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21 February 8:05 pm

Amidst the training and preparation, the players will also be involved in a friendly competition that will happen throughout the stay in Hawaii. The coaches split the 28 players into four teams of seven - led by Pablo Mastroeni, Matt Pickens, Drew Moor, and Jeff Larentowicz, respectively. We don't yet know all the rules, but we know they'll be challenged on and off the field in fun exercises and activities, with the winners of each event gaining points.

After today's scrimmage and practice, the coached came up with this race: each team member had to head a ball backwards to a teammate, and so on. The team that made it to the end of the field without the ball hitting the ground was the winner. They had a few minutes to figure out their strategy, which for some was a matter of order.

Drew's team made it down on the first try, Pablo's team finished second. And after a number of re-starts (when the ball hit the ground), Jeff's team came in third. Unfortunately for Matt, they didn't even need to continue trying to finish.

With one camera we had to choose which team to follow. I liked Pablo's team's strategy, so I chose them and missed the winning race. So even though we missed it, we figured we might as well show the footage we got:

20 February 9:22 pm

After the team completed their first training session in Hawaii, the schedule showed the afternoon was off - no training. But at lunch, the learned it was only off from a full training session. The guys that are playing in the scrimmage on Tuesday had a video session with the coaching staff, and the rest of the guys went for a gym workout. Still, they were all done by around 4:30, which gave them plenty of time to have some fun on the beach right in front of the hotel.

It started out just laying on the beach, but soon they got to digging. Davy Armstrong (above), Quincy Amarikwa, and Joel Helmick used their sandals to made the pit, then Davy volunteered to be the first one in. Soon, Ross LaBauex and Andre Akpan began pushing the sand on top, then Tony Cascio and Steven Emery. In no time, Davy was covered by 2-3 feet of sand, but he was easily able to get out.

So now the challenge was making it more difficult for the next person. Quincy begins digging closer to the ocean, where the water would weigh the sand down.

Now is was Tony's turn, sitting in the pit as the guys used their legs, arms, and sandals to cover him up. It worked, Tony couldn't move, needing their help to get out. CLICK HERE FOR MORE PICS

16 February 9:07 pm

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.

 

16 February 1:41 pm

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!

15 February 3:50 pm

Yesterday we posted the news that Mexican forward Daniel Frias joined the Rapids preseason camp. For some reason his name had a familiar ring to it. Upon googling him, I came across his story - and photos, and videos, and more stories.

His full name is Julio Daniel Frias Adema. He goes by Daniel Frias, but he's also often referred to as "El Maleno," which Oscar Pareja tells me it roughly translates as "The neighborhood guy."

He's somewhat of a legend in Cuidad Juarez (Mexico), the place where he was born and name of the team on which he debuted in the Mexican First Division at age 29. Previously, he played in El Paso, Texas. THIS STORY IN THE EL PASO TIMES is about his journey from the minor leagues of U.S. soccer, to the top division in Mexico. 

But that doesn't tell his full story - the reason behind the support he's received from his hometown. Frias had a troubled youth which included violence and drugs - in a city still known for such issues. But thanks to soccer, he straightened himself out, making his pro debut at 20-year-old (lower division). He's been greatful for the support he's received and opportunities he's been presented with ever since. HERE'S MORE OF HIS STORY IN ESTO (SPANISH)

Twenty-nine is thought to be an 'old' age for a player to finally make a top division. But his story goes even futher. After Juarez was relegated, he signed with Jaguares and last year (April 2011) he scored a goal in the prestigious Copa Libertadores. (Google his name for more info and highlights)

 

14 February 2:48 pm

Jeff Larentowicz may be the original Ginger Ninja, but it's looking like he might have some competition. Kosuke Kimura returned from the California portion of preseason with red hair, though that was not his intention...he explains in the video below:

14 February 10:41 am

In recognition that the club expects to announce a new player later today - one who had been referred to by Paul Bravo and Tim Hinchey as a playmaker, or "a #10" - we put compiled the history of the Colorado Rapids all-time #10s. See how many you can answer....we'll post the history on ColoradoRapids.com at some point following the announcement.

How many players have worn the #10 for the Rapids since 1996?

What was the only year that no Rapids player wore #10?

Which Rapids #10s scored playoff goals?

How many Rapids #10s were born in the United States?

How many Rapids #10 were born in Africa?

How many Rapids #10s were born in South America?

How many Rapids #10s were born in Europe?

How many Rapids #10s were born in Central America or the Caribbean?

Name the three Rapids #10s that attended college in the USA?

Which Rapids #10s were acquired during a season?

Of those #10s acquired within a season, how many goals did they combine to score in the season they were acquired?

Which player changed from #10 to a new number after one season?

Who is the only #10 to coach a game for the Rapids?

Which #10 scored the first-ever goal at Dick's Sporting Goods Park?

13 February 8:13 pm

Discount offers still exist if you are thinking about following the team to Honolulu next week...CLICK HERE FOR CONTACT INFO:

11 February 8:12 pm

Well, they were much braver then the rest of us.

Members of the front office staff dressed in Rapids uniforms and old cheerleader outfits and topped with a Rapids burgundy beanie jumped into the icy waters of Chatfield Reservoir this afternoon as part of the 4th Annual Colorado Polar Plunge to help raise money for the Special Olympics.

At a little after 1 pm, with the temperature not quite at 20 degrees, the group walked out on the ice of the reservoir to the cut out triangle that formed the four feet deep 'pool.' I can only imagine the questions going through their heads as they stood on the edge and finally jumped in.

Well done, crew!

(Clockwise from top row L-R): Peter Schwartz, Wayne Brant, Jeff Jacobson, Alex Teal, Christa Dellebovi, Tim Hinchey, Rachel Sweeney, Rebecca Payne, Kristen Sonsma

 

10 February 1:28 pm

According to Weather.com, Saturday's noon tempurature in Denver is supposed to be about 27 degrees, with a 'feels like' of 19 degrees. That's what nine members of the Colorado Rapids front office staff will be facing as they take the Polar Plunge to help raise awareness and money for Special Olympics Colorado.

President Tim Hinchey and CMO Jeff Jacobson are among the staffers that will dress in old Rapids uniforms and the old cheerleading outfits and jump into the freezing waters of the Chatfield Reservoir. The other members of the staff (that have not yet chickened out) are Wayne Brant, Alex Teal, Rebecca Payne, Rachel Sweeney, Christa Dellebovi, and Kristen Sonsma.

Even though online registration is closed, people (or teams) can sign up on the spot beginning at 11 am. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.