This is another installment of The Interview Series, a look at the supporters, players and front office of the Colorado Rapids. Over the course of this season I have spoken with Colorado Rapids President Tim Hinchey about the team, discovered the anatomy of a supporter, chatted with players Kevin Doyle and Jared Watts and this is the second part of my conversation with Lads that produce the Flakoglost Podcast. In this installment, the boys try to answer the question: is Pablo Mastroeni the right guy to lead the Rapids.
Here is Part Two: Is There Hope For The Rapids
BW: So that leads to the question: is Pablo the guy?
Richard: I don't think so
Todd: There is a couple ways of breaking that down.
BW: It is not a simple yes or no.
Todd: You are correct. It is not a simple yes or no question. For now, yes, he is the right guy. But I think sometimes we forget that this is MLS. Who are you going to go out and get to come to MLS and more specifically Denver?
BW: Like we were just talking about, you are not going to get Big Sam (Sam Allardyce). Bob Bradley is not going to come to Colorado. No matter what certain supporters want, it is not going to happen.
Todd: I guess we are in it for the long haul. With the ups and downs. (Tim) Hinchey is not going to get rid of him.
Jose: I think he means so much to this club that its very hard. At the beginning of the season we walked about that even though we have the crapiest record, he was not going to get fired. He had the All-Star game coming so he was not going to get fired.
Richard: Yeah, that it is a bizarre sort of a move. I know they did that last year with Portland and Caleb Porter, but the Timbers at least have a better record and are more consistent then the Rapids. I think with Pablo, what's tough about him is that when you hire guy that was a club legend for so many years and you bring him in as his first head coaching role ever.
Todd: Right out of being a player
Richard: He had just retired. You are almost setting him up for failure in a sense. Unless you are at a super club like maybe AIK from Sweden.
Todd: It's like you are marrying the hottest girl in high school and then you have two kids and you realize you didn't love her in the first place. And its not like the club doesn't love Pablo, but it just feels like there are some strange dynamics to it. I know we all want to see him do well and be successful but I think he needs to mature and grow as a coach and not see him so ensconced in the "I'm going to be a defensive minded coach" but that was never his strong suit.
BW: You made the point earlier that the club plays like he played. You think about 2010, although we scored goals in 2010 so it's weird.
Todd: You don't hear about it as much this year, but last year he would have these comments like "well I can't go out there with the guys. I can't go out there and do it." Look, that's not what I want to hear. I don't want to hear that. I don't want to hear that you are still lusting over playing. That you miss it. Your job is to be a coach and be more pragmatic about being a coach and learning. I know Richard Fleming always calls Pablo a very cerebral guy. That means you have to get out of your head a little bit and accept where you are at and keep your boots on the ground and keep learning. I'm not saying that he's not, but I just worry for the long haul that we are going to be turning into one of these boring defensive teams.
Jose: As we were talking about the midfield, it is very defensive oriented, but at the same time I wonder about Claudio Lopez. I mean, he had a better career then Pablo did. Why didn't he get a chance. Why didn't that ever happen? I definitely think that Pablo is not the guy.
BW: And that's OK. I look at the situation and him and I honestly do not know. God, I want him to succeed. I don't know that there is a supporter that does not want him to succeed.
Richard: Maybe this is apples to oranges, but if this was England or Italy, Pablo would have been sacked last year. He would have been canned. After that LA and RSL debacle he would have been shown the door. If this were England or Italy, he would be gone. But it is not. This is Major League Soccer. The rules are a little different here and the club is giving him a shot which also is good but you have to see all of the different angles here. You just can't be the Richard Terry "I'm really upset because we got our ass kicked by Salt Lake" and wanting him fired right now. You have to be rational about this. And I think as a podcast we do a fairly good job of doing that and trying to being rational about it. Trying not to be Mexico this or USA that. We bring up points and evidence to back up our arguments.
Todd: The strangest thing about this. You make something. You throw it out there. It is kind of a hail mary and in the 27 recorded episodes you just don't know. You throw it out there and you really just do not know. You don't know how it is going to be received. I don't know. Going back to that first question, we just want people to be able to laugh at it. Or get the humor. And I really think that is what our intention is. We can poke fun at Sam Adekugbe of the Vancouver Whitecaps and I hope you get it too.
