What in the world is going on in Colorado?

Gary Smith 1 (ISIphotos.com) 

Photo by ISIphotos.com

When it comes to conversations about the most dysfunctional clubs in Major League Soccer, the New York Red Bulls often tend to dominate the conversations, but one club that needs to start being discussed is the Colorado Rapids.

The Rapids downright imploded in the final six weeks of the MLS season to miss out on the playoffs for a third straight year. They managed just four points from their final seven matches (and two of those points came courtesy of stoppage time penalties against the worst team in the West, San Jose) and for the second straight year the Rapids lost a match to arch-rival Real Salt Lake that helped RSL reach the playoffs.

In fact, there hasn't been much to smile about in Rapids land since opening Dick's Sporting Goods Park in 2007. In the three years since, Colorado has failed to reach the playoffs, has failed to land a shirt sponsor, has failed to sign a Designated Player and has failed to capture the imagination of the area's soccer fans despite opening a new stadium. All this while owner Stan Kroenke spends his time buying pieces of English powerhouse Arsenal.

If you're wondering why you haven't heard much about the Rapids it might be because there is virtually non-existent coverage of the team. With Denver losing one of its daily newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post all but ignoring the Rapids, there is really nowhere for anybody to find the criticism the club clearly deserves.

Will a third disappointing year lead to some heads rolling? You would think that Managing Director Jeff Plush would already be looking for a new job given his track record in charge, and Gary Smith may have already been on his way back to England if he were coaching some other MLS teams and let his team collapse the way he did.

It's a shame to see things remain the way they are in Colorado. The Rapids have a relatively new stadium and a nice nucleus of talent with Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni and Matt Pickens, but there is little reason to believe anything will change in 2010 (well, aside from Kroenke potentially being able to buy Arsenal).

That is a shame for the soccer fans in Colorado, where mediocrity continues to reign while the rest of the soccer-loving country doesn't even notice.

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75 Responses to What in the world is going on in Colorado?

  1. SD says:

    I guess I can take comfort in knowing that we red bulls are not alone in our disfunction (sarcasm)….thanks for highlighting…i was wondering about kroenke, why he isn’t spending all that money here….

  2. TomM says:

    Thanks for picking at this wound Ives- I was having a good Friday up until this.

    I think Gary’s actually done well based on what he’s been given to work with. I place the blame solely on the shoulders of upper management, who has failed to invest in quality players and targeted its marketing to youth while ignoring the diehard soccer fans (it literally feels like a circus in the stadium on game day). Season pass holders are not renewing, and it doesn’t look like things will change any time soon. And Kroenke remains completely invisible when it comes to the Rapids…

    (SBI-Sorry Tom, I was just hoping to shine the light on that mess.)

  3. TomM says:

    Oh- and if you want to know what people here think of Jeff Plush, read his “open letter to the Rapids fans”, and the responses of said fans…

    link to rapidsundercurrent.blogspot.com

  4. Ulrich says:

    If MLS wasn’t so busy signing League-wide sponsors that limit which companies a team can sign with (e.g. Adidas, Budweiser, etc), Colorado could have looked in its backyard and signed with Coors Brewing Company…. that’s a no-brainer.

  5. Rory says:

    Okay, I call bullcrap. You know what happened in Colorado this year? The offense was set up to swing the ball in from the sides to take advantage of two awesome forwards and then outside Midfielders fell like flies. Colin Clark turned out to be the key player who was lost. The team foolishly cut Terry Cooke (who hadn’t been playing much anyway) when it was clear that Jamie Smith was the real deal on the outside. Then Smith got hurt. No problem… we’ll go to our third best option at setting up the offense… oh wait, Jacob Peterson got hurt too.

    I think Smith or Peterson got hurt about three days before the roster deadline.

    Check out the teams record before Clark’s injury and the record after Smith’s injury.

    Pablo missed some early games this year with national team duty and Conor Casey missed a bunch of summer games for the Confed cup as well…

  6. Lee says:

    About the only thing I can say is I like their kits. Their situation does seem to be a case of an owner not caring at all though.

  7. DJ says:

    When they took “Rapids” and “Colorado” off of their primary and change jerseys, respectively, I thought it was a certain signal that a jersey sponsor was on the way (similar to when DC United removed the three stripes from the front of their jersey). Instead…nothing.

  8. Rory says:

    With the exception of ChivasUSA who somehow managed through a plague of injuries (and lets be honest, having Chivas Mexico send Padilla late in the year helped a bit) I don’t think anyone had the injuries/call ups like Colorado had.

