The Colorado Rapids finished their 2016 campaign with a 15-6-13 record and finishing 2nd in the west with a 3-1 loss on aggregate to Seattle. Going from last in the west in 2015 to 2nd in 2016, Colorado improved in every facet of the game. The two noticeable transactions the Rapids made in 2016 were the acquisition of midfielder Jermaine Jones and Keeper Tim Howard.
Colorado had a quiet offseason, trading Jermaine Jones to the Galaxy for a 1st rd pick and general allocation money. The rapids then signed forward Alan Gordon to a 1yr deal. Colorado also declined options on numerous players.
Pablo Mastroeni implemented the 4-2-3-1 last year, choosing to rely on his defense more than offense. With the talent of Zac MacMath and Howard in goal, and 2nd year stand out Axel Sjoberg, the rapids would bunker down on defense and try and beat you on the counter attack. Shkelzen Gashi, Kevin Doyle, Marlon Hairston and Dominique Badji were all rotated throughout the season due to whomever was in form and had the hot hand.
In 2017, I see Colorado continuing their defensive stance as the unit is fully intact and will have another offseason to gel and get more comfortable. The offense has the firepower to score goals, but will they in Pablo’s current defensive scheme?
Expected Colorado line-up at time of writing
This is the same formation that Colorado implemented for most of the year. The 4-2-3-1 helped the Rapids keep a strong defensive shape and allowed for a strong counter attack. I would expect the same type of play and lineup this year.
Colorado returns 9 out of 11 starters this season and should continue to be one of the league’s best defensive teams. Howard will probably miss round 1, so McMath could serve as a fantastic $4.5 Mil. Fantasy pickup. Sjoberg remains one the elite options at centerback due to his size and knack for clean sheets and bonus points. I also expect the Rapids to do better on offense. With the youngsters Hariston and Badji up top, they should see plenty of chances. Gashi, Doyle and Gordon are also some players to keep an eye on.