- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On February 20, 2009
- 4 Comments
- 2009 Season Preview, Colin Clark, Conor Casey, Gary Smith, Nico Colaluca, Season Previews
Last of the season previews for this week (we will return Monday with more). Today we turn our attention out west to the Colorado Rapids. Last year the Rapids failed to reach the playoffs and were considered as one of the most inconsistent clubs in the league in 2008. Can they get over the hump in 2009? We will see.
2008 Record and Finish: 11-14-5, 38 pts., finished forth in West, missed playoffs.
Ty Harden (trade with LA for his MLS rights)
Matt Pickens (trade with Chicago for his MLS rights)
Ivan Guerrero (trade with DC)
Mike Petke (Waiver Draft)
Tim Ward (waived)
Bouna Coundoul (released)
Jose Burciaga Jr (out of contract)
Facundo Erpen (option declined)
Tom McManus (option declined)
Christian Gomez (trade with DC)
Mike Graczyk (trade with DC)
Unsigned Draft Picks:
Questions going into 2009:
1. Now that Christian Gomez is gone, who will be called to step up to be the playmaker in the middle?
The Rapids really had one of the best midfield last year…on paper. There is a reason why they play the game on the field because there are times that the best group of players on paper fail to live up to the hype. That was the Rapids last year. They had a great looking core of young and veteran players in the midfield but were never able to be consistent with their play.
Once Gary Smith took over as head coach we saw Christian Gomez get pushed to the bench and later on shipped back to DC. With Gomez gone we are left to wonder who will pick up the pieces in the middle of the park and set up the attack. Right now I just don’t know who that will be.
Instead of signing players from abroad this winter the club set out to lock up the core of young players to long-term deals. Will that pay off in 2009? We will have to wait and see. If we base it off the performance of the club last year I can’t say they will do any better than how they finished a year ago.
2. Can this club ever get consistent?
I really believe the biggest thing against this club right now is now the lack of depth or decent attacking options with Conor Casey, its the club’s history. They’ve never finished better than 3rd in the West and typically see a 4th place finish. This day and age in MLS a 4th place finish won’t get you in the playoffs each year.
I think over coming the history will help this club get more consistent. Its a weird way about it but I like the direction they are taking with Smith at the helm. They signed their core of young players and still have some room in the cap to possible get one or two more impact players before the season kicksoff.
3. Who is due for a breakout year? And who needs to step up?
Two part question here. A breakout year has to come from someone in the midfield like a Colin Clark (last year’s expected breakout player from this club) or Nico Colaluca. Both need big years in the midfield to help push this club to the playoffs again. Defensively this club is set in my mind but both guys need breakout seasons and the juice to step up and carry this club.
Look at the 2009 Schedule:
Unlike some clubs the Rapids have a balanced schedule. No Thursday-Sunday swings in one week and for the most part they play about the same amount of games each month. That is partly due to the fact that they aren’t in any other extra tournaments like SuperLiga or the CCL.
A lot of road games early and late in the year. That means they will have to make good on keeping DSG Park a fortress like it should be. If they get on a spell where they don’t win two in a row like last year then you could see this club struggle to reach the playoffs again.
2009 Season Outlook:
I like the youth on this club but there is still something missing for me. I want to see them be consistent. Offensively I just think they are missing an element that will keep them in games out west. I think defensively they are a little better than most people will expect. Plus getting Matt Pickens in goal will be a solid boost.
Right now I just don’t think this club is a playoff contending team. The youth could surprise people but I just don’t see them sneaking up on anyone to get an automatic bid out west and with how good the east is I just highly doubt they can get a wild-card spot.
Mainly, I just feel like this group is a year away from possibly being something special.