    (SBI-Chicago called, and said wake up. Seriously though, one year can be written off. Three years cannot, no matter how many excuses you can come up with.)

  9. Rory says:

    Yeah I think there’s not many companies willing to pay half a million (that’s the leagues requirement price, right?) in this economic climate to put their name on jerseys that might be seen by a million people on their three ESPN appearances this year. I don’t New England or Dallas got any offers this year either (except Dallas’ three ESPNDallas games sponsorship).

  10. Marco says:

    That blue and Maroon kit is the nicest in the MLS, maybe the nicest on the planet.

  11. afrim says:

    how are you so sure Coors wants to sponsor them?

    another good idea to write about is the Revolution and how Kraft has ignored that team. No talks of a new stadium, no DP, no shirt sponsor etc…

    if it wasnt for Nichol pulling the strings that tea would be worse off

  12. Rory says:

    There’s a world of difference in being the second worse team in league history and being a team that missed out on the playoffs by a point.

    (SBI-Is there really? Both teams are home for the playoffs, and only one of those teams made it to MLS Cup last year. Red Bulls had made the playoffs six straight years before this year. Rapids haven’t made it since 2007. Just saying.)

  13. Jonny says:

    Damn Rory, Spin Much? If I were a betting man I’d be betting that you work for the Rapids. No real Rapids fan could spin that crap like you’re trying to.

  14. Rory says:

    When Chicago called they got the following message: “Sorry you rented out Blanco in the offseason then were suprised he couldn’t finish the season healthy, sorry your coach pissed off your best defender so he’d leave, sorry the tape that held Brian McBride together fell off… you sort of brought that on yourself.”

    (SBI-Now you just sound irrational. The Fire had just as many injuries/call-ups as Colorado. That was the point.)

  15. smits says:

    Jon Spencer will be the coach there one day, but based on this report sounds like he has no chance of succeeding.

  16. Gilbert says:

    Paul Bravo is at fault the guy does not know what he is doing at all! The guy is a fucken joke alomg with Jeff Agoos.

  17. Kevin in Denver says:

    We Raps fans are left pretty much out in the dark when it comes to coverage by the Post, which is understaffed, but still finds a way to send Woody Paige everywhere the Broncos go. I say stick Woody’s shtick on the Rapids, and watch how much everybody suddenly cares.

    Gary Smith needs a couple more years. Early on in the season, he proved to be an effective tactician, and a decent manager of a team that was plagued by injuries and a front office that could not care less.

    Plush has to go. 2 years ago, he blamed injuries for missing the playoffs. Last year, it was Clavijo. This year, it’s injuries again. Kronke is getting serious about footie, and it shows in how he is buying up Arsenal at a rapid (yes, pun intended) pace. Kronke is obviously biding his time with Plush at the helm, waiting for the right moment. One thing Kronke hates to be a is a loser. Even worse, though, is a loser that doesn’t make any money. That’s what the Rapids have been the last few years.

    In the next two years, look for Kronke to increase his share with Arsenal even more, and when the time is right, pushing for majority ownership. When that happens, look for him to do the same thing with the Rapids that he did with the Nuggets – make a push for a championship by buying talent, and starting to care.

    Until then, Rapids fans, you are wasting your time following them, and you’re wasting your money on season tickets.

  18. JGIB says:

    As an RSL fans this is awesome.

  19. Reid says:

    I feel like Kroenke and Kraft get a free pass (for the most part soccerwise) because of kraft financially helping soccer in the 90’s in US, and because that mustacioed man keeps buying into arsenal.

    I wonder if Kraft hangs onto the Revs just to get USSF games which in turn might lead to more international matches.

    Not sure if one leads to the next, but it couldn’t hurt.

    And it kills me that Montreal didn’t get a team because they didn’t offer enough money. Montreal should have been looked at with visions of hte future, strong home crowd, stadium IN the city. Went up to Toronto to support the revs this year and would have gone to montreal, rather then going to the Razor.

  20. Jim D. says:

    The constantly changing brand identities for the team has been weird, too. But I really like the one they’ve got – they should totally stick with it, for good.

  21. Rory says:

    Well my point was that Colorado suffered more significant season ending injuries to nearly the same position/roll. In fact, all three happened in quick succession too (within a month or two). Colorado had the same kind of small (out a game or three) injuries in their back line as the Fire with Gibbs, Pagula, and Baudet missing time.

    How many Fire players were called into national duty this year?(I honestly don’t know). I know the Rapids had Pablo/Casey/Clark (Gold Cup)/Cummings (Jamica-Gold cup)

  22. Rory says:

    At least they have kept their name (unlike Dallas for example) and haven’t had to be restarted (San Jose). Basically they’ve only changed their jersy colors a few times.

