Not much new here in the land of Burgundy. The Colorado Rapids extended their losing streak to five games as they left MAPFRE Stadium on the losing end to the Columbus Crew. The score? 2-1.
Four takeaways this week. Let us know yours in the comments section below.
1.Gashi reminds us of better days
This game brought the one thing that’s new: the Rapids scored their first MLS goal since the Clinton Administration. The 386-minute drought ended with a quick free kick by Shkëlzen Gashi. Since the Crew lined up their wall far enough away, the Rapids did not ask for the 10-foot buffer, so Gashi could kick—and did he ever. This reminded us of the Gashi of 2016 who could kick a ball from 30 yards onto a dinner plate at will.
With that singular talent that Gashi has, what has happened to keep him off the pitch? Granted, this was a sneaky free kick and not a goal in the run of play. But Rapids fans will take what they can, given the Rapids have been outscored 15-1 during this five-game losing streak. One of the myriad mysteries that 2018, this coaching staff, and front office have provided.
2. Did this begin with the trade of Burch and Cronin?
An interesting conversation took place on Twitter. I asked a question, “Would it be fair to say that the trading of Sam Cronin and Marc Burch started this current trajectory?” This trade was the first major transaction (outside of Jermaine Jones leaving via free agency) after the magical 2016 season where the Rapids fell one goal short of making the 2016 MLS Cup Final. The former Rapids Rabbi, now Soccer Rabbi, agreed to an extent:
Yes. Although Burch or Cronin have not been a big piece of the puzzle for MNUFC. The trade was the catalyst that ended the 4231 which ultimately led to all the personnel changes that left us with a 6-17-6 record.— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) September 23, 2018
The 4-2-3-1 formation, favored by previous coach Pablo Mastroeni, did go bye-bye and led to the incredible amount of personnel changes and thus began the purging of most every player that contributed to 2016.
Our resident Rapids historian, Jason Maxwell, had a different take, saying that the downward trajectory began years prior:
No. The leaving of Pareja/hiring of Pablo started it (arguably the promotion of Hinchey after 2011). Since then the FO has been flailing trying to find some magic bullet that will fix this team.— Jason Maxwell (@RapidsJason) September 24, 2018
Ah, the leaving of Oscar Pareja to FC Dallas at the beginning of 2014, bringing on the ascension of Pablo Mastroeni to head coach (although the linked article mentioned Robin Fraser as a likely candidate—huh!). Maxwell also brings this back to 2011—the year after the Rapids only MLS Cup trophy win. (Jason, for those who are new to our slice of burgundy paradise, could you elaborate in the comments section? You’re way better than Wikipedia. No really!)
Either way, everyone has their own ideas of what will turn the ship around.
3. The Sadness of All Things Columbus Crew
On a personal note. When I started getting back into soccer after the death of my nephew Gray Griffin in 2002, I followed the Columbus Crew from afar because they were the closest MLS club to Lexington, KY—along with the fact that they had a deep connection to soccer players in Trinidad and Tobago, my home away from home.
I listened to the radio feed of the Columbus Crew (they did a great job, by the way) and when they mentioned this was the third to last home game for the Crew, my heart sank. I waxed:
I just could not imagine my team weeks away from going away to another city. All God's best to you, @ColumbusCrewSC supporters. #CLBvCOL— Rapids Apologia (@RapidsSouthStds) September 23, 2018
I could not imagine it, but since this is an unprecedented move by MLS. Granted, in 2005, the San Jose Earthquakes moved their club to Houston to become the Houston Dynamo when they failed to secure a soccer-specific stadium. Yet, MLS allowed San Jose to retain the Earthquakes brand and resume play in 2008.
This? This team is moving to Austin, with no team being replaced in that community. If plans are in place to do so on an NPSL, USL, or MLS level, we haven’t heard. Yes, MLS will have a team in Ohio (FC Cincinnati) next year, and while this may satisfy MLS geographically in covering Ohio, this does not soothe any angst for the people of Columbus.
If this can happen there, it can happen anywhere. Teams are absorbed (Chivas USA) to make way for other teams (LAFC). Now teams can move without any resistance (and, in all likelihood, encouragement) from MLS. Thus, while I agonized that our Rapids lost once again, I also agonized for the situation Crew fans are in and gladly sport the hashtag #SaveTheCrew.
I hope they win the Cup!
4. We miss you, Mr. Azira
Another head-scratcher of a trade is the sending of Michael Azira to the Montreal Impact. He is such a professional and a man of high character. He also did this Saturday:
What a touch from Nacho...— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 23, 2018
And Micheal Azira does the rest! 1-1. #MTLvNYC
Granted (yes, a third ‘granted’), one goal does not a bad trade make. What frustrates Rapids fans is the trading away of quality, MLS-caliber talent that helped bring the Rapids so close to the title game in 2016, and we barely used him in 2018. Struggling teams should not send away experience and talent. But away goes Aigner, Badji, Mason—and then Badji. We wish we had confidence in the evaluation of talent from the FO. Time will tell.
What were your takeaways from Saturday?