One of the common conversations heard among the players after Friday's game was about seeing the Rapids colors in the stands at Aloha Stadium. It was a welcome surprise to the players, especially since these are preseason games being played so far away from Colorado.
We knew that Kosuke, Pablo, and Kohei had friends and family in the stands, and we also heard fans calling out players names from the stands both before and after the game. Unfortunately we didn't get to find out who these fans were.
But we did get to talk to eight Rapids season ticket holders that are here for the games. The photo above shows Brandi and Bruce Mahaffey, Pamela Houpts, and Art, Ana, and Joddy Shipley, who ended up moving over and sitting right behind the team bench.
I also met third-year season ticket Stephanie Adams, who timed her busines trip just right to catch Friday's game before flying back to Colorado that evening. And some of you may have followed the tweets from Richard Bamber, a member of the Bulldog Supporters Group that flew out and posted photos and videos on the Bulldogs twitter account (@BulldogSG).
Finally, we met this group (below) of fans from Hawaii that have taken the Colorado Rapids as their team, mostly because of their interaction via twitter with Drew Moor and Eddie Ababio. They brought signs for both players and got to meet them in person. They then helped keep fans in Colorado updated on the game by tweeting their thoughts from inside the stadium. On Friday they stopped by at the hotel and met and got autographs from a bunch of the players.
And finally, we also want to thank and recognize the fans that stayed up late throughout the country late Thursday / early Friday following our tweets.
For the team, one of the best ways to prepare for a season is to be uninterrupted by weather - that's why so many MLS teams - including the Rapids - often spend much of the preseason in warmer climates. For the game day production crew - and other departments - it doesn't help when the players aren't around.
The production crew needs the players for photo shoots or video interviews - things you see on the scoreboard on gamedays. The marketing department needs photos or videos even earlier (you may have already seen some of the billboards around town). The media department has their own early deadlines, as they have a short window to submit their media guide content (as complete as possible) and get the books in time for the start of the season. And of course, for event like the Supporters Forum or last night's Rookie Season Ticket Holder Orientation, we need to wait for the guys to be around.
So back to the photos / videos. In order to facilitate it, the players were split into two shoots (you'd be surprised how long it takes to shoot some of this stuff). If you've seen the billboards and spots running on 9News, Pablo and Conor were in the early shoot - taken before the team left for California. Today we were able to squeeze in the rest of the team - before they leave for Hawaii.
It's somewhat of a guessing game for the staff, because with a large group of players - we don't know who will make the final roster or not. So we try to fit in as many guys as possible to have their photos ready.
The shoots took place at the Pepsi Center on the Denver Nuggets practice court. As you see in the photo above - which is clearly taken with a phone camera (the pro photographer was busy) - Quincy Amarikwa, Ross LaBauex, Andre Akpan, and Wells Thompson are playing a game of Knockout while they waited their turns. Hunter Freeman (left) and Joel Helmick (right) give us a sneak peak at the 2012 uniforms.
It took a little while, but the 2011 year-end award winners finally received their trophies last night.
Wells Thompson - Humanitarian of the Year, Drew Moor - Defender of the Year, and Jeff Larentowicz - Golden Boot winner and Most Valuable Player, were given their awards at the Rookie Season Ticket Holder Orientation on Wednesday evening in the press level of Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The players then stuck around for an informal forum, displaying a more personal (and funny) side than fans may know from seeing them on the field.
Wells talked about getting married in the offseason, saying how his friend bluntly told him he couldn't believe he found a women that said yes...Jeff said he was ok with Kosuke wanting to be a Ginger Ninja, 'now there can be two of us.' And Drew showed the large gathering of fans why he's the Ironman by standing up from behind to let them see his 165-pound small frame, and also by flexing.
The players then also talked briefly about their seasons and their successes. Wells may have taken the spotlight, however, by telling a story of his rookie year, when some senior players put Icy Hot in his underwear and tshirts, and his reaction when he put them both on. But that wasn't it, he also told the fans about the chickens and ducks he raises, including one that looks like the Aflac duck.
The players enjoyed the night, and we hope all the first and second-year season tickets did also. We look forward to seeing everyone at the games all year!
We saw this story posted on MLSsoccer.com's morning Kick Off article. It's a story posted on MLSReserves.com of a kid who's kindness and passion for the sport has touched countless of MLS players, including the Rapids' own Brian Mullan.
Evan, 10, met Brian when he was playing in Houston with the Dynamo. Allow yourself some time to read how Evan has positively affected by the players he's met, and how his own battles with countless surgeries has also inspired so many players in the League: READ THE FULL STORY.
Fans on twitter have come to know that Rapids President Tim Hinchey is pretty active on that platform. On Tuesday, he threw out this nugget about a new player joining the team soon:
With P1 Visa now sorted, looking forward to our new 22 year old Argentine play maker to arrive by Hawaii.Nice work Oscar and Bravo #COYR
— Tim Hinchey III (@tkhinchey3) February 8, 2012
Reader Justin Hein then replied to Hinchey, suggesting a contest to see if anyone could guess the name, and Tim agreed:
— Tim Hinchey III (@tkhinchey3) February 9, 2012
After an exchange in which Hinchey 'named' Hein the 'commish' of this contest, Justin provided the rules for winning:
— Justin Hein (@justin_hein) February 9, 2012
So there you have it...guess the name of the player Hinchey is referring to by sending him a note on twitter by Monday, Feb. 13 at 9 am MT with the tag #COYRapids. First one to get it right wins a 2012 Rapids kit...