Someone got on me after my post the other day, saying that it 'wasn't angry enough'. That person will likely enjoy this post quite a bit, since it's going to be plenty angry. I really don't know what to feel after the sham that they called a 'Rapids fan forum' yesterday, but the emotion that I'm currently feeling is anger. There's a bit of confusion in there, along with a healthy dose of depression, but it's mostly anger.
Why am I mad? Because they insulted us with what they said in that fan forum. I was expecting them to come out and dodge questions and spew platitudes about hard work and the like, but I wasn't expecting the bullshit show that we received. Borrowing quotes from JPR's post, here's what made me so angry.
It was full of doublethink
For every single quote about how they are "bitterly disappointed with where we are today", there was another quote about how "the playoffs are still a realistic possibility". First they're "not where they want to be" and then they're frustrated because they're just "so close". So which is it? This team clearly can't say that they're good -- any attempt to would be laughed out of the room, and they know that -- but they're trying everything in their power to pretend like they are.
I said in my post the other day that this was a team that blatantly refused to talk about the fact that the team was not playing attractive soccer, and was instead playing the opposite. This was met by a response of "we want to play attacking soccer". That's it.
To the thought that 'they're working on it' or 'they're so close', they're not. It's not just the eyeball test that tells us that. The Rapids currently have 87 shots on goal, good for fourth worst in MLS. They have 300 shots, one of the highest tallies in MLS. You know what that tells you? They're taking god-awful shots! If you chuck it from the halfway line of the field at the goalie and he catches it, that's certainly a shot but not one that you're going to see on Sportscenter any time soon. And that's what this team has become. They're also fifth in MLS in corner kicks. This is a team that takes a ton of low-percentage shots, mostly from outside the box, that are generally either blocked or miss the target completely. Most of the shots they do take from inside the box are either headers from one of the 80 crosses they attempt every match or runs from Kevin Doyle etc. all on their own.
There is a problem with finishing on this team, but to pretend that's the biggest issue with the squad's offense right now is disingenuous at best and completely lacking in brainpower at worst.
There were also mentions of personnel on the team at times.
We want an attacking style of play based on strong foundations of discipline.
Unfortunately we haven't always been in a position to get the player we want at the right time.
No, sorry, you don't get to blame the players on being the worst attacking team in the league at this point. This is not 2010 DC United or 2012 Chivas USA, who respectively scored 21 and 24 goals in those seasons. Those teams had terrible personnel at the heart of their problems. The Rapids aren't giving big minutes to terrible midfields and forwards like Casey Townsend and Danny Allsopp. (Remember when Allsopp scored against the Rapids? Fun times.)
This team has clear and easy to spot talent in the attack. Powers. Serna. Torres. Hell, Kevin Doyle might be old, but he's a poacher. There is no class of player that has scored more goals in MLS history than poachers! Even mediocre poachers can get 10 goals a season if they're used right in this goddamn league! Conor Casey essentially won the Rapids an MLS Cup on his own after a season of magnificent poaching! Chris Wondolowski has gotten a complete USMNT and MLS career from being able to sneak behind really shitty defenses and you're telling me Kevin Doyle, a man once feared in the Premier League, can't snag goals?
This is not a personnel problem, this is a tactical problem, and the team will absolutely never admit it, either to us or to themselves.
They don't understand that a lack of experience is hurting them
One section of the meeting featured Pablo talking about how he doesn't 'go rogue' with any of his decisions. Everything was in the open. That's still not a particularly good thing. I think Ben put it best:
Pablo doesn't go rogue. He consults his coaching staff who has even less experience than he does on every decision he makes.— The Rapids Apologist (@thelosthooligan) August 11, 2015
Look, Pablo is pretty much the shitty Jurgen Klinsmann. He's a great motivator of men who knows fuck-all about tactics. Unfortunately, while Klinsmann has always had (for better or worse) a tactical maestro of some sort by his side to handle the actual soccery parts of a match, Pablo has no such person. His coaching staff is greener than the spray paint that they use to cover the sawdust that comprises Sporting Park's pitch. And as Kermit once told us, it's (just finish the damn joke yourselves).
They can't just get away with saying that they talk amongst each other regarding tactical and personnel decisions, because there's very little experience in the room when those talks are happening. John Metgod, the experienced voice in the room that they brought in to help Pablo last year, bolted from the scene under mysterious circumstances and still has yet to be replaced. Paul Bravo is not a coach, and neither is Tim Hinchey.
The rest of his coaching staff has little to no top coaching experience, excepting the experienced Steve Cooke. It's still a pretty bare-bones staff as well, with every coach on the team other than Pablo having multiple other duties. Cooke works heavily with the academy. Claudio Lopez isn't even officially listed as a coach, but rather as Director of Soccer. Brian Mullan is a coach and community ambassador. Chris Sharpe is a coach, but works more than anything with the goalkeepers. (And may we say he's doing a wonderful job in that regard!) This is a staff that desperately needs more names. Discussing things internally is great, but if you ask a group of first-year mechanical engineering students to invent things they're not yet taught to understand, it's not going to end well.