    I do wonder how it would have worked if they had gone through with the Arsenal rebranding… and I wonder if that won’t happen once Kroenke hits the magical 30% mark of Arsenal (at that point he has to buy out the rest of the board members by British law).

    I also think Arsenal’s plans involving Denver next summer might be the start of something good for the Rapids.

  23. Jason says:

    Two different issues here.

    1. The late-season collapse was due to injuries to Clark, Smith, and PEterson which killed our offense designed around wing play. Gary Smith deserves blame for only having three wingers on a roster that centers around wing play. Because of that the “We would have made it if not for injuries!” excuse is weak. We didn’t have teh depth we needed in a critical position. We essentially had no backup at left wing all season.

    2. The Rapids organization as a whole has failed. No shirt sponsor, falling attendance, no DP, no playoffs for 3 years, and a weak mid-season friendly against Club America that I’m sure only happened because they had already arranged to play FSL 4 days earlier. This all points to a poorly run and funded organization which falls on Plush and Kroenke.

    While I’m not pleased with Gary Smith’s roster construction I think he’ll get another year. Jeff Plush needs to go though and Kroenke needs to put somebody in who’s dedicated to making the Rapids a top soccer organization and back him up with money to spend. Until that happens I think the Rapids will be stuck in this same cycle for the foreseeable future.

  24. Rory says:

    Yeah but years from now nobody will be talking about the Rapids missing the playoffs, one day they will say: “Well Vancouver (or whoever) had the third worst season ever, only ever topped in futility by the 2009 Red Bulls and the Fusion’s worst year.”

  25. bayonetbrant says:

    “how are you so sure Coors wants to sponsor them?”

    Because watching them play will make you want to drink more? ;)

  26. bayonetbrant says:

    “except Dallas’ three ESPNDallas games sponsorship”

    And oddly enough, if you go to ESPNDallas.com, there’s no link across the top for FCD like there is for their other major sports. In fact, good luck finding Hoops coverage at all on there.

  27. Rory says:

    Blaming Kroenke is interesting. The team spends pretty much what they are allowed under the cap. Really all they have left they could (should) have done is sign a DP. But by that standard there’s several “bad” owners in the MLS.

    When you look at it, the Rapids didn’t make many moves in the offseason but got somewhat active in-season (Baudet, Fiz, Jamie Smith). I really wish they had kept Tim Ward who turned out to be real good in Chicago before being hurt.

    In fact, the Rapids missed the playoffs by one point, and you could say the success of the expansion Sounders meant there was one less spot from last year availible. It’s not enough improvement nor is it what we want, but it was some improvement this year.

  28. Robert says:

    Wow, this is much more serious than I thought… No coverage for an original MLS team with a new stadium? There are plenty of fans out there. I may be spending some time in Boulder next spring and I’ve already gotten invitations to go to games.

  29. einar says:

    I think it was just cuz of injuries ives they lost colin clark for a season when this was his season to shine. which he was! until he got hurt! than smith got hurt! the roster is good but the wings were injury prone this year. the only mistake was cutting terry cooke. If u ask me. Clark will be on a tear next year. they just need an attacking midfielder and some defensive help. gary Smith has done a great job too. so ya upper management is bad but it dont matter cuz Smith can pull this team together like Nicol has done for the Revs. u know whos worst? the red bulls end of story. and the earthquakes r around there as well

  30. bayonetbrant says:

    “I don’t think anyone had the injuries/call ups like Colorado had.”

    Marshall, Moreno, Hejduk, Rogers, Gaven, Padula, Carroll, Moffatt, Brunner, Gruenebaum, Hesmer and that MVP guy. All missed multiple games for injuries, illness, and/or call-ups.

    Carroll has played the whole year with a separated shoulder.
    Moreno has been hurt, and trying get Venezuela into the World Cup.
    Marshall and Rogers played the entire Gold Cup, and then Marshall was out hurt. Several players fought off bad cases of the flu, and even played through them.

    You know what happened when GBS and AM went down? Garey and Lenhart started and the Crew went 4-0.

    Do players get hurt? Yep. That’s why you build depth into your roster.

  31. KCB says:

    …one of the many reasons why I’m happy the CRapids aren’t in the playoffs.

  32. Rory says:

    Excellent point about roster depth. Who does that fall on? Coach/GM/Kroenke?

    But other then a DP, how could Kroenke spend more on the team? I’d like to see the GK situation cleared up by one solid starter (instead of the Bouna/Burpo then Pickens/Burpo mess of the last two years).

