I've been following the Colorado Rapids since way back in 1996, when I was just an excitable young eight-year-old kid who loved soccer and was thrilled to have a local team to watch along with that new baseball and hockey team we had been given. I was very big into it as a kid, watched when I could through high school, had a partial season ticket with a friend when DSGP opened in 2007, watched the ugliest online-streams for every game I could find in 2008 and 2009 when I was stuck in Grand Junction for college and Upstate NY working for my grandfather (that right there took some damn dedication, let me tell you) and then returned to watching nearly every game in 2010 when I started some stupid blog called Burgundy Wave. Never, at any point during that period, could one say that I wasn't a big Rapids fan.
People have often talked about the Rapids being a bad team, but anyone who has been there since the start can tell you that isn't true. No, the big crime of the Rapids has always been mediocrity. They've historically been that middle-of-the-road team that you can usually count on to not finish last in the league, but who always turn some eyebrows up when they're near the top, as well. If you asked an average MLS fan to name every team in the league, they'd probably get named near the end. They're the Carolina Hurricanes of MLS, right down to the title that nobody's quite sure how they won but was quickly forgotten outside of everyone there shortly after.
I, personally, don't mind mediocrity. Since most of the sports teams we have now in this town weren't around when I was born, I followed Buffalo sports as a kid. Nothing says 'endless mediocrity' more than the Buffalo Bills and Sabres. Hell, even my favorite European team is a yo-yo club that was mid-table in the Championship nearly every year since I started following them, recent shock successes and administration years aside. Mediocrity is my bread and butter, and I thrive on waiting for rebuilding to finally click with a mediocre side. I find it much more fascinating and fun to hope and love a mediocre side than I ever would to support a team like Manchester United, where you expect trophies every single year and a 4th-place finish means temper tantrums from the fanbase.
Obviously, there are plenty of people who aren't as tolerant of mediocrity as me in the Rapids fanbase, and that's fine. Expecting greatness every year might be a bit much, in my opinion, but getting frustrated over mediocrity lingering over every second of play and every move is a position that makes sense to me.
That argument is past. The Rapids are long past mediocrity now. We are now into our third straight season of not mediocrity, but awful, putrid badness. The Rapids are not a team that can spring up to surprise people anymore, like they were in 2013. They are a team that was awful two years ago, worse last year and making moves to make themselves even worse for the future. They are tied to the worst head coach I have ever seen in my long years of watching soccer, and it's a coach that they insist will be sticking around.
My cardinal sin when it comes to sports is not a team that is mediocre, or even a team that is bad. It's a team that doesn't try to improve. This is why I've only been to a single Rockies game in the past 4 years; the Rockies are the OG of not actually bothering to do anything that might actively improve the team, and it wore on me as the years went along. People ask me all the time why I'm a Bills fan, how I can stand watching that product year-in and year-out. It's because they're trying, at the very least, to make things better. I've seen a lot of 7-9 Bills teams since I started watching the NFL in the early 00s, but at least those were different Bills teams doing it. Effort goes a long, long way in my book.
The current iteration of the Rapids lacks effort in a way that I've never seen before.
Yes, this is all going back to the Clint Irwin trade. Fans of the Rapids have felt a disconnect from the club many times over the years, but it's never been as bad as it is now. They had a fan forum where they essentially said we were too stupid to know what we were talking about. Youth has been replaced with aging, ineffective players while we watch exciting young prospects like Axel Sjoberg and, of course, Dillon Serna, rot on the bench. They've dangled Designated Players in front of us while cutting one after his first year and playing the other, a once-feared EPL striker, as an attacking midfielder. They've spent the entire last two seasons preaching that they were looking to continue the legacy of Oscar Pareja's fun, attacking, playoff soccer while at the same time draining the team of every player from that 2013 squad.
With Irwin's trade, Rapids now have only @SernaDillon & @powerhour5 left from the '13 Rapids. Add to that only @MARLYG94 and Watts from '14.— Damnit I came in 2nd (@rapidsrabbi) January 18, 2016
And, of course, there was the hilarious assertion that Pablo just needed more of 'his guys' on the team in order for success to follow, when Oscar Pareja was still operating with a squad that had at least a few of Gary Smith's guys on it when he took the Rapids to the playoffs in 2013.
Name your favorite players from the 2013 squad, and other than Serna and Powers they're probably gone. Dillon Powers would probably be a Royal right now if Reading's manager hadn't decided to say no to him after he went on trail over in England. Clint Irwin and Drew Moor were maybe the most fan-friendly players in Rapids history, and both are gone now, their places being given to a mediocre center back who was cut from his former team for skipping training and, likely, Tim Howard. We already covered that shitshow the other day.
The Tim Howard thing was covered by plenty of media, not just Rapids media, and called a 'desperation move' by most of them. It's going to be expensive, useless for a team that was defensively stout (for most of the year until St. Ledger came in and was handed a starting spot, anyway) and offensively inept, and would require making a back-up of not one, but two solid MLS keepers. Their response to it? Simple, just trade the keepers!
That, my friends, is the point where mediocrity stops and insane levels of awful begin. Just add another scratch mark to the cell of shit that we've been imprisoned in as Rapids fans. (And our sentence doesn't look like it will be ending any time soon.)
I couldn't figure out what I should title this post for a long while. I'm usually good at punchy little titles, like "The Rapids can't possibly be this stupid" or "The Rapids Way can now be pronounced dead". Eventually I just decided to go with my placeholder title that had been there since before I started typing it because seriously, I've run out of other things to say or ways to say it. Fuck the Rapids.