QnA with Paul Bravo

Rapids Technical Director answers Rapids facebook fans' questions

Earlier this week, we asked fans of the Rapids facebook page to post questions for Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo. Below are Bravo's answers to the questions:

What was your greatest moment as a Rapids Player?

“The two greatest moments that I had as a Rapids player were probably two of the more disappointing moments as well. Those two would be the two finals that we got into, the Open Cup final in 1999 and the 1997 MLS Cup Final. Certainly those were great moments for the club and for me, personally. But also, they were disappointing because we did not win.”

Are there any specific developments regarding bringing in a designated player? What position would you most likely look at acquiring a DP?

“For us, that discussion is ongoing. We discuss it, and we’re looking for the right fit. But we haven’t gotten into any specific players at this moment; we are just on the look-out. For us, I think we’d be looking more into the attacking part of the team; somebody with personality who can not only inspire our current players, but our fan base as well.”

How is the Sueno changing talent evaluation in MLS?

“I’ve followed the Sueno periodically. It has been a great piece for a lot of players that have actually come through. There was Jorge Flores at Chivas who came through the Sueno event and has made an impact at the MLS level. I think we’ll continue to see players like that come through the system, and hopefully have an impact on the league.”

Is there any truth to that rumor that the Rapids are looking at players in Ghana, and if so, who are you looking for?

“There is a truth that we are spanning the globe and looking for players in every part of the world, and west Africa is no different. I have personally been there during my time with LA.

We will be looking to make some more trips into west Africa, but we currently don’t have anyone there, other than a couple of pairs of eyes that are trying to flag some players. For us, the types of players we’d be looking at in those areas are probably 18-22 year old players that have potential, that we could potentially bring in and develop, that we could possibly put on the field for the Rapids.”

Since Arsenal is our sister club when can we expect them to come here and play/train? Is that something that could even happen at all? Is anything being done to secure international friendlies for this year?

“As far as Arsenal goes, that is up to them. We do not have a lot of say in where they do their off-season and pre-season trip. We have made it clear that our facilities are at their disposal if they ever chose to come here, but it is really more of whether or not it fits their bigger picture.

As far as international friendlies, from where I sit, our focus is getting back to the MLS Playoffs. That is first and foremost in our mindset, but if there is a chance to bring quality teams to Colorado, we will look to do it. A lot of it has to do with timing, schedules, breaks in schedules. It has been difficult to this point, but we continue to explore those opportunities.”

How much input do you and the front office have in deciding which formation to play? Is that a Gary Smith only decision, and does it have to do a lot with the types of players at your disposal for a particular week?

“From the front office standpoint, we make our suggestions, but at the end of the day, it is up to Gary. Gary bases that on the personnel that we have at the time. We have recently moved from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and that has been a positive change for us, it fits our team right now. It also gives us some flexibility – being able to play in multiple formations is important. At the end of the day, Gary makes the decision, but we definitely give some insight.”

Is there an emphasis on advancing to the final 16 of the US Open Cup this year?

“Yes, I think that we’re a club that wants to win every competition that we are involved in. So there will certainly be an emphasis on getting into the Open Cup proper. We want to win the Open Cup, MLS Cup, the Supporters Shield.”

Looking at the squad, what pieces do you see as being the last parts to the puzzle for a run at the championship? With nine games under your belt so far this season, what areas are you looking to improve on the roster?

“I think that the staff is very happy with the current group. Having said that, we are always looking for a chance to make ourselves better and we will take advantage of that, should it arise. But right now, I think, the staff is very comfortable with the players that we currently have. We are getting some players healthy again: Julien getting back in on a continuous basis, and hopefully Jamie Smith can come back into the attack soon. But right now we are definitely comfortable with where the group is.”

Is it really a coin flip to host USOC matches? if so why do the Rapids have such bad luck?

“The league has been very good about being transparent with this process. I have actually been on video conference and on a conference call during both of the occasions where we lost the flip. So, the fans can blame me for calling it wrong. It is a legitimate coin flip, we’ve just been a little bit unlucky.”

(Note: a coin flip is to determine the host team for the Open Cup play-in games, which are managed by Major League Soccer. Once a team enters the U.S. Open Cup tournament, the process to host games is through a blind bid proposal that is submitted to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which than selects the host team).

D.C. United started 19 y/o GK Bill Hamid, a product of their Academy system. How is the Rapids Academy doing, and do we have any young stars to keep an eye on and support coming from it?

“Our Academy is something that we’ve really worked to focus on since I’ve been at the club over the past 18 months; we are really working to get it up to speed.

There are a couple of players in the older age group that we are going to keep a close eye on, one being James Rodgers, who is a junior and playing with U-18s. James has come into the first team (training) already, and he has a tremendous future ahead of him.

We do have a tough few players coming through, and we’ll continue to work on it. College education is a very important component to many of these players. This is changing throughout the league with players like Bill (Hamid) and Tristan Bowen who got an assist on an LA Galaxy goal (on Thursday at Dallas).

That is a focus for us, to be able to use those two slots that the league has given us for home-grown players. I think that in the next 6-18 months you could see an academy product playing on the first team.”

Is there any type of scholarship or something like that that would allow a player to get looked at through the Academy? 

“Yes, absolutely! We provide scholarships for players who are in need of that. Our website has all of the information regarding Academy tryouts and we will be doing tryouts shortly. Click here for information on camps and Scholarship information.

How far is Andre Akpan from playing? What kind of impact do you see him playing in the near future?

“I think Andre has done a good job up to this point. He could get a chance in the Open Cup, just as he did in the last Open Cup play-in game. At that point, it is up to Andre to start chipping away at some of the playing time of the first few players. It isn’t easy when you are playing behind Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, but I think that Andre has a bright future.”