  33. Rory says:

    It would be hard to work for the Rapids here in Kentucky, but I’d be up for it.

  34. Matt M. says:

    Guys, are we forgetting that 7 out of fifteen teams will not make the playoffs? And more next year?

    Colorodo missed out on the last three playoffs despite being around .500.

    Last time I checked there was a loser for every winner and only one team can be champion.

    Calling Colorodo dysfuncional for being in the middle of the pack is riduculous.

    As for cheap? Underfunded? What the crap does that mean?

    Last I checked Colorado had a great “privately-funded” park which is better than 2/3’s of the league. Was Kroenke “cheap” in building that?

    As for their roster, are they UNDER the salary cap? Not to my knowledge.

    Their only sin was not paying for a “designated player”. Last I checked that was not a crime. Most of them don’t pan out (remember Denilson? Or the other Mexican down in Dallas whose name I can’t remember). Big successed there.

    A designatated player rarely brings in additional revenue, often adds nothing to the team’s efforts, takes up 1/6 of the salary cap regardless of how much he actually makes, and, worst of all, distracts the team from what they need to do:

    Bring together 20+ good players into a functioning unit.

    When fans are crying “just bring in some NAME! that wil solve everything!”, all it does is waste time and take attention away from where it needs to go.

  35. Rory says:

    I stand corrected. The DEFENDING CHAMPS had a lot of players miss a FEW games and managed to keep being a good team.

    I want to reform my opinion: The Rapids fell out of playoff competition because they had some freak injuries to three players who played the same role (set up the forwards from the outside midfielder role) in the span of a few weeks, the last of which happened right before the deadline when no moves could be made. Some blame surely can lie on the staff that was responsible for the short depth at outside mid… but how foreseeable was it?

  36. Beat Down Rapids Fan says:

    Thanks for the space on the blog Ives….You hit the nail on the head with your article. The front office of the team is inept at best. They have made a few good moves, but for every good move there are three bad ones. The addition of Julian Baudet was a move in the right direction but Facundo Diz or “DIZZZZ NUTS!” was a step back. The Beckerman trade for Mehdi Ballouchy may haunt this club for years….for real…years. It is obvious to the fans (and anyone that wants to pay attention) that the Rapids suffer from an owner that doesn’t care about the team…and he never will. The Rocky Mountain Cup…Our cup by the way…(The RSL supporters group barely helped pay for it.) Hasn’t been in Colorado in 3 years….sickening. If things continue the way that they are going- Colorado won’t have a team…The team has a nice stadium, but they have never put a team in it. I am a fan of the team, but the fact is the the Colorado Rapids are bad for the league and without fan support eventually they will go away. Thanks for looking West Ives.

  37. Rory says:

    If anything the Rapids should be congratulated for their success in bringing along younger players–their reserves team was back to back champs, but then that got done away with by the league. But many of those players are going to have good careers (unfortunately some of them like Ward will be doing it at other MLS clubs).

    As for Kroenke being cheap with the stadium, it could have been downtown… but I think the moves downtown have been a little more recent revelation in the MLS then when DSG was being planned.

  38. this is colorado’s 1st non-losing season in 4 years & they missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. gary smith has done an objectively good job & deserves another year to continue his so far successful rebuilding of this team. i particularly like how he has collected a solid group of younger guys, & plenty of americans, w/no crazy salaries. it’s a stable model & the team has begun to build an identity under him. mehdi ballouchy has blossomed under him, though others had struggled to get productivity out of him. ditto for conor casey. nick labrocca has earned a USMNT camp callup & colin clark has earned his 1st cap under smith’s tutelage.

    why disrupt upward momentum? this is what RBNY did w/arena & i’m sure they regret it now.

  39. nico says:

    great story. would be nice to have a hard hitting interview of the front office and ownership.

  40. Ben! says:

    I almost fell over when I saw an article on the Rapids, but we are pretty much bottom of the barrel right now and somebody need to be questioning it. My feeling is that the fans are behind Gary Smith (and Paul Bravo) and against management (Plush and Kroenke). I don’t think there is a single fan who wouldn’t buy the franchise to save if from Stan Kroenke if they could. He has the money to invest in the team. 90 shares of Arsenal would pay Freddie Ljungberg’s salary for the year. It is a clear lack of desire from the top that is killing the team.

