The Interview Series was created to hear the voices of players, supporters and front office staff who have a stake in the Rapids. This interview follows discussions with Rapids President Tim Hinchey, The Anatomy of a Supporter, A Chat With Kevin Doyle and a conversation with Jared Watts.
Last Thursday at the British Bulldog Pub I had a chance to sit down and talk all things soccer with the Lads who bring us the Flakoglost Podcast each week. I found Todd, Jose and Richard very down to Earth and likable and it was very clear from the outset how much making this podcast means to them. They take it seriously, but do their best to not take it that seriously. It was a very enjoyable couple of hours and our topics conversation ranged from the state of the Colorado Rapids, how Pablo Mastroeni is doing as a coach, and how in the heck they came up with the name for the Pod.
Here is part one, "What's In A Name?"
Burgundy Wave: So why the pod and why now?
Richard: Great question, why don't we have Todd start and Jose and I will chime in.
Todd: I would say that it came out of an existential crisis to be honest with you about doing something creative. And I live here and we all live here. In fact where you guys (Richard and myself) were sitting is where I met Richard five years ago and he wouldn't shut up
Richard: Yeah, I wouldn't shut up
Todd: Yep, he would not shut up
Richard: He was wearing a US Mens National Team kit. It might have been an Altidore on the back.
Todd: Nah, it was one of the old, old ones. And I used to play against Jose for a year and I didn't even know him. But getting back to the question, I don't know, we have a really good strong friendship amongst a lot of people down here and nothing more to it but that soccer consumes our lives. And literally, I am obsessed with podcasts and so I listen to them ranging from Ted Radio Hour to WTF with Mark Maron and so when it comes to soccer it seems like other that Dunord or if it is on permanent hiatus now. It just seemed like there is room for more. So I don't know if that sums it up. It just felt like there was an opportunity there.
Jose: Yeah, with us it seems like with the way the MLS is growing it felt like there was a good chance for us and we have all been fans of the MLS for a long time now. I mean, I have been a fan since like 1999 or 2000 and seeing the growth and seeing the new expansion teams coming in and I think we wanted to be part of that conversation.
Richard: Yeah, basically Todd called us up late last year year—I want to say December...no, wait it was November
Todd and Jose: No, it was September, October time frame.
Richard: yeah that's right. Time flies. So he called us up and said "hey man, I am thinking about starting a podcast centered around soccer. Would that be something that you are interested in." I said absolutely. I live, eat, breathe soccer. Whether it is MLS or the Premier League. Hell, I even like the Italian league. And I try and follow Liga MX but I don't know it as well as the others but I like it and it is a good league. And obviously the National Team, the USA National team. So when Todd asked me I said I'd be honored, that'd be great. I did not know anything about podcasting at all so it has been a fun learning curve and we still have a lot to learn. But at the same time it has been really neat and really cool and I think that my personality, and I don't want to speak for anyone else, it has been really fun and a lot of people know I am pretty talkative. Pretty outgoing.
Jose: We are the ones waking up at 5 in the morning coming here to watch Premier League. We are the ones that are doing it all the time and we dedicate a lot of our lives to soccer.
BW: I don't judge. I follow Burnley, obviously, and I have been that guy up at 5:45 drinking a pint and watch them play. If I am still drunk from the night before, it is at my house. I don't judge. I get the eating, breathing, living soccer. I get it. Soccer is one of those few sports that is on year round. So one of the things that has been nice about your pod is that you are MLS focused, but you will talk about Men's National Team, Women's National Team, Gold Cup, those kinds of things. A lot of the other pods that are out there are strictly EPL—maybe Bundesliga. How did you guys choose the format for the pod? Is it just because you live here in the States?
Todd: (chuckles) I don't even know what our format is! I get what you are saying.
BW: There is some alcohol, some swearing...
