As many regular Burgundy Wave readers know, I’ve been more optimistic than most this season. I felt that after last year’s success, it was only fair to give the Colorado Rapids’ Front Office a chance. Nobody likes losing, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt that everyone was doing the best they could to turn the team and the 2017 season around. I felt that the FO was making a good faith effort to improve the team (and to be clear, I still do, for the most part).
Then last week happened.
I should say this isn’t about being pissed off that they fired Pablo. While we know he bleeds burgundy like the rest of us and he had the respect of the locker room, he just isn’t a great coach. Pablo obviously wasn’t getting it done on the field, but I would argue that the FO did not actually set him up for success, contrary to what has been said. Yes, coaching was an issue, but the timing doesn’t make sense to me. Why now, with (at the time) 12 games left in the season? Why disrupt the locker room again?
At this point, what’s done is done and I know many fans are happy to see the FO “making an effort” and “showing us that they’re serious.”
But let me remind you of a few ongoing issues that there have been plenty of opportunities to address.
1. Roster issues.
We still need a left back.
The infamous Sam Cronin/Marc Burch trade was ill-timed and it took at least a couple weeks for everyone to get settled back in (though I would argue that they still haven’t really fixed the captain issue). I’m happy with Mohammed Saeid as a Cronin replacement, but we don’t have a reliable left back right now, and it consistently leaves our back line exposed.
We still need a number 10 (or number 9, depending on who you talk to).
I get that trades don’t always come through the way the FO would hope. I get that players have to want to come here and Colorado could be a hard sell. But what have they done this season to “boost our attack”?
The Rapids have acquired:
- Nana, who hasn’t quite performed as expected;
- Mo Saeid, who actually has been a great addition;
- Josh Gatt, who hasn’t seen the field much;
- Luis Gil, who came from an offense just as starved for goals as ours; and
Stefan Aigner, who I’m willing to give a shot, but we’re probably only going to see him for the last couple months of the season anyway.
We’ve been hearing the emphasis on being more “attacking” and more “offensive-minded” all year, but where are we seeing that being put into action?
But they fired the defensive-minded coach, Abbie. They also said they tried to set him up for success. Maybe taking advantage of two trade windows and putting a playmaker on the field would have set us up for success. Maybe Pablo still would have blown it with a dumb lineup or poor sub decisions, but now we’ll never know.
2. They’ve been talking about being more offensive-minded and attacking all year.
As I mentioned above, this is nothing new. This is the same stuff we’ve been hearing from the Front Office, the technical staff, and the players since the preseason. Everything they are saying about the new “Rapids Way” is just more of the same. This isn’t being more transparent, it’s repeating the same thing over and over again and trying to convince us it’s something different.
3. Everyone is to blame for the Rapids’ lack of success.
Padraig Smith said it himself: “Pablo (Mastroeni) has had to bite the bullet here, for the failures of the club over this season, but ultimately we all have to take a hard look at ourselves in terms of our responsibilities for this.” I didn’t see anyone else get fired. Everyone needs to take responsibility, but the head coach is the only one getting sacked? Interesting how that works.
4. The club is in a huge transition period right now.
We currently have interim staff in three of the most important positions within the club: General Manager, Head Coach, and Chief Business Officer. Many of us assume those interim tags will just disappear one day, but who knows when that will happen or what’s actually going on behind closed doors.
5. We still need a head coach with experience.
I’ve got nothing against Steve Cooke. He’s been with the team since 2010 and has some coaching experience here and there, but we are in desperate need of someone who can come in and turn the team around. Ryan Madden has promised that there will be a head coach search, but I’m not convinced that Stan Kroenke is going to shell out the cash for someone at the level we need.
Why am I so skeptical? According to Forbes.com, the Rapids brought in the least amount of revenue and were one of the lowest teams in terms of value in 2016. Kroenke doesn’t invest in this team and the Rapids aren’t bringing in loads of cash on their own.
Bonus Problem: What it all comes down to is that we still have the same owner who just. doesn’t. care. The same owner who said “if you want to win championships then you would never get involved” about his stake in Arsenal. The same owner who is into trophy hunting African animals and broadcasting it on television (though he did pull down the channel after the backlash). The same owner who we all know is more into his real estate holdings than his sports teams.
Yes, it will take time for things to smooth over after everything that’s been going on. Yes, I’m pretty confident the team will sign a big name in the off-season. But this season has just been change after change after change. Instead of building on the success of last year, this season has been a wash.
That being said, I’d love for the Rapids to prove me wrong. I’m guessing (hoping?) they have plenty of things going on behind the scenes that will make the team better next year, but instead of boosting my confidence, this season has made me nervous that nothing is changing anytime soon.