    Ben!, Rapids fan

  41. forgot omar cummings, who emerged as a legit MVP candidate (along w/casey) this year under smith. & casey now scoring vital goals for the USMNT.

    plus it’s kind of unfair to say out of 1 side of your mouth that smith should be fired for finishing .500 & then say out of the other side that the ownership has not enabled him compete on even terms w/clubs that have ponied up for DPs. finishing .500 in a league where you’re being outspent by most of the other clubs is better than par.

  42. Ben! says:

    Is that the Matt M that I know?!

    I really disagree. If you look at a 3 year snapshot, 3 teams have not made the playoffs. Two of them expansion teams, one of them Colorado. And I don’t think fans in Toronto are saying, Oh it’s OK, teams can’t make the playoffs every year.

    -Ben!

  43. The Busdriver says:

    RSL fans ski in jeans….

  44. Craig says:

    Ballouchy has blossomed? WOW

  45. spaceman333 says:

    lordy, the pain never seems to end for us Rapids fans. 3 seasons in a row ended by our bitter rival. More STH not renewing. Attendance’s on the runaway downward slope. No sponsor when it was clearly expected. Weather would not co-operate this year. Three injuries – one starter, one new guy and one utility man are being touted as the reason for no post season. Its the same baloney as always. The directive of this FO seems to be give away as many tickets to the under 17 crowd as possible. In fact, the only time I see the stadium even remotely full other than the 4th of July or a Beckham spotting is when the 24 fields around the Dick are used for MASSIVE youth tournaments and every participant is GIVEN free tickets. Even then, the games listed as “sold out” have huge swaths of empty seats as plenty of parents are too tired or broke or etc to go see the game after 7-10 hours watching their own kid play soccer. That is the reason for the worlds greatest soocer complex, KSE is betting everything on the family dollar. Get ‘em in young, keep ‘em coming back. Dont mind that they dont give two minutes of their attention to the game. Nearly ignore the die-hard soccer fan, (but getting better this season-I admit) and forget about the team on the field, Quick! Throw some more shwag into the stands! Add another Mascot! I thought this team was turning around a bit this year, still do, but some of the directions this club has followed leaves me, a die hard soccer fan, cold. This next season will be my last season ticket if things dont change. I am fully paid up and hopeful, but watching this club trip over its dick one more year will be something I can do from the Intranet and the crappiest TV broadcasts known to man. I have a really nice couch at home.

  46. Are you making some kind of argument here? Ballouchy was capable of tying for 9th in the league in assists before coming to Colorado?

  47. Andrew says:

    On the bright side, looks like Spacemen 3 might reunite.

  48. spaceman333 says:

    SHUT UP! Dont be pulling my leg now.

  49. Army Footy Fan says:

    Hell, why not have the “US ARMY” as their sponsor? They are next to a big Army base and the Army sponsors alot of sporting events (NASCAR, High School Football East/West Showdown, etc.) Now seeing the US Army on the front of the shirt, nice recruiting tool :)

  50. “Ballouchy encouraged to get involved in the offense”, By John Meyer, The Denver Post, 05/01/2009

    “We look towards Mehdi, with all the talent, athleticism and creativity he’s got, to be somebody who’s supplying (assists) and also chipping in with some goals,” Smith said. “He’s worked ever so hard at the (defensive) side of his game, he’s very disciplined in his approach, he covers a lot of ground, moreso negatively — stopping opponents (from) being creative themselves — which is testimony to the lad’s attitude.” … “What we have to try and do is break some of those shackles so he can be a little more expressive,” Smith said. “If we can just get him in more advanced positions and more creative positions, I think we’ll see, with the quality he’s got, some reward for that.”

    link to denverpost.com

    ballouchy assist totals:

    2006 (RSL): 2

    2007 (RSL): 0

    2007 (CLO): 2

    2008 (CLO): 4

    2009 (CLO): 7

    so smith wanted more assists out of ballouchy & got them, to the point that he tied for 9th leaguewide this season.

    your point?

  51. CO Caribou says:

    Spacemen 3 have a better chance of reuniting before the Rapids make it back to the MLS Cup which of course will not happen until Jason and Sonic are both wheeled into the same room at a Rugby retirement home 40 years from now.

  52. CO Caribou says:

    I am going to guess that you do not know the history of Rocky Mountain Arsenal or the Western Tier Parcel where the Dick now sits.

  53. RLW2020 says:

    nailed it. people in denver are like sheep and the post blows. but that all sets up a chance at adding some fire to this club.

  54. Jason says:

    Well, I think losing both starting wingers to injury (Clark and Smith) just weeks after waiving Cooke meant that there was not wing play for the stretch run, and it caught up with them.

    The D has been shaky all year, and Pablo ain’t what he used to be.

