1) Where is the Rapids fanbase generally with the abrupt exit by Oscar Pareja and with the insertion of Mastroeni?
Obviously, the majority of us were very disappointed with Pareja's exit, especially since it was dragged out far longer than it should have been thanks to the Rapids' front office trying their hardest to keep him while he failed to say a thing to anyone, only after it was finished admitting that he had wanted to go home all along. Pablo was a good hire to replace him though; he's a guy with fantastic soccer smarts and a guy who players loved to play with and now love to play for, so we're not too worried about the future with him at the helm compared to Pareja. So far as a coach he's kind of been the anti-Pareja, actually. Though the tactics and philopsophy haven't changed much, this team is far more defensive minded than Pareja's group ever was, and the offense has been having large amounts of trouble. Compare that to 2012, when Pareja's team was scoring goals around the average league pace but also allowing a hilarious amount into their own net. It will be interesting to see Pablo grow into his role; there are a few concerns with his man management and tactics so far, but nothing that you don't find with most first-time coaches stepping straight from the field to the sideline. For the most part, the Rapids fanbase seems frustrated, but happy for the future considering the circumstances.
2) For me, Deshorn Brown is one of the best young forwards in MLS. What makes him so dangerous and what is his potential?
Deshorn has a rare combination of both blazing speed and surprising strength, something you don't often see in strikers in this league. He can take on just about anyone in the league 1v1 and win the battle, making him one of those always-sought 'players who can make chances on their own'. He's unpredictable as well -- I've called him the 'Jamaican embodiment of Chaos' -- and has very often caught defenders unaware on a loose or winnable ball by appearing out of nowhere to swipe it away. All that means that his potential is through the roof, and if he grows enough he could easily be one of the best strikers in MLS. That said, he does have his foibles. His finishing is shaky at best and hideous at worst, which is somewhat covered up by the fact that he gets so many chances in a game that he often makes up for four misses with a goal (think of him as Sporting Kansas City's offense: the player). His first touch is nearly always too heavy when it's played to him long, and he's not shown much ability with his head despite his strength and size. He also plays a bit too selfishly, refusing to pass in situations where he can see daylight even if another player might end up with an even better chance.Even if his finishing stays hilariously bad and his tunnel-vision never goes away though, he'll always be a guy with 10+ goal a season potential, which won't inspire that many complaints.
3) There is a lot of argument made in the RSL fanbase that the Rapids are no longer the number one rival. Is RSL still the runaway rival for Colorado?
We've had a bit of a rivalry with FC Dallas that has been steadily growing since we met in the MLS Cup in 2010, and that only has grown now that Pareja has flown the coop back there. Seattle seems to regard us as a rival since the Brian Mullan thing three years ago, but that's never really caught hold, and everyone hates Seattle anyway so that hardly counts, amirite? Past those, if you asked a sampling of Rapids fans I doubt you would find anyone who would say that our top rival isn't still RSL. Salt Lake is the closest rival to the Rapids geographically and the one with the most history of actual bad blood.
Questions from Burgundy Wave about Real Salt Lake
1) Similar to the Rapids, RSL changed coaches this off-season and brought in a guy expected to keep the general philosophy of his predecessor. Has Cassar made any changes, even minor, since taking the helm?
The longer the season goes on, the fewer changes I see in the organization with regards to Cassar. The biggest change is his attitude compared to Kreis'. Cassar is a positive guy and I have yet to see him not upbeat in his interviews. He seems to be a players' coach. By not changing the style of play, Cassar has solidified the RSL system and shown that this philosophy of a team-first, "play the right way" mentality is here to stay. Cassar has of course put his own touches on the tactics and has a large say in who to keep with the club and who to bring in, but RSL's identity is healthy and looks to be here for the long term thanks to Cassar wanting to stay the course. In fact, when he was hired part of his argument was "Why would you hire anybody else?" He had been with Kreis for years and understood the club as well as anyone.
2) Now that World Cup rosters are out, specifically for the USMNT, who is expected to take over for RSL's missing starters?
The players that are on the World Cup rosters, i.e. Beckerman, Rimando, and Saborio have said multiple times that it is the team that makes RSL and that they will be able to continue the pace while the three of them are away. So in that sense, the whole team will have to step up a bit. If we are to talk specific players, Cole Grossman will likely cover Beckerman's spot, Jeff Attinella will cover Rimando's spot, and Devon Sandoval is likely to cover for Saborio, although I thin the forwards will rotate minutes rather than a straight swap. All of them have proven themselves to be more than capable when they have started games over the past year and half or two.
3) I watched a lot of Luke Mulholland last year since I live in Tampa, and it was requested by my Rowdies pals that I ask how he's doing out there.
Luke Mulholland has fit seamlessly into Real Salt Lake. I think it is fair to say that he has exceeded expectations thus far. He has proven to be very effective in the attack and has three goals thus far (and truly he should have four since his goal against the Galaxy int he opening game was wrongly called off) to go along with two assists. He is really challenging Luis Gil for the starting spot on the side of the diamond. He is quickly working his way up on RSL fans' favorite player list.