight into the psyche and craziness that is required to play that role.
And then Friday happened.
It was a brutal and terrible display of soccer and to add insult to injury it was on national TV. There was no way that anyone on the Colorado Rapids sideline could have drawn up a scenario like that. I can see it now:
"Well guys, we are going to let them drive down the left side of the pitch, lose our man who is crossing the ball and then get our goalkeeper ejected in the first 34 seconds as he is trying to prevent a goal. OH, and we can go down 1-0 as well!"
Yeah, that's how they drew it up.
So the Lads go down early and then end up getting blown out. I may be in the minority here, but I did not think they played that badly considering the circumstances. Losing your stater in goal and one of your most creative players (Dillon Serna) is simply a recipe for disaster.
So the match happened and it has to be filed away.
But what got me was reading some of the comments on social media from supporters saying things that are not helpful right now. So I am going to tackle these as a supporter of this team:
1) Pablo should not be sacked--I asked this question on Friday whether or not Pablo should be sacked after a performance like Friday night. Look, I get that people are pissed and frustrated. I was pissed about Friday night, but firing Pablo is NOT THE ANSWER. He is a first year coach who has been on the job (officially) for six months. Read that again, six months. He inherited players that he did not select and is trying to figure out what he has and what player can fill each role. This is not an easy thing to deal with and it is doubly difficult as a member of the Rapids Gallery of Honor. What the fans expect from him is sometimes unrealistic. And would you fire a guy after only six months when he is still implementing his system? I think not.
2) Paul Bravo should be fired--lets see here...since Bravo has been in town, we have drafted/picked/signed players like Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers, Dillon Serna, Clint Irwin, Vicente Sanchez, Gabriel Torres, Shane O'Neill, etc....not a bad track record. Bravo has had an eye for talent and has brought guys in that fit the system that the team wants to play. Remember when Jeff Plush and Gary Smith were in charge: the football was ugly and difficult to take. Yes, it did lead to an MLS Cup Championship, but that was won with as much play on the field as it was to great fortune being flipped to the Eastern Conference. Has Bravo hit a homerun every time with his signings, no. That will never happen. But the bulk of his signings have been solid.
3) Tim Hinchey does not know what he is doing--seriously? As someone who had been through the Plush years I can guarantee you that Hinchey knows what he is doing. Is it a coincidence our first Designated Player happened under Hinchey's watch? Is it a coincidence that the fan experience has gotten better at DSGP? Or that we have a shirt sponsor first time ever? Not to mention the academies are fully funded now. The commitment from Hinchey to continually look for younger players, homegrown players who believe in the Colorado Way will pay off in the long term. It will make this organization more stable and the growth will be more organic rather than going out and signing the big name that is only coming here for the money.
4) So you say you are going give up going to Rapids games because of this season--to that I say, really? I read it multiple times on Friday and Saturday that people were so pissed that they were going to stop going to matches. Obviously that is an individual decision and I am a believe in everyone needs to make their own choice. But to say you are not going to go to a match, or give up a season ticket because of Pablo doing this or that, or Bravo not signing the right players, or Hinchey not knowing what he is doing is a load of crap. Look, if you don't want to support this team because of bad year, fine. But if you are a fan of any other team, how can you handle it. Is the bandwagon too small? Teams have ups and downs and as a supporter of this team, I will be there in thick and thin. End of story.
OK, so I had a few things on my chest to get off. And yes, Pablo, Bravo and Hinchey are not perfect and make mistakes (just like the rest of us). But I am more optimistic this year then in years past. This is a franchise that finally feels like it is making the right strides for the future and although this season has not gone as well as it could have, there is still plenty to be happy about in Commerce City.
And so it brings me back to the Measure of a Supporter. This Saturday is a massive match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Our Beloved Burgundy Boys need us there in full voice behind them, urging them on. If the Lads go down a goal, we need to be there to cheer even louder. We need to help them get it back and make the Timbers regret coming to Colorado. If we go up a goal we need to be there to cheer so loud that the Timbers can't hear themselves think so we can step on their throats and bury them. The Rapids need us badly. We need to show them we are behind them.
After all, isn't that what Bleeding Burgundy is all about?