  55. Andrew in D.C. says:

    I think SBI should get Kevin in Denver to do some freelance blogging work on the Rapids next season. I’m dead serious.

  56. MM says:

    Season ending injuries to Colin Clark, Jacob Peterson, & Jamie Smith is the cause to the Rapids downfall. They all play the same position, and the injuries happened at relatively the same time. Without these players, they were dependent on defenders and defensive midfielders to get the ball to Casey and Cummings. It didn’t work. They were playing an empty bucket formation without wingers down the stretch. It was hard to watch.

    As far as some of the Terry Cooke comments, Cooke was extremely overrated by the fanbase. That said, he would have been useful to have down the stretch with all the injuries. He would/should have gotten cut this offseason if he hadn’t been waived in July.

    Gary Smith hasn’t been horrible. He had them playing well. His problem was he didn’t have the right players for his system when the injuries happened. He wasn’t able to adjust. The question is, will management supply him with the players this offseason? Ives is correct in that there is no pressure from press on Rapids management to produce anything. Local news shows might show a token goal if they have time. Some stations don’t bother to do that. Management has lots of other issues as well. Some are mentioned in the comments above. Hopefully, Kroenke will wake up to the fact that he has a team in Colorado and start improving the product.

  57. Allen says:

    Some good points by Ives but in this case the devil’s in the details.

    minor point : Most fans don’t know or care about shirt sponsors. Does it have an indirect affect in that it brings in more revenue which could potentially be spent on a DP? Sure; nevertheless, that’s not a smile / no smile sort of thing.

    major point : The key word at play here used by Ives right off he bat is “dysfunctional”. Dysfunctional isn’t a merely an absence of success but that things are malfunctioning, they are broken.

    As frustrating of a season as the Rapids had, it’s laughable to say things with the Rapids are dysfunctional. That’s hyperbole. The team has some things to improve upon but that’s far, far from being a mess.

    What I find most peculiar though is that failing to capture the imagination of the local soccer fans is why we’re dysfunctional. With 2.4 million people in the Denver / Aurora MSA and 4 million but only when talking about a 150 mile corridor (bigger than some states out east) with 4 million people all having the NFL, NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL, indoor lacrosse, outdoor lacrosse, div 1 football programs, 3 div 1 hockeys, etc, etc along with wonderful mountains with world class hiking, skiiing, mountain biking, et al all competition for our attention, where is the proof that the Rapids have failed to capture the imagination of local soccer fans? How many soccer fans do we have in the first place? Keep in mind we have all those other things begging for our time and money. And metro Denver proper has less than 2.5 million people. So what are the numbers? HOw many fans are the Rapids missing out on? Or was that mere conjecture?

  58. Ives, the soccer-loving country does notice the problems surrounding the Colorado Rapids. Now to use the term ‘dysfunctional’ might be a bit unfair, although is does bring to the forefront some issues that the Rapids organization are being forced to deal with.

    Pablo Mastroeni has been our long-term captain and leader. If the Rapids are going to be successful next season, he needs to shoulder this team and lead us to the playoffs. Sure, Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Colin Clark, Jamie Smith and Cory Gibbs could also do their part to making this team better, Pablo is the heart and soul of the Rapids.

    Gary Smith was hired last season after he lead the Rapids on an eye-opening run that almost landed us in the playoffs. This season, the Rapids started off strong and some might agree with me that the 3-0 loss in Seattle in mid June was the turning point of the season. Omar had a chance to make it 1-0 on the road with a PK but missed off the crossbar and Seattle found their rhythm. One needs to evaluate what really went wrong with the stretch of not winning 1 out of their last 7 games.

    Jeff Plush should step down from the Rapids organization and Stan Kroenke needs to be present at Rapids games. The guy owns the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and continues to purchase shares in Arsenal. Colorado needs a playmaker in the midfield. Mehdi Ballouchy is not the answer and I agree that the trade that sent Kyle Beckerman to RSL was one of the biggest bone-headed moves that Fernando Clavijo did as manager.

    I have been a season ticket holder since last year and I will continue to have season tickets. I will support my club when they succeed and when they are mediocre. But, the excuse for the late season collapse this season rests on management, the players, and Gary Smith. Everyone needs to accept responsibility and their part of the blame. There are many soccer fans in Colorado and the majority need a reason to head up to DSG Park. Would a DP change that?? Possibly.

