Benny Feilhaber

The Price is Right! How Jack Price fits the Rapids, and the Rapids fit Jack Price by Alex Bartiromo

Amidst another difficult season for the Colorado Rapids, a few changes have provided hope for the club and its supporters. Sacking Anthony Hudson was long overdue after a season and a half of shaky leadership, poor results, and a feeling that the team was falling behind newer and better run MLS franchises. The change in manager, plus the addition of various proven MLS vets like Nicolas Mezquida, Clint Irwin, Sam Nicholson, and Keegan Rosenberry; undervalued young talents such as Lalas Abubakar and Jonathan Lewis; and the development of homegrown talents Cole Bassett, Sam Vines, and Sebastian Anderson has reinvigorated the squad and given fans hope for an improved season in 2020. However, this has left many of the players acquired under Hudson in limbo. Will they form a part of the Rapids core moving forward, or will they be victims of another Rocky Mountain rebuild? One player who has proven his value to the team—albeit in an unusual way—is also one of the least talked about around the league. That player is Jack Price.

*Hold for applause*

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Lowered Expectations: The International "Break" by Harrison Crow

I know that everyone is pretty wrapped up with the International Break and how awesome it has been for those in North America between Canada winning twice, Mexico looking like a world power, and the US ... well, two out of three isn’t bad right?

 But don’t forget we had Major League Soccer last weekend! So let’s talk about that and the happiness associated five missed golden opportunities, as we do every week. Let’s get it!

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xN: Deadline Day Musings by Ian L.

It’s always fun to see what happens in MLS when the player store is about to close for the season. Some teams, having resolved all of their player needs early, get to relax and stand in judgment of those teams forced to scamper about on deadline day looking for oh god just ANY decent midfielder please. There’s a parable about an ant and a grasshopper you’ve no doubt heard. The ant stores up all the food they need for winter, while the grasshopper spends its time, I don’t know, hopping on grass I suppose. When winter comes the grasshopper begs the ant for some food but the ant is like lol, and there’s a lesson to be learned in that. Anyway, LAFC are the ant, Colorado are the grasshopper, and New England is the heretofore unseen third character - a drunk shirtless carpet beetle rolling around the snow screaming how they’re going to live forever.

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Colorado Rapids 2019 Season Preview by Benjamin Bellman

Folks, this is what a re-build looks like. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park might as well have had a “Pardon Our Dust” sign posted at the ticket office every home match, and the only good thing about the Colorado Rapids’ 2018 season is that it’s over. Still, 2018 was not wasted by the club, with players joining and leaving the roster all year. In many ways, this was the “game” that fans, including myself, have really been paying attention to. Head coach Anthony Hudson and GM Padraig Smith certainly had their work cut out for them a year ago, and it’s clear that this was always going to be a multi-year process, especially given the two bloated Designated Player contracts expiring at the end of 2019.

The Rapids are poised for an interesting 2019 season as the roadies for Tim Howard’s Magical Retirement Tour. They won’t (and shouldn’t!) be on anyone’s playoff prediction lists, but they’ll be a sleeper pick by a couple experts (pump Bobby Warshaw’s takes directly into my veins). Now that seven teams from each conference get a playoff game, Colorado should strive to be in the hunt all year, and given the crapshoot that is MLS, there’s no reason to say they can’t make it. But playoffs or not, Rapids fans would be truly pleased with some wins, some goals, and some talented young players to carry the team into a new decade.

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LAFC: All About Attacking Depth by Joseph Lowery

Bob Bradley and the Los Angeles Football Club front office have created something few other MLS teams can replicate. They have formed a team that plays one of the more entertaining styles that MLS has ever seen and they are getting results.

LAFC’s brand of soccer is all about controlling the game through passing and dynamic attacking. They pass extremely well in every third of the field (they are in the top five in terms of passing completion percentage in each third), which leads to dangerous attacks pressuring opposing defenses from all areas. The only way this style can be sustained in Major League Soccer is if the team using it has enough players outside of the starting eleven capable of coming into the lineup and playing that style without a clear drop off. In the same way the New York Red Bulls need every single player on their roster to excel at closing down opposing players and cutting off passing angles in their pressing system, LAFC’s style demands that every rostered player is capable of playing their passing, attacking style.

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Chalk Talk: The Lee is Free by Jason Poon

Early Wednesday morning, or late Tuesday evening (depending on your time zone I guess), the New England Revolution announced they had sent Lee Nguyen to LAFC for $950k of allocation money. Had the Revolution not been so stubborn about trading Nguyen in the first place, who requested a trade way back in November and then again in December, the Revs likely could've hauled in more for Nguyen’s services. That aside, the folks here at ASA are glad that Lee is free to do his beautiful soccer things.

LAFC picking Nguyen up is a bit of a head scratcher for some, given it’s not entirely clear where Lee will fit under Bob Bradley’s scheme, but here’s how I see him fitting in.

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Los Angeles FC 2018 Season Preview by Kevin Shank

In October of 2014, it was announced that an expansion team was coming to Los Angeles. Three and a half years later, it seems like LAFC are still waiting for a full team. That’s not to say that head coach Bob Bradley cannot field a talented or competitive team, but with only 20 players on their roster, 2018 will be a long season if they cannot fill out their team.

Roster

LAFC’s current situation seems like a mix between 2017 expansion sides of Atlanta and Minnesota with their top-level coach, headline-worthy foreign signings, and a thin roster that leaves people wondering where this team will finish. While this is not Bob Bradley’s first time coaching in MLS or even managing an expansion team, it’s clear that this is a different league than what he oversaw up until 2006. Nevertheless, Bradley will be a great coach for the Black and Gold as he has one of the more impressive resumes in the league (although I bet Atlanta’s Tata Martino or NYCFC’s Patrick Vieira couldn’t last 85 days managing an EPL side).

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Sporting Kansas City 2018 Season Preview by Kevin Shank

The 2017 campaign saw Sporting Kansas City bring home silverware in the US Open Cup while simultaneously having a confusing, and ultimately disappointing MLS season. On the back of a rebuilt attacking corps, they're hoping for a return to MLS Cup in 2018.

2017 in review

It is hard to define the 2017 season as a success or failure because SKC was a team that had the league’s best defense but was also paired with an underperforming offense whose top attacker was traded midseason. In addition, Kansas City backed into the playoffs and lost their fourth straight knockout round playoff game, but all in all, they still managed to win a trophy.

Let’s start the 2017 season analysis with the impressive SKC’s defense that led the league with 33.77 xG conceded and 27 goals against (excluding own goals). Looking at the backline, SKC was the only team to allow fewer than one expected goal against per game by limiting their opponents to few and low-quality shots. The graphic below shows just how good the defense led by Goalkeeper-of-the-Year Tim Melia and an injury-free Ike Opara was compared to the rest of league.

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Sporting Kansas City 2017 Season Preview by Jason Poon

The 2016 campaign for Sporting Kansas City ended on a .500 note (13-13-8), but it was not a team that went through the season that picked up wins, losses or draws on a consistent basis. It was a campaign that saw the team enjoy the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and everything in between. 

Sporting roared at the start of the season, picking up four wins out of five, seemingly ready to put behind the demons of that gut wrenching penalty playoff loss to Portland in 2014. But after flying out of the gates, SKC immediately washed away those gains by picking up just one win in the next 11 matches. SKC would limp into the playoffs as the fifth seed, only to be knocked out by the eventual MLS Cup winners (again) on a late header from Seattle Sounders' forward Nelson Valdez.

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