Rapids Weekly Team Update

COMMERCE CITY CO (Sept. 10 2008) – The Rapids are currently experiencing nine days of preparation between games their longest stretch of the season as they look to earn three points in back-to-back matches for the first time this year.
The team trained Monday and Tuesday and were given Wednesday off before returning to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for three more days of training ahead of this Sunday's afternoon home contest vs. Chicago.
This week’s training has seen an increase in the intensity level of the players; observers at practice could see their desire to lift this club into a permanent playoff position. With elevated spirits the Rapids worked on drills emphasizing quick touches spacing and finishing.
The Rapids will need to be sharp in all phases of the game this Sunday as Chicago come to Denver carrying MLS’s best road record at 6-3-3.
On the plus side for the good guys the Rapids have not lost a regular season home game to Chicago this century with their last home loss against the Fire coming in 1999.
Both sides enter Sunday’s match having scored 30 goals on the season but it is the Fire’s defense that has led them to a tie with New England for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago’s defense is holding opponents to a league-best average of 0.78 goals per game while the Rapids are ranked eighth allowing 1.38 goals per contest. The Fire have allowed just 18 goals in 23 games. The Houston Dynamo set the all-time GAA record last season allowing just 23 goals in 30 games.
NEXT MATCH
Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire
Sun. Sept. 14
1:00 pm MT
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Preview
LAST MATCH
Colorado Rapids 1 at FC Dallas 0
Thurs. Sept. 4
6:30 pm MT
Pizza Hut Park
LATEST INJURY UPDATES
Ugo Ihemelu joined his teammates back in the full mix of training this week and could see a return to the pitch soon as he has been upgraded to 'Probable' in the Injury Report. Ihemelu has missed the Rapids’ last four matches after suffering a concussion against Toronto FC on August 9.
Mehdi Ballouchy saw no change in his status as he works on his comeback from a concussion suffered on August 23.
Greg Dalby is joined this week by Conor Casey on the IR listed as 'Doubtful' for Sunday’s match. Casey injured his right ankle in the Rapids' Thursday night win over FC Dallas.
The most serve injury last week occurred in the Rapids Reserve match on Friday. Goalkeeper Chris Sharpe dislocated his right ankle and is expected to be out of commission around eight weeks.
WEEKLY TEAM NOTES
Searching For Two In A Row: After 23 games this season the Rapids are still searching for back-to-back victories this year. Only once in team history the 2000 season has Colorado ever gone an entire season without consecutive wins. The Rapids enter this Sunday’s match against Chicago following a 1-0 victory over FC Dallas. Earlier this season the Rapids strung together points in three consecutive games with a 4-0 win over New York and draws with San Jose 1-1 and FC Dallas 2-2 respectively.
MLS Talent Improves & Freeze Date: Now that both the transfer windows – for players under contract joining MLS and for those leaving MLS – have closed it is possible to analyze the balance of talent for 2008. Since MLS Cup 2007 more than 50 significant signings have joined MLS clubs and are still active. This list includes players from 21 countries including more than a dozen from the United States that have returned to their home country.
The average age of the active new signings is 28 years 226 days. They include current and former members of the senior national teams of Argentina Costa Rica England Guatemala Honduras Liberia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Poland Puerto Rico Switzerland the United States and Venezuela.
As regard for MLS rises internationally more clubs around the world are signing MLS players and paying more than ever for them in transfer fees. Since MLS Cup 2007 17 notable MLS players transferred to clubs abroad. To see a list of the significant incoming and outgoing players since the end of the 2007 MLS season click here.
Next Monday September 15 is the MLS roster freeze date or trading deadline. Teams have until 3pm MT that day to complete any player transactions.
Rapids Youth Teams Update: The club is in the process of evaluating Under-16 and Under-18 players for the 2008-09 Development Academy season which begins in November. Finally registration is open for the Rapids Junior Academy leagues that will begin this fall in the Stapleton and Commerce City areas. For more information on any of the Rapids Academy programs call 303-727-3575 or click here.
Rapids In the Community: The Rapids play a strong role in our local community as well as on the field. Here are some of the outreach programs the Rapids are currently involved in:
** Shop with a Player on Friday Sept. 12 from 4-6 p.m.
Fifteen kids from the Boys & Girls Club will receive a $100 "back to school" shopping spree courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods at their store in Lakewood and they will shop with Rapids players.
**Totes for Hope
The Rapids Food Bank of the Rockies and Teammates for Kids are working together to provide nutritious food to lower income families. Food Bank of the Rockies created the Totes of Hope program and the Rapids and Teammates for Kids will donate $5000 dollars to this program to fill a Colorado Rapids backpack every Friday afternoon for one full calendar year for 40 children at the Commerce City Boys & Girls Club. Pre-game at the Rapids game on Sept. 20 a check in the amount of $5000 will be presented to Food Bank of the Rockies for Totes of Hope and the Commerce City Boys & Girls Club. The 40 children will parade around the field wearing their backpacks during the check presentation.
**Rapids Equipment Drive
The Rapids Passback and Soccer Dreams Without Borders will be collecting new and slightly used soccer gear during the Rapids vs. New England Revolution match on Saturday Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Every family donating will receive a buy one get one free ticket voucher to the Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo match on Saturday Oct. 4. This will mark the fourth and final Passback equipment collection during the Rapids 2008 season and equipment will be collected outside Gates B and G beginning an hour and a half prior to kickoff.
Crowded Calendar: All three of Denver’s in-season sports teams will be playing at home on Sunday afternoon. The Rapids kick things off at 1:00pm before the Rockies take on the Dodgers at 1:05pm at Coors Field. Finally the Broncos host the Chargers at 2:15pm at Invesco Field at Mile High. This isn’t a unique occurrence in the Mile High City as on October 7 last year the Rapids Rockies Broncos and Avalanche all had home games on the same day.