    Colorado also needs to cater to the die-hard football fans (soccer ultras). I am not talking about people that want to pick fights with RSL supporters, but stadium security need to lighten up when it comes to flagpoles. They STRICTLY enforce the 3 and 1/2 foot length on flagpoles which is ridiculous. We need to grow our supporters section and I feel that Rapids have kind of moved them in a corner. If one looks at Seattle, Toronto, DC United, Chicago, etc…the supporters are usually behind the goals or in DC’s case, the entire 50 yard line section.

    The Rapids have the potential to be one of the best teams in the league. Gary Smith foolishly called out his players after the 3-0 loss in Salt Lake City when he should have at least shouldered most of the blame. Salt Lake ran circles around us and stole the Cup from us too. (We beat them 2-0 in April at home, then had a 1-1 draw away in late May). The fans are behind Gary Smith and most of the players (usually with the exception of Ballouchy as he usually gets verbal abuse from fans during games).

    I know I went on a rant, but the Rapids need some playmakers in the midfield, they need management that has soccer experience and hopefully people that have won silverware with past clubs. Finally, the Rapids need to change their marketing and sales strategies. Even though the stadium is not in downtown Denver, they should be getting at least 15,000 (out of a maximum 18,000) fans each game.

    RAPIDS TILL I DIE!!!!!

  59. BK says:

    Ives, your $5000 fine is in the mail.

  60. Juna Carlos Osorio, Soccer Genius says:

    The Rapids have too many strikers. They need to play a 4-5-1 to contend.

  61. jb says:

    We haven’t had an “attraction” except for the other team bringing in star players. There is no reason to take children to the games because you can’t teach them anything by watching the Rapids. The Rapid organization is filled with amateurs who seem to have different visions. Their current coach, I feel inherited all these problems–but there is no leadership at the top that would make the Rapids interesting, relevant, or important to the crowded professional sports scene in Denver. They really don’t even try to compete.

  62. wahleyed says:

    Ah, SBI’s twice per year post on (swing at) the Rapids. I always wonder if he’s primarily frustrated that no one on the team gives him tips/insider info/time of day?

    Though, I suppose there’s usually not much intrigue going on with us…

    (SBI-Active imagination on you huh buddy? Interesting that you hadn’t made a single comment in a year but this makes you comment. I wrote the post because Colorado as a club is a mess and nobody else has written what I felt needed to be written. Contrary to what some people think, not every critical piece written is born out of a grudge. I write criticism when I feel criticism is warranted. Period.)

  63. BellusLudas says:

    Come on….everyone know that the Rapids haven’t made the playoffs since they switched mascots…that and we don’t have cheerleaders! :-)

  64. Brian Rants says:

    I remember being in the pressbox when I heard a loud collision and Peterson went down. A voice in the back of my head saying…that’s it, our last winger went down.

    If those freakish injuries don’t happen to all 3 wingers in a matter of weeks, right against the deadline…I daresay this SBI article is not written.

    That doesn’t mean some of the issues addressed above wouldn’t exist.

    I suggest 3 things
    1. Change in advertising. Give out hoodies to urban youth in Denver & Aurora. Hire graffiti artists to put the logo and Rapids art on the sides of buildings (legally).
    2. Appeal to true soccer fanatics. I’m usually surrounded by teams of 13 year old girls. I’m (truly) glad they are there, but what about the soccer fanatic friends I have here in Denver that won’t come to Rapids games. We need that passionate, educated fan coming, and we can do that by letting them make some noise and wave some flags.
    3. Give Gary Smith time. I think he’s the right man for the job. I believe in El Capitan.

    Don’t shoot the wounded Ives…MLS has an uphill battle here in the MLS…we are no more or less dysfunctional than all the MLS clubs except the few high-fliers.

    I love my club good or bad…but man that hurt the way things ended.

  65. Brian says:

    Mormon joke?

  66. timothy says:

    There is a lot already said here, so I’ll try to touch on a few new points and back up some points already made:
    1. The team is playing significantly better and scoring goals with Gary Smith as manager. Their collective first touch has improved and they aren’t playing the horrific long ball on windy days like they did under Clavijo.