This team desperately needs a tactical wizard to come in and participate in these discussions, but the team seems completely oblivious to that fact.
They think we're idiots
Seriously, they would have gotten more respect from me if they had just come out and said "You're a bunch of idiots who don't know what's good for you". They didn't say that out loud at any point, but my goodness were some of those quotes hilariously insulting. Take a look at this quad-quote from Paul Bravo:
Who are we building the club around: Dillon Powers.
He has shown he can be a top player in this league.
Another player I would put in there is Dillon Serna.
And the last one would be Juan Ramirez. A guy with tremendous upside.
Are you fucking kidding me?
You're seriously going to say that and then expect us to be all like, "Oh, okay! Guess you really do know what you're doing!"? Dillon Powers is the only player among those three that has gotten a really good chunk of playing time, with 1387 minutes. Most of those came at the start of the season, however, and it's been noted approximately a trillion times that he can't buy his way onto the field lately with the triple-defensive-midfielder set that the team has been throwing out. Hell, the last time that he got an appearance was the LA Galaxy game, where I jokingly made this tweet:
I'm looking forward to Pablo using this as an excuse only to remove Powers from the lineup somehow #Rapids96— Burgundy Wave (@Burgundywave) August 2, 2015
Guess what happened? The next game, the only major line-up change was Powers being removed so the defense could be changed. If this is your franchise player, the guy you feel that you can build a team around, you don't remove him at the slightest provocation. You don't give him only 15 starts in 22 matches. The other two players, Ramirez and Serna, have received a whopping 1022 and 391 (!!) minutes. Combine the three players, the three that Paul Bravo called the three players they were building the franchise around, together and they have exactly 2800 minutes combined. The two top players in terms of minutes on the team, defensive midfielders Lucas Pittinari and Sam Cronin, have 2958 minutes combined. Minutes don't lie, yo.
They talked of consistency being the key for first team minutes, while neither the leading goal scorer (Gabriel Torres) nor the leading assist-getter (Dillon Powers) started in the last match. And Gold Cup aside for Torres, neither of those players have consistently seen the field since the very start of the season despite the fact that they were literally the only ones creating points for the team for the first few months of the year. What the fuck is consistency? Is it Charles Eloundou looking like Quincy Amarikwa on crack with his every first touch? Is it Vicente Sanchez dribbling the hell out of opponents only to miss his crosses every time as age finally catches up to him? Is it James Riley being unable to mark a damn scarecrow?
The team's best center back is playing at right back. The team's young defensive midfielder with great potential, who just had a monster of a match when finally at defensive midfielder, has spent most of the year playing center back. The team's new DP striker has been playing as an attacking midfielder. The team's best attacking midfielder is playing on the wing. The team's best winger isn't playing at all. What's consistency? What are positions? Why not just go all-out total football and just go out and run the Flying V? Play the reverse of how they did in the fucking 1800's and go with an 8-1-1 formation! You know you want to! Hey, just say that you're working on the attacking soccer but all the pieces just aren't falling the right way for you!
The Serna mention is the most insulting of all. The kid has the best shot conversion ratio among forwards and midfielders on the team with 25% of his shots going in. He has more goals than anyone named Gaby Torres and everyone else with two goals has twice or more minutes as him logged. Bravo's right, Serna is a special talent and one the team should be building around, but clearly is not. This isn't a 'well, maybe' situation. There is no 'well, maybe' involved with his only having four starts in 22 matches and 391 total minutes. They have taken possibly their most potential-ridden player, one that has the USMNT's attention and has since he was a teenager, and left him to rot on the bench. But hey, the spirit of the team just can't be beat!
This is insulting, and I can't possibly see things getting any better with time.
This isn't a situation where things were going great and then, all of a sudden, a tough spell hit and the fans were uproarious far too soon. I've preached patience more than almost any Rapids fan I know; I'm the guy that people were calling a Rapids shill for years because I was way too accepting and nice when moves that looked iffy happened. I defended the Mastroeni hire for a year and a half because of the silliness of dropping a young coach too soon, just as I did for Oscar Pareja. But this is not that situation. This is not a young coach learning new things as he goes. This is a team that says one thing and does another, that preaches one philosophy and plays another, that touts players and then benches them. This is a team that is lost in a delusion of competency and growth while their team rots on the pitch and their results flounder. This is a team that pats themselves on the back for moves they've made while they oversee a transfer window where all they did of note was lose a center back and replace him with two new center backs, one of whom is considerably worse.
This isn't a team that has peaks and valleys. The last two seasons have been one enormous valley. The team has won five games from last August to this August and in only one of those matches (FC Dallas away) can we really, truly say that we outplayed the opposition to any major degree. They have 20 goals in 22 games while saying that they're preaching attack-minded soccer. This team is absolute fucking shit, and despite what the people in charge have deluded themselves into thinking, it's going to take an absolute fucking miracle to change that. And most sad of all, this sham of a fan forum only continues to pound home the conclusion that they're going to stay that way for a very, very long time.
I'm going to go take 26 Bupropion and have a seizure now. Christ.