Colorado Rapids 2017 Review
Let’s not sugarcoat this. The Pids sucked last year. Coming off of a historic run in 2016, where the defense was one of the best ever, the expectations in town were high. Statistically the 2017 season was really bad, as a fan it hurt. From a fantasy side it was rough. Tim Howard and the Defense were solid picks in 2016. In 2017, you couldn’t ask the D to stop a beach ball from floating into the back of the net. Marlon Hairston was the highest point getter of 2017 with 132 points and honestly that isn’t terrible. (tied with Larin.)
Out: John Berner, Bobby Burling, Dennis Castillo, Joshua Gatt, Luis Gil, Alan Gordon, Mohammed Saeid, Mekeil Williams. Everyone who needed to go has gone. Obviously I am going to miss Saeid and Gordon. Neither were big fantasy options, but as a fan they were two of the greatest guys. Same goes for Bobby Burling.
In: Johan Blomberg, Kip Colvey, Jack McBean, Deklan Wynne, Edger Castillo, Jack Price, Alan Winn, Frantzdy Pierrot, Thomas Olsen, Brian Lloski, Niki Jackson, Tommy Smith, and new coach Anthony Hudson. There have been a few more rumors Aldo Kalulu of Lyon, The Panamanian defender Roderick Miller, adding Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack, and a possible trade involving Axel Sjoberg. A lot of new faces have come in this year and some good signings at that.
The biggest may be new head coach Anthony Hudson. He has come out and given a tactical identity for the team before even playing a minute.
Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture
The Rapids will be in a 5-3-2. Knowing the formation makes this a little easier but with so many signing the team will be almost unrecognizable compared to last year.
Hairston and Castillo are locked in wingback. There is now some good speed on the outsides, and solid interior defense with Kortne Ford, Sjoberg and Padraig Smith. Stefan Aigner moves into a creator role allowing Shkelzen Gashi find the game and fill gaps in the space left by Dominique Badji’s speedy runs. The Rapids look to mimic some things that made TFC successful in 2017. This is very speculative, no one knows how all the players will play together. But there are some things look towards with all these roster moves.
Badji is now surrounded by more creative players. With hope, this will increase his goal tally similar to the season Gyasi Zardes had in 2014. Gashi will be in a more natural position as a second forward, the same place he was the two time golden boot winner when he played in the super league. Adding a solid wing defender, something the Rapids struggled with since losing Marc Burch, will increase the shutout total. All things to look forward too next year.
Closing Fantasy Thoughts & 2018 Expectations
I always have high hopes for the Rapids at the start of the season. With these moves and an identity, you should too. We were all let down last year so I am cautiously optimistic. The Rapids have an abbreviated preseason because of CONCACAF Champions League. They qualified by being the Supporters Shield Runner up in 2016. The team is seen as underdogs and most people feel they have no reason to be there. They face off against TFC in the first round and I expect them to be tough against the defending MLS Cup champions.
For the regular season I expect a breakout from 4 players. Marlon Hairston will continue to impress and be a solid choice for fantasy, especially if he is listed as a defender. Stephan Aigner had a great season last year, after coming in during the summer transfer window. He will lead the team in assists and will be a good midfield option. Shkelzen Gashi will bounce back, he has come into camp in better shape and is playing in a more natural position. Finally the Rapids have a DP spot, the team has stated they wanted to add anther attacking option whether that is now or in the summer window a new striker will do wonders for the team.