BW: Dude, you mentioned "Butts Up." I remember that crap from high school. If you were the douche that screwed up in practice....
Jose: Oh man, some of those shots hurt.
Richard: hell, yeah.
BW: I mean, you'd be limping. And not in a good way, all the way home. So getting back to it: where do the Rapids finish?
Todd: In the table or the Western Conference. or Both?
BW: Do both. Cause I am a big fricking proponent of a single table.
Todd, Richard and Jose: we all are
Richard: after the Seattle win and I was talking to my sister and my brother in law about it and he was like "hey man the Rapids have won three in a row. You guys gonna make the playoffs?" I told him no fricking way. I told him that there is no chance because they are too inconsistent. Like either we can't score or we have nil-nil draws and maybe get a point. Or we straight up lose 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City. And we get worked. The last three games, and I am not saying they are flukes. The Rapids were able to take advantage of some key player losses from RSL and Seattle. I thought we beat Vancouver fair and square.
Jose: but we are playing Kevin Doyle up top in his preferred #9 spot.
Richard: Yeah, and that is good and we need to see what happens from now. As of right now the Rapids finish eighth or ninth in the table.
Jose: Plus, if we are in the Eastern Conference we are in the playoff race.
Richard: So, yeah eighth or ninth in the West and overall 16th.
Jose: But this is why we need a single table. The Rapids would be right in the playoff race. I would think with a single table we definitely have a shot at it. But in the Western Conference? Not with Houston and SKC in it now. It is just too tough.
Todd: And Houston has Cubo Torres.
BW: And the Dynamo kicked the turd out of LA last recently
Todd: I think that to play devil's advocate to you Richard. You look at other fans, who are not Rapids fans. Look at the Dallas win. I mean, we killed Dallas 4-0. You could say that it was flukey and that Dallas really didn't show up for that game, but they did. But the Rapids played really well.:
Richard: And Serna had a sweet strike in that one as well.
Todd: The Rapids are going to take advantage of opportunities that they have. Some could say that the Sounders did not have our B squad and it took a Jared Watts long ball to Kevin Doyle to score. And I think a lot people look at that and see those kinds of results and say "well it's cute that you won three in a row but you are still bottom of the Western Conference." I think there are a number of other results that the Rapids could have had that could have gone their way and we would be on our way.
Jose: So many ties this year.
Richard: Nine draws
Todd: But going back to the inconsistency piece. I don't know I just think we are still trying to find out what players are needed and how they all fit together. So I think we are a mid table team. We are like a Stoke City.
BW: I think that's fair. We are not a playoff team. Win three more in a row and make it six, then we can talk.
Richard: If we beat LA on the weekend, which is possible as we are at home.
BW: Four of the next six are at home. Win all four in August at home, and well. Things are more possible then.
Richard: But two tough games in row: LA and Columbus.
BW: And it ends with Sporting as the very last home game in August.
Richard: Yeah, Sporting is coming out. With 1,000 supporters.
Todd: I would not be surprised.
Jose: Last year, man, they brought a ton of fans.
Todd: It was embarrassing the last SKC tailgate. To show up and have it be all Sporting fans and no Rapids fans. It is a disgrace. So embarrassing.
Jose: We were outnumbered for sure.
Richard: Yeah, they are going to have a lot of fans.
BW: Last one. Super Easy. How would you fix the team:
Jose: How would I fix the team? Damn...
Todd: Well, let me just say this. If rumors are to be believed about this whole Cubo Torres thing. And the league interfering and even though Colorado had the highest monetary bid for him and then (MLS) saying no, he is going to Houston anyways. There are some bigger issues that need to be fixed. And if KSE really wanted a player like that and MLS said no. That is just sad for us. And it is unfortunate. And if the All-Star game, and again this is a rumor, a kick to the Rapids as a "sorry we interfered, but we will give you this instead." I just don't think we should lose sight of that. The league office as a single entity are going to a lot of things like interference.