    2. If you drive from Denver, pass the trucker station, pass the middle of nowhere on your left and BF Egypt on your right, you will come across DSG Park. The point is that the Rapids put the stadium in the wrong place. How do we have 3,000 seat Infinity Park rugby stadium in a convenient location and the Rapids in the middle of nowhere? DSG is an amateur soccer complex first, a concert venue second, and a place for professional soccer third

    3. The atmosphere is pretty terrible. The games have been about half full all season and the majority of the people at the games are kids who are still wearing their team warmups. The worst part about that is that those youth players don’t even respect the Rapids! If you take a kid, raise him on free entertainment, why would he ever want to start paying for something that he is used to getting for free? Plus, those kids grow up thinking that Rapids games are something you go to if you’re a kid. As kids get older, they want to act older. In Seattle, the older kids are going to Sounders games. If you look at the Rapids fan section, they are pigeon-holed into the corner, while DC United puts them front and center in the middle of the field. This puts them in direct view when games are televised and it provides incentive for people to show spirit. When fans get crazy, they have fun. People who are having fun get people to join and they come back. DC United gives free season tickets to their loudest, most dedicated fans. That’s not a give-away, that’s an investment in atmosphere. It’s worth it.

    4. I think they have done a smart thing in working with bars like British Bulldog in selling a beer, a bus ride, and a ticket for $30. I hear it is a lot of fun and maybe I’ll do it one day. But that probably won’t be soon, because there are plenty on uninterested youth soccer players with free tickets who are willing to sell them to me for $10.

    5. The point regarding how many people are in the Denver metro area + the number of pro sports we have is moot. The Rapids need to try to compete with the other sports. Fact: the Colorado Mammoth games regularly out-attend Rapids game. Fact: How many people really care about lacrosse? Kroenke did Mammoth right. Why can’t he try with the Rapids?

  67. Justin O says:

    Indeed I love those home jerseys. I guess that’s something!

  68. joel says:

    Stan Kroenke cant even run the Rapids…I feel
    sorry for Arsenal.

  69. Nats fan says:

    Wow, good comments Timothy. Colorado seems to be doing MLS 1.5 (I’d say 1.0 if they were still at Mile High): catering to youth teams and their parents (maybe they should hire babysitters at the game to help attendance), building no organic supporters group (do they even have one? I’ve never heard or seen them in the stands), sticking their product out into the outer boonie ‘burbs (who needs to take advantage of public transit in centrally located areas cuz cars solve everything), making their stadium a massive “complex” (really, the Rapids are just the biggest of the local youth league games), generating little to no buzz in the area and certainly none nationally (Denver resident: you mean Denver has a professional soccer team? I thought they only had those in Europe and Latin America), curious stadium cross-promotions (didn’t they have a “Faith” night with some Christian rock bands before a game this year because everybody wants some church with their football), and finally fielding a middling team with little creativity that’s a snore to watch, even admittedly by our own sometimes humble MLS standards. Really, how many people in Colorado would’ve even CARED had the Rapids made the playoffs? They’re stuck MLS circa 2001. Maybe they could bring back Alexi Lalas as a DP with his rockin’ cool orange goatee. Wasn’t Pele at the Olympics bid? Maybe he still has a good year or two left.

    Thing is, I seem to remember 2001 MLS mostly for bad, boring soccer (don’t worry, son, most long passes are SUPPOSED to go out of bounds), crashing attendance, few sponsors, next to no TV coverage, team contraction and a league swimming in red on the brink of oblivion. The weaker franchises with the antiquated business models in MLS are starting to reveal themselves and without a fundamental change in direction and approach they are only going to struggle much more in the future.

  70. wahleyed says:

    Wow. that was a quick straw man construction…every critical piece is born out of a grudge?

    I said ‘I wonder…’. Beat that straw man, beat him!

    (I’d like to post more, but SBI is (unfortunately) blocked at work and by the time I get home, the comments section has deteriorated.

    (SBI-No straw man. If I had a nickle for everytime someone suggested a vendetta after a critical piece has been written I could have retired by now.)

  71. Andrew says:

    Buddyhead just mentioned a rumor that they were offered $500k by the organizers of Coachella to reunite. Just need J. Spaceman’s (not-likely) approval.

  72. Jason says:

    Actually the Rocky Mountain Cup was funded through auctions of team donated merchandise from both RSL and Colorado, and fundraisers held in both cities. Each side has an equal claim to funding it, and the Committee did not track which side paid more.

  73. Beat Down Rapids Fan says:

    Touched a nerve Jason? Don’t kid yourself. The RSL fans paid way less than half on the cup. You know it we know it. Don’t try to act like you helped pay for it. A select few Colorado fans paid the majority of it. As far as your “committee” not tracking funding, there was nothing to track from RSL. Remember when your “committee” sprayed a 60 year old woman with a fire extinguisher. The fact is that your part of the “committee” is a bunch of chumps, who cry whenever there is money involved and we pick it up so we don’t have to listen to you whine…Money talks BS walks….maybe now that you actually have some fans you can START to carry your share of the load.

  74. inkedAG says:

    They ain’t called the CRAPIDS ffor nothing. :D