It's That Time of the Year
New Bulldog Blogger Tyler Fell tells it like it is!
Tyler Fell
Aug 24th 2010

It�s that time of the year again. The time of the year when all the local children head back to class, the time when European football takes over our Saturday and Sunday mornings, and unfortunately the time when the Rapids start their annual meltdown into playoff hopefuls instead of playoff locks.

This is my third season as a Rapid�s fan and I�d have to say I picked the most depressing three year period to become a fan. It started out oh so well. The first Rapids match I ever went to was a 4-0 thumping of the Red Bulls on July 4th of the 2008 season. Unfortunately, that season ended with our team struggling down the home stretch only to draw Real Salt Lake at Dick�s 1-1 on the final day of the season; a result that left us just outside the playoffs looking in. We were so close.

Certainly with a few tweaks to the roster and Gary Smith having an entire season in charge 2009 would be our year. But, alas the 2009 season would turn out to be a carbon copy of the previous one ending this time with a heavy loss to Real Salt Lake that again saw us narrowly miss the playoffs.

Now it�s 2010 and it�s looking like d�j� vu. Again, we started out hot just like in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately, we are again floundering at the most crucial of times. We are now officially outside of the playoff picture looking in with 10 matches left in the season. Let�s look at a couple of reasons why:

Mehdi Ballouchy � Now, it�s not Mehdi�s fault that he keeps getting playing time. Is he supposed to go up to the coaches and say, �I�m a footballer who is all flash and no substance. Please let me ride the pine for the good of the team.� No, it�s up to the coaches to see what every fan in the stands sees. Mehdi is supposed to be our creative force. Our attacking midfielder that scores goals and plays incisive passes that put Omar and Conor into positions where they can�t help but score. Instead we have a player who consistently plays more balls to the other team than he does to his own and a player who has scored only six goals in the last three seasons. However, all that being said, what other option do we have? If there is one position where we need a DP, this is it.

Consistent Starting Defense � I thought I noticed a rather critical correlation between inconsistent starting defenses and our recent lapse in form, so I did a little research. During the first portion of the season we had a nice consistent defense. Kimura, Wynne, Moor, Earls. It seemed to be working well. Then Gary went crazy. We have had no less than 10 different starting back 4�s this season. I don�t know even know what positions these guys really play anymore. And why did Danny Earls stop playing? To me he�s been one of the bright spots on the team and easily one of the best four defenders. Let�s not even start talking about Julian.

We have other problems, but these are the most glaring to me. However, despite these issues it can still all be turned around. First of all we need to get Ballouchy some help. I�m not a fan but due to a lack of anything better he has to play. We could help him by not playing such a defensive style.

What other team plays with two center defensive midfielders?

Pablo and Jeff are both good players, but they play the same position. They are being forced into the lineup at the expense of another attacking minded midfielder.

So, please Gary either give Jeff or Pablo free reign to play as an attacking midfielder or take one of them out.

You�d think a team that played such a defensive formation would have a good defense, however, somehow we don�t. The other thing we can do is start the defense that got us to the dance. The defense that helped us get off to such a good start was Kosuke, Wynne, Moor, and Earls. Besides Kosuke�s injury there was never a good reason to change from this set up. If it�s not broke, don�t fix it. In fact I don�t even care what defense Gary trots out there as long as he keeps it consistent. If someone gets hurt, yeah make a swap, but otherwise just let the unit gel.

Again we have Real Salt Lake on the final day of the season which just adds to the feeling of d�j� vu from the previous two years, but hope isn�t lost. This doesn�t have to be Groundhog�s Day. We don�t have to keep living the same nightmare over and over again. Let�s hope Gary heeds some of the above advice for the fan�s sake and for the sake of his own job.

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