Todd: I think it comes back to living in your niche. We could have done something about EPL, but I think there is a lot to be said for living within that niche. We know this culture pretty well and I don't think its...well, there are a lot of other podcasts that are out there that are specific to their team. But I think that there is a story there. Not that we are the narrators necessarily, but it is worth something to talk about. Cause as you look at the statistics of people getting into MLS it keeps going up every year. Yet, we see these ironies and discrepancies that we are talking about and I don't know if a lot of people know about it. And so I think as Americans, and I know I go down this tangent, but it's about supporting your local club, your national league and again it seemed like there was an opportunity there.
BW: That's a great point because you see people who say "I love football. But if its not fricking Arsenal or fricking Chelsea, I don't care. And MLS is just crap."
Richard: We call that "Eurosnobbery" in a sense. And that's a whole other conversation.
BW: One of the things that makes your pod so enjoyable is that it is not just the Rapids. Certainly you do talk about the Rapids, but it is also MLS as a whole.
Richard: To piggy back off what Todd was saying we are all big Rapids fans. Jose and I grew up in Colorado and since, for me, 2010 I have been a member of the supporters group. At that point it was BSG (Bulldog Supporters Group) and I knew a lot of the Pid Army guys and then Todd came out to BSG and then Jose and we all have been involved with the supporters group to a degree and helped out in different ways. And we all know a lot of people within that culture of the supporters. And we have all traveled to many away games. Including places like Seattle, Portland, KC, Salt Lake.
BW: You haven't lived until you have almost been arrested in Sandy, Utah.
All: (we are all laughing at this point) yep, that's right
BW: So, getting back to it. What's with the name man?
Richard: (laughs) that is another question for Todd
BW: I mean, if you can tell. If it's all top secret, I don't want to know necessarily.
Richard: it's not top secret at all and I think it is briefly mentioned in our first pod.
Todd: The name, I don't know. There is a whole psychology behind it that I probably couldn't explain but obviously it is not a word, but it was easier to come up with a word that you could get a domain on.
Richard: Yeah, exactly
BW: My daughter thinks it is a word. It pulls up on my phone and my daughter says "Daddy is that Flakoglost and is that a beer?"
Richard: Yeah, we will brew it eventually. (laughs) But Todd wanted something that could come up really easily on a search engine. We wanted something totally unique that would distinguish us from anything else that is out there.
Jose: You google us, we will show up
Todd: I know it would probably behoove us to have something MLS in the title. It would help us get more people listening. But I would rather have 1,000 dedicated listeners interact with us on twitter or Facebook or whatever then 10,000 casual listeners. I would rather have, again, living within the niche. But going back to the name, there is actually this. Flako is actually an old English term that is loosely defined as a young English drunk essentially. And grog is the old watered down drink that you'd give sailors to stave off scurvy. And well, grog-tone. I mean, we are drinking half the time. And now whenever we do talk in places like this we are having a beverage. And with "glost" is glazed, so you know: A drunken glazed tone.
Richard: It was pretty funny when Todd said we are gonna call ourselves "Flakoglost" and I was like "what the hell does that mean."
Jose: I even googled it and I was like I didn't find shit on it. I even tried both words and nothing.
Richard: I think the name is kind of catchy.
Todd: It is hard to get at first, but once you remember it the intention is that you will not forget it.
BW: What people have told me is that you are easy to listen to, down to Earth and you don't take yourselves too seriously. I mean, there are other podcasts out there that are not like that at all.
Todd: if there is a soccer podcast out there, I have listened to it.
Jose: I think that really was the intent. When we started we wanted to have fun with it and I think we really do.
BW: OK, so lets talk about the Rapids.
All: (a big groan is emitted by everyone at this point)
BW: So let's ask it—what is going right and what is going wrong?
Jose: what's going right....what's going right? Well, I think a couple of things. But what is going right? I would like to say our defenders. Axel Sjoberg is one of them and Drew Moor is back from injury.
BW: Drew looked good last night (at the All-Star Game). Harry Kane is not easy to play against.
