"Taylor, we are going to do something right now that not a lot of people do all that often. We're going to talk about the Colorado Rapids."
(Taylor inserts a chuckle of dismay.)
"What has gone on with this team over the last two years?" Indeed. Only Powers and Serna remain from the 2013 team that they loved? That's right.
And so goes ESPN's Taylor Twellman on a three-minute harangue on MLS' Extratime Radio Podcast that I in the South Stands found glorious! Why? Because in three minutes, Twellman brings two questions that Rapids fans have asked for going on (conservatively) two years. And I must say this, and (like Twellman), I hope the Front Office gets this:
Rapids fans know what they are talking about. They pay attention. They listen to the Front Office. They see the tactics and strategy on the field. The core of Rapid Nation are not a collection of Village Idiots. Emotional? Sure. Irrational? Give all that's happened to this team, it's understandable. But Rapids fans get what's happening. Even when they cannot articulate what's happening, they can say, "Wow, this feels like Chivas USA." "Something's rotten in the state of Burgundy." And that's what happens when hope does not spring burgundy.
What Taylor Twellman says as a clearly-not-a-Rapids fan articulates clearly the issues that Rapid Nation has known for a while. He culls this issues down to two questions:
Who's in charge? "I have zero idea where the leadership is there, because at one moment I think (Paul) Bravo is leading the ship, the next moment I think Pablo Mastroeni's leading the ship, and occasionally at the combine, I think... Wait, is Claudio Lopez the coach?" John Maxwell (and others) say this repeatedly: "Everything rises and falls on leadership." Another said, "If you're a leader and no one's following you, you're just taking a long walk."
What's the plan? "Matt, there is no plan!" Granted, he's not in the office. But Jesus told His disciples, "You'll know them by their fruit." The fruit they are bearing is gutting the team--for what? "Is Howard really a good signing?" And the panel answers unanimously and quickly, "No, absolutely not!" Two strong goalkeepers (Clint Irwin and Zac MacMath) Even the issues with the hopeful signing of Bedoya smelled funny as well, not knowing they Nantes wouldn't release him. Then with what they describe as the "mercurial Mexican" Alan Pulido "who hasn't basically played in over a year at this point."
Here's the money quote: "Some of these moves looks as if their backs against the wall... They act as if to say, 'I have to keep my job this year with these moves.'" He invoked the word 'desperate,' then backtracked, but then basically described a front office that comes across as desperate. When you're operating as if you think you think and you're worried about getting fired, there's a great chance you'll be fired. You're no longer operating out of passion and plan for team, you're operating to save your hide. And it'll show--in fact, it'll show to others before you're even aware it's happening.
Like it or not, Twellman was also right about this: "Oscar Pareja showed you can have a successful team in Colorado." For what we may now think of Oscar Pareja and him jumping ship back to FC Dallas, he did have a plan and did bring success.
Twellman continues with why Mastroeni played "a very good soccer player" in Dillon Powers out of position, and why they "interestingly" sold Deshorn Brown for not a lot of money. All headscratchers. Again, Twellman is not a Rapids fan, but you can tell that what the Rapids are doing now is downright maddening!
So what we have, ladies and gentlemen, is a leadership and vision vacuum. Would any player in their right mind want to come into an environment like that? And if (notice, I said 'if') the front office fears for their job, then the game is over and new leadership is needed.