- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On February 2, 2010
- 4 Comments
- Andre Akpan, Colin Clark, Conor Casey, Drew Moor, Gary Smith, Greg Dalby, Jeff Larentowicz, Julien Baudet, Matt Pickens, Mehdi Ballouchy, Michael Holody, Nick LaBrocca, Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni, Steward Ceus, Ty Harden, Wells Thompson
We’re moving on in our look at each Major League Soccer roster to see where all the clubs are at in their pre-season. So far we’ve looked at Philadelphia, Chicago and Chivas USA. Today we stay out west and look at Gary Smith’s Colorado Rapids.
Last season had some ups and downs for the Rapids. Offensively at times they looked like they could not be stopped with Conor Casey and Omar Cummings leading the charge but injuries got in the way of post season glory for this bunch.
The winter months have given Smith and his club some time to make some moves and so far they’ve been pretty active. I still see this club making more moves before the season kicks off next month. But lets see how they are doing at each position right now.
Who they have: Matt Pickens and Steward Ceus
Notes: After Pickens things get pretty thin for the Rapids. No doubt they probably have a couple keepers in camp to fill that third keeper spot behind Ceus. I would imagine this isn’t a huge area of concern or we’d hear about them making deals for a backup or even a starter at this point in the winter. If I were them I’d be looking for a quality back up to pressure Pickens. I like Pickens but part of me thinks they could do better here.
Who they have: Drew Moor, Ty Harden, Julien Baudet, Michael Holody, Scott Paguta, and Chad Borak.
Notes: Another thin area for this club on paper but with guys like Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz on your roster you’re able to keep less defenders in a way. Some rumblings this winter have suggested that Mastroeni will be moved to the backline now that Larentowicz is in town. I think this is a good move for both parties as Mastroeni has started to show his age a bit in recent years and a move out of the midfield may be a wise thing.
Still if that doesn’t happen this group is incredibly thin. I like Baudet and sorta like Moor and Holody but that’s about it for me with this bunch. I think Smith and the front office need to get some more depth in this area or else they will have another up and down season. We saw last year that this group was decent but not nearly good enough to take on the top offenses in the league.
Who they have: Wells Thompson, Greg Dalby, Jeff Larentowicz, Mehdi Ballouchy, Pablo Mastroeni, Ciaran O’Brien, Jamie Smith, Nick LaBrocca, Colin Clark, Kosuke Kimura, and Ross LaBaux.
Notes: Parts I like include Thompson, Clark, Mastroeni, Larentowicz, LaBrocca, and Smith. After that I’m not entirely sure about this group. Look when everyone was healthy last year this group was as good as any but injuries showed their lack of depth in a big way.
I like the addition of Thompson and Larentowicz this offseason, they both should add the right parts that were missed last year at key moments.
Hopefully for the fans there and for the league we get to see Clark healthy here, I really believe he is one of those guys that has the potential to be a big deal in this league. We’ve seen moments out of him where he is special but injuries just killed it for us all last year with him.
I’d still like to see the Rapids go elsewhere in terms of their playmaker in the midfield. I’ve never been a Ballouchy guy and I probably never will be. He did improve last year but I think its time for them to move away and find someone that can create offense on a consistent basis.
Who they have: Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Andre Akpan, Facundo Diz, Pat Noonan, and Ross Schunk.
Notes: When they are on their game Casey and Cummings are the best pairing in the league, hands down. But as we saw at times last year they can get off track in a heart beat if the midfield isn’t in line or if the defense is giving up too much.
I still have to wonder if Casey’s head is on straight here and if he and Smith got everything sorted out after his little outburst after the season ended. At times this winter it sounded like he was going out of town but the rest of the time things were quiet.
The more I looked at their draft the more I did start to like the Akpan pick. It wasn’t great at the time but he was the best player available when they first picked in the second round. He isn’t ready to go just yet but towards the end of this year we’ll see how valuable this pick really can be.
As long as Casey and Cummings return to their stellar midseason form from 2009 the Rapids should be fine in this department.
I think this season still has a lot of ups and downs written all over this bunch. They’ve improved in certain areas but not addressing their defense as much as I’d like this offseason worries me a bit. I know adding Larentowicz is a defensive move but the backline still needs work in my eye. This club is either going to frustrate people with their midfield or they will struggle against top clubs yet again because of their midfield.
Lets face it this is a big year for the Rapids, no playoffs in three years is a dry spell for any club and with more clubs in the league it will only get harder. I believe the Rapids aren’t done this offseason though so it should be interesting how they fill their holes in the final month before the new year.