The thing that is concerning for me is that we are hearing almost nothing from Paul Bravo this year. And I am worried about some of the players that have been brought it and their ability to gel as a team. I will give it this year as like these players playing with each other. But it seems to me that we need that cog in the wheel. A very creative midfielder. That should be one of our main focuses. For Colorado having a Giovinco or a Cubo Torres starlet. Something that could at least make it seem pretty or make it seem attacking enough. So I guess that is where I would start. I think defense is always going to be Pablo's thing. So I am not worried about that and he will find these diamonds in the rough and make them Chad Marshall mean. But I just worry that a Dillon Powers is going to play better with a Giovinco-like player with him. Heck, anyone would. So, I don't know. It seems like with where the league is going the Rapids really need to go out and get someone like that.
BW: Are the Rapids in danger of being left behind?
Jose: I totally agree with what Todd is saying. We need that one player that makes everyone better. There are all of these big name players out there that are going into these big markets and I hope that eventually someone is going to drop and come to Colorado. Really, I think we just need that one big name.
Richard: Kevin Doyle is star, no doubt.
Jose: Yeah, that goal against Seattle. Not everyone scores that one.
BW: But does the average soccer fan in Colorado know who Kevin Doyle is?
All: No, no no.
Todd: But the average soccer fan in Colorado does not know where Dick's Sporting Goods Park is.
BW: (all laugh) That's another story in itself.
Todd: it's way the heck out there! Are you kidding me?!?!?!?
BW: Is that Kansas?
(More laughter at the perceptiion that DSGP is in Kansas.
BW: Is it as simple as the one big name to get butts in the seats?
Todd: No, I don't think it is about butts in the seats. I think for the supporters, the three of us, we would all love to see someone who has that technical ability, prowess and knowhow. That ability to play the game. And I worry about guys like Sam Cronin, and I watched him in the All-Star Game, and its like, alright you're out there and your doing position play, but other than that?
Richard: I think you have to get somebody who is creative in the midfield and somebody who is not afraid to take on players, like a Juan Ramirez, or Charles Eloundou. Two attack minded players who will burn people but then shank their shot 20 feet away from goal. You have to have someone who that can not only distribute the ball extremely well but also has the positioning to make people around him better.
So that is one way that you start to fix the team. But unfortunately we live in a little bubble in MLS and as a single entity, it effects teams. And it favors the big teams. And it favors the Montreal's of the league. So Chicago has the rights to Didier Drogba, but he wants to play in Montreal. Well they work out a deal so that Chicago trades the rights to Drogba and gets something in return that makes it worth it to them. Its stupid. And when the dust settles it just looks like a farce.
Todd: We have had this discussion before that there are good players on this team but they are just not good enough to compete in MLS right now. And we just need that one player that is going to make everyone else better on the field. And we just don't have that right now.
Jose: And I think it is that finishing in the final third. Like Richard said, we have the Juan Ramirez and the Charles Eloundou but they can't put the ball in the net. And you just need to get that one attacking midfielder who can get that assist and get everyone going. You have that and everyone could be clicking.
Richard: Even Dillon Powers missing a penalty kick in Salt Lake. I mean it is Dillon Powers. I know on the field, he probably had the most experience taking penalties. But he missed the goal.
Todd: I have yet to meet anyone who does not like Dillon. He is a great guy and a good player.
Richard: I know he felt really bad and I actually was a bit alcohol abused at the time and I called him out on twitter to apologize to the fans for missing that kick. I might not have been the most level headed thing to do. I do hope Powers stays. I get it. Missing penalties happens. I get it.
BW: So is Dillon being punished for missing that kick?
Richard: No, I think it has more to do with the formation change. Pablo is going with three midfielders right now and as we know Pablo is going to go defensive. So obvious it is going to be Sam Cronin and Marcelo Sarvas and Lucas Pittinari. Powers has been coming on as a sub.
Jose: Our midfield is very defensive and it can work. But you need that one guy
Todd: You look at Chelsea winning the Premier League last season. They were incredibly boring, but they had that one guy in the middle (Eden Hazard) who is going to be the difference maker. That is what the Rapids need.
BW: all right guys, thanks so much for chatting with me.
Todd, Jose and Richard: Our pleasure. Thank you.