Richard: yeah. Drew looked good last night.
Jose: I like our midfield. I like that Sarvas is playing well. I like that Kevin Doyle is playing well right now.
Richard: I think it is fair to say that throughout the course of the season is their defensive ability. Sure, Pablo has not had the same back four for the whole season. Clint Irwin, fantastic goalkeeper. Deserved the raise he got last year. And hopefully he gets another one soon because he is fricking good.
BW: His backup makes almost twice what he makes
Richard: MacMath? At least he is on loan. But I hear what you are saying. Axel Sjoberg, rookie, but I think he has a lot of potential. We all love Drew Moor. Bobby Burling, he is kind of hit or miss, but he has overall been alright. Jared Watts, we all know he has not been our favorite player, but Irwin has saved Watts on several occasions. Remember Seattle 45 seconds in. But like overall defensively, the Rapids have very good stats defensively. But what has gone wrong? Scoring goals has been a problem and especially before this mini winning streak. Scoring goals is a big problem. Luis Solignac is not scoring goals and has not scored since he came to the club. Gabriel Torres could score early on but has not scored in a long time.
BW: Since the 1-1 tie at LA Galaxy.
Jose: But at the same time he (Torres) has been gone for part of that.
Richard: So, I mean, another thing that has gone wrong overall (aside from these last three games) is coaching. I have been critical of Pablo Mastroeni until now and I am still not sure he is the right person for this team. I think he shuffled the lineup way too much, but now in this win streak he has kept it similar and the formation at 4-3-3.
BW: It begs the question. I am all for squad rotation but you have a Starting XI for a reason.
Todd: I think this team plays like Pablo did. I think what I am excited for this year is Clint Irwin playing consistent minutes and I don't necessarily think that has anything to do with Zac MacMath coming in and stealing his spot. I think part of it is the defense has been shored up, but I felt like last year Clint Irwin was unfairly targeted.
BW: Made the scapegoat?
Todd: Yeah, and I thought it was absolute nonsense.
Richard: His backup was absolutely awful. I can't? I don't even remember his name.
BW: Joe Nasco?
Richard: Nasco was terrible. He was a bad a goalkeeper.
BW: Oh, that fricking red card.
Richard: It wasn't even that. It was the Salt Lake game where we lost 5-1. It was a complete disaster.
Todd: So, I would agree with Richard that the defense is nice compared to how leaky we were last year. But I worry not that we have overcorrected but that we have spent so much time on the defense that we have forgotten what to do when we get to the middle of the park. It seems like there is no answer once we get in midfield. It seems like we lack that creative attack in the middle of the park and to hold on to the ball.
Richard: Sam Cronin and Lucas Pittinari, in my opinion are not long term answers. Marcelo Sarvas is older, but he is very, very good. And he is one of the best defensive mids in MLS.
Todd: I worry about, and I talk about this a lot, not for the Rapids sake so much, but more US Men's National Team stuff. Guys like Dillon Serna or Shane O'Neill that I just feel they are not getting the minutes they deserve. Even if they have to go on loan. But we really do not have that system and we are not going to give them to someone else in the MLS. But in Europe I could see them going there and getting a lot of minutes and I worry that they are just not getting those here. I think there is a lot of upside to both of those guys and maybe this will be the silver lining. In O'Neill's case he started off as a phenom and now he has been sitting on the bench.
Jose: It is always about playing time with Dillon. We always talk about that.
BW: You look at Dillon Powers or Marlon Hairston. I look at Hairston and I don't know what we have in him cause he is not playing.
Todd: Weren't they thinking about defense for a while with Hairston?
Jose: Like a right back sort of thing?
BW: He went to Charlotte and actually won player of the week in USL as a right back, but since he has gotten back. Nothing. Players like Charles Eloundou. Young. Raw. What do we have in him? So that leads to the question: is Pablo the guy?
That question and more is answered tomorrow in the conclusion to this interview!