Colorado Rapids Season Preview

Colorado Rapids Season Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 10, 2008

As promised, another season preview as we continue to countdown until the first kickoff of the new season later this month. Today we focus on the Colorado Rapids.

2007 Record and Finish: 9-13-8, 35 pts., 10th overall, 4th in the west, missed the playoffs by five points

Player Movement:

Incoming: Jose Burciaga Jr. (trade with KC), Ciaran O’Brien (SuperDraft), Brian Grazier (SuperDraft), Cesar Zambrano (Supplemental Draft), Christian Gomez (trade with DC), Tim Ward (trade with Columbus), Rafael Gomes (transfer)

Outgoing: Daniel Osorno (retired), Zach Thornton (waived and then claimed by NY), Jose Cancela (waived), Tony Sanneh (waived), Nicolas Hernandez (trade with Columbus), Brandon Prideaux (waived and then claimed by Chicago), Chase Hilgenbrinck (signed then waived)

Questions Going Into 2008:

1. Did the club do enough to address their issues at striker?

Currently the club has a striker from Scotland in their cam (Tom McManus) but even he won’t be enough I think to help carry the scoring load this season. The Rapids were one of the worst offenses in the league last year, scoring just below a goal a game in 30 matches. That my friends is no stat to brag about.

Their leading scorer had six goals (Jovan Kirovsk), four from the penalty spot. Six goals!? Wow, that is sad really when you think about it.

Getting Christian Gomez will help though, which could lead some to believe that this club will scorer a lot more this season with how he is on the field. But Gomez has always had a solid striker to feed the ball to as well. Some thought that Herculez Gomez would be that player but after last season I have my doubts with him. Conor Casey showed at times how good he can be but is too injury prone to really make a difference.

2. Will Fernando Clavijo last the entire season?

That may be the most interesting question surrounding this club right now. Many, and I do mean, many thought he would have been out after last season but the Rapids’ management didn’t let him go like most had hoped. He was able to piece together a very solid group of defenders last year and that defense should be even better with Burciaga Jr. in the mix. Clavijo must find offense this season to save his job. He cannot go through the season like last year picking up random wins here and there to keep him safe.

Honestly, if I were a Rapids fan I would say playoffs or bust this season for Clavijo. If he reaches the playoffs, maybe consider bringing him back for another year. If not, fire him.

3. Can they make Dick’s Sporting Goods Park a real fortress?

Something that should have started last season, should happen this year with the additions of Gomez and others. This stadium should be the toughest to play in but it isn’t just yet due to the style of play that Clavijo has running right now. Honestly this club should utilize the width of the field, combined with the altitude of Colorado to their advantage.

The defense is ready to make this a fortress but the offense still needs work I think.

4. What kind of impact will Terry Cooke have this year?

Big time question is Terry Cooke and what he will bring this season. When he gets between 10 and 15 assists in a year the Rapids do well, but as we saw last year he didn’t and the Rapids missed the playoffs. I think with Christian Gomez on the field now for the Rapids it should free up Cooke like never before on the wings.

If Cooke returns to form and gets around 13 assists or so then the Rapids will be a playoff club, but if he doesn’t this club will again continue to struggle on the offensive side of things and fail to reach the playoffs.

5. Will he see the youth that has lead this club to two straight Reserve titles finally make its way to the main squad?

If you saw the Rapids reserves last year you saw some quality players. If you saw the main team play you only saw bits and pieces of quality players. I think if they mixed the two better and used some of that talent on the reserve side, this club would be able to actually be that dark horse pick that some think they could be this season.

Last year I thought they would do this and they proved me wrong as the Reserves kept to their side while the main squad continued to struggle. This is mostly to blame on Clavijo for not seeing the talent in his own club like he should.

Guys like Colin Clarke and Omar Cummings should see more time this season on the main squad. Their impact should effect this club more than most will think.

2008 Season Outlook:

One thing concerning me going into the season is injuries for this club. Already many important players have missed valuable time this preseason with the club like Herculez Gomez, Casey, Pablo Mastroeni, Ugo Ihemelu, Medhi Ballouchy, Mike Petke and Dan Gargan. Most of these guys won’t return until April or even May at best.

The start of the season will greatly depend on how well Christian Gomez can lead this bunch and if the defense will continue to be as solid as last year’s did.

The Rapids need to improve at home, last year’s 6-4-5 mark was terrible really for a new stadium. Getting healthy will be key but staying healthy for this club will be another thing all together. Their depth is still an issue but on defense they should still be fine. Offense will still be an issue though. I think the playoffs will be in reach but this club still has too many things to address (starting with their coach) before I want to project them into the playoff fold for this year.