We have eight games left, and I'll bet my lunch money on the fact that we will go:
I base this not on our opponents, or some highly advanced mathematics on expected goals, or road vs. home possession stats. It's just a feeling. It's hard for a team thats been below average all season to suddenly run off eight straight victories, which is likely what the Rapids need to creep into the playoffs. It's just too much luck needed in too many situations. It means that we are, at best, going to get 12 points, when the stats gurus out there pretty much think we need minimum 16 points to make the playoffs. Still, I'd be thrilled if it happens.
I've already done the bit where we talk about hoping to see Pablo play the kids, and that we probably won't make the playoffs. So at this point, there's only a few other things I'd like to see before this season ends:
-> I want the Colorado Rapids to announce that Vicente Sanchez is coming back for one more year
Sanchez has been healthy, he's played the full 90 many times, and last week he buried Seth Sinovic in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, never to be heard from again. Even if he's peaked and next year he's just a smashingly handsome bench jockey, the Wizard should come back, and the Front Office should announce it before November.
-> Can somebody please get a cool haircut?
Soccer players have come to wear ‘the' ‘it' ‘hairdos' in the world of sport. Hockey players grow disgusting, filthy looking playoff beards. Throwball players have to wear helmets, so cool hair is irrelevant (and, based on incidences of Chronic Traumatic Encepolopathy, the helmets seem to be mostly irrelevant too). So soccer players have the cool hair in sport. Arturo Vidal! Lee Nguyen! Brek Shea! Dom Oduro! Kyle Beckerman! (hate away, but he's got interesting, if filthy looking, hair).
Quick. Name a Rapids player with cool hair. Yeah, me neither. Besides Dom Badji, everybody has boring hair. Kevin Doyle. Drew Moor. Bobby Burling. Marcelo Sarvas. Juan Ramirez. It's like each one goes to Supercuts and says "I want a haircut that says ‘desk-job', ‘dependable adult', etc." No, dude, you guys have cool jobs. You get to have faux-hawks and intentionally ironic mullets. ME, the boring-ass family man with an actual desk job: I HAVE to have a Kevin Doyle-type haircut. Dammit, Rapids, if you're going to be mediocre, at least give me a kick-ass haircut to root for.
TBH, I want Marlon Hairston to get back into the starting XI for purely aesthetic reasons.
-> For Dom Badji to score another goal
He was kind of a miracle for even making the roster out of the 3rd round of MLS draft. Seeing him play at Left mid and doing it convincingly would warm my heart.
-> A little honesty from the Coach
I really respect Pablo Mastroeni. That's not a joke: I think he's showed a lot of heart and tenacity at times. He did stubbornly stick to a very defensive 4-2-3-1 even when it didn't look like it was working for too long, but he also has shown a commitment to a style of soccer: defensive soccer, that might bear fruit if given enough time. Many think he's tactically naive and maybe not adept enough to be manager. I'm still on the fence: I think he's shown growth, and I think being a new manager is very hard; there's a steep learning curve. Through nearly two years, Mastroeni has had a 15-29-17 (W-L-T) record. Ben Olsen had a record of 23-42-15 through his first 2 1/2 seasons. Jim Curtin's record is 17-26-13. It takes a little time to become Jose Mourinho, and even Mourinho doesn't always look like Mourinho.
The toughest thing to swallow for fans about Pablo, though, is that he always, always protects the players in his interviews, and never, ever says anything bad about a clunker of a performance. Never throws the players under the bus. Never criticizes them in public. It's admirable. And I think he's been pretty smart to do that most of the year. But also, after a while, it's kind of tone deaf. The supporters don't want to hear ‘we weren't clinical in front of goal' or that a player ‘brought his lunch-pail to work' when the team plays ugly soccer, or bad soccer, or bunkered soccer.
We want the truth. Not every week. But occasionally. NYCFC's Jason Kreis did it this week when he questioned the commitment of his veterans in his post-game comments. The LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena will tell you exactly what he's thinking at any given moment. Once in a while, Pablo needs to be a little more honest: ‘We were bad tonight, all around.' ‘We didn't score because we took terrible shots.' ‘We wasted our first 45 minutes of football, and that's not gonna get it done.' ‘We may not have enough talent to be a playoff team, in any system, with any coach.' The sound-byte, rah-rah, rose-colored glasses view is wearing thin for us.
On a totally different note, ‘Backpass' for the next two weeks is gonna be really short, or just a video of laser cats or something. Rosh Hashanah is next Monday & Tuesday; so I'll be sharing my non-soccer wisdom with the good mountain peoples of Steamboat Springs. Yom Kippur follows the week after. Think of that if the Rapids play a clunker against Toronto on September 19; watching soccer is still more fun than spending 25 hours fasting. Somewhere around hour 20, even Aramark nachos sound appealing.