I have a theory.
I think that the top men in the Colorado Rapids organization are acutely aware that the team is an embarassment and is spiraling down into madness at record speed, but they can't think of any way to deal with it. Obviously, I can't prove this outright, and fans are going to continue to lambaste the team for being a motley crew of idiots all off-season long, but I still can't believe that the team can possibly be as stupid as they've let on this year.
Being ignorant of things is one thing, but I've talked to Paul Bravo many times before. He might not be a great technical director, but he knows what the hell he's talking about when he's talking about the game of soccer. He's not stupid. He knows the game, he knows the dynamics of how things work; he's a smart soccer guy even if he's not been that adept at pairing with Pablo Mastroeni to find good talent over the past two seasons.
So when I hear Bravo saying something as absolutely insane as this...:
"Getting the ball in to Vicente in a wide area and letting him create — it's one of the reasons why we sit dead last in goal-scoring," Bravo said last month. "And we didn't have enough production. We need to become more multifaceted, especially in the final third."
...I can't possibly believe he believes a single word he's saying. So desperately trying to avoid talking about horrible coaching to the point that you're blaming your offense being bad on the fact that one of your players was too talented? A chimpanzee playing Football Manager wouldn't even manage to come to such a silly conclusion. Anyone with the gift of sight who watched the Rapids last season knows full well that Sanchez being too talented wasn't the problem with the offense; the fact that players had to loft the ball forward to lone attackers like Sanchez and, later in the season, Kevin Doyle, was solely because the rest of the team was clearly being asked to sit back when possible and brilliant solo efforts were about the best they could do. Turns out that's not a talent problem; that's a coaching problem.
Despite that, Bravo was saying the most mind-blowingly dumb thing I've ever heard. He is not that stupid, and the Rapids as a whole cannot possibly be that stupid. Incompetence is one thing. Undeniable idiocy is quite another. I think the team is just desperately making excuses, anywhere they can, to try and cover up the horrible spiral that the team is in right now because of their head coach.
Here's why I think they're doing that: They latched their ship 100% onto the Mastroeni train back in 2014. There was no real interview process going on that we heard of after Oscar Pareja left, and assurances were made fast and often that Mastroeni would be working in the footsteps of his predecessor. "The Rapids Way" was to continue full-stop according to everyone at the top, and because of those assurances they passed through the draft to the season with essentially no sniffs at anyone but Mastroeni for the managerial spot. The train was hitched to Coach Pablo.
Here's the thing: if things had merely gone wrong, changes might have been able to be made by them. Everyone makes mistakes, including the front offices of sports teams. Two years of bad play would probably have spelled the end for Oscar Pareja, and two years of bad play probably would have spelled the end for Pablo as well, or at least allowed the Rapids to raise questions or dip their toes in the water of a new coaching search. Unfortunately, the Rapids haven't just been bad, they've been an unmitigated disaster. Nobody, not even those who thought the hire was a bad idea at the start, could have predicted how absolutely hilariously things could have gone wrong for the Rapids with Mastroeni at the helm.
It's not just a downgrade since 2013; I've never seen a sports team go from so promising, young, fun and interesting to old, awful, impossible to watch and terrible in such a short amount of time. Nearly every player that we were lauding in 2013 is gone, and Dillon Powers looks to be the next to go while they've already made Clint Irwin's job look in jeopardy with the Zac MacMath signing. The team plays unwatchable soccer with no real attacking strategy as far as anyone can tell. The captainship was taken from the team's best defender and most fan-favorite remaining player before he was unceremoniously cut.
Essentially, the Rapids have taken this:
And turned it into this:
...all in the span of less than two years. It's rather incredible, really.
It's the worst collapse that anyone could have possibly imagined, and Pablo has been the man at the helm of all of it. The guy that the Rapids touted as the man to replace Pareja has done his own thing instead for two years, with disastrous results. All the Rapids brass can do now is damage control. If they don't try and hang on, desperately hoping that he actually improves in his third year -- it's worth noting that at this point, even a coaching improvement from Pablo is likely not going to help this dismantled, old and disjointed team -- they're going to be the ones to blame, and I doubt even the Avs and Nuggets favoring Josh Kroenke is going to be able to ignore it for much longer.
They've dug themselves too deep. The second this front office admits how horrendous a job their manager of choice is doing, and how much worse things continue to get, incredibly tough questions are going to have to be asked of them. Chicago just nuked their entire organization after being the worst team in MLS last year. I doubt the Rapids brass wants those same questions to be asked of them.