State of the Rapids Roster
The Colorado Rapids are well known for playing their cards close to their chest during the offseason. This offseason has been no exception. But this perceived lack of openness does not mean that the Rapids have been inactive or have had a bad offseason. If anything, I believe that the Rapids have had a unassumingly strong offseason – with one glaring flaw. The Rapids still cannot score goals.
For the past several seasons, the Rapids have had one of the highest offseason roster turnover rates in MLS with nearly half of the team changing each year in the last three years. However, the turnover on the roster between the 2016 and 2017 season has been unsurprisingly low. Things worked in 2016 and they seemed to work well and Pablo is understandably hesitant to change anything too drastically. While the Rapids have had low turnover, they still have some turnover – most notably the departure of Jermaine Jones.
The Rapids added two Homegrown Players, central defender Kortne Ford and winger Ricardo Perez, in early January, both of whom played their way through the Rapids academy and several years in college. I watched both Ford and Perez play against Sporting KC on February 15 and was very impressed by Ford. He did not play like a kid right out of college. He was solid in the back and was probably the best Rapid before a full line change at half. Perez had a much quieter game. He neither impressed or disappointed me. He has the whole season to do both.
Additionally, the Rapids purchased Manchester City academy and self proclaimed Yaya-Toure-like player Nana Boateng. The 22 year old Ghanaian spent four years on loan in Norway and plays in the central midfield. I speculate he was purchased to fill a Jermaine Jones shaped hole in the Rapids midfield. Whether Nana is an adequate replacement for Jones will only be seen as the season progresses. But what we do know now is that Nana can ball.
The Rapids had the best defense in MLS last season. However, they had some serious issues on the opposite end of the field, finishing in 18th place for most goals scored. The Rapids can score goals and scored some absolute beauts. But, like the person in college who studied just enough to get the passing grade, the Rapids nearly set the record for most games won by a single goal. A win is a win is a win. But more goals are always a good thing and I think that this is where the Rapids need the most improvement – and have failed to truly bolster their offensive ranks.
Timmy Howard remains injure and it is likely that Zac MacMath will be starting in net at first. But, this is perfectly alright. Because Zac MacMath is the best backup keeper in MLS.
The Rapids acquired MLS journeyman Alan Gordon last month, joining Dom Badji, Kevin Doyle, and Caleb Calvert. And while Gordon is certainly a known quantity who can score goals, he is 35 years old with a lot of miles on those legs. Badji, Doyle, and Calvert combined for a total of 12 goals last season in all competitions. A team which competes for the Supporters’ Shield year in and year out must be able to get more than 12 goals (combined!) from its strikers. That being said, Calvert is scoring regularly in preseason. He looks dangerous regularly – knocking two past the Revs on the 18th in Tuscon.
According to Richard Fleming, the Rapids are still looking for a true goal scorer and will continue to do so until one is found. Floating around on the twittersphere is an unsubstantiated rumor that Werder Bremen’s Aron Johannsson could be on his way to the Rapids. If true, he would be an immense addition to the Rapids. Barring a Leicesteresque style collapse, I believe that this addition could make the Rapids a favorite for the MLS Cup or Supporters Shield.
But like my grandmother says: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.”