Here we go again! Another off season, time for hope and optimism for every club. And for a team that has been around since the beginning like the Rapids the off season tends to be more of a drag. The last two seasons have been hurtful for the Rapids fans. Enduring some of the worst showings in team history, losing in blow out fashion to their rivals in Salt Lake and dealing with coaching changes, failed player acquisitions and having spent two DP’s on older players who are not performing. On top off all the failures in 2017 and 18 the Rapids fans have had to deal with those ugly yellow kits that are an embarrassment to the team.
Fear not for the tides in the mile-high city are changing. This season the front office for Colorado has put the onus on proven and promising MLS talent opposed to getting thirty-year-old dudes from the English second division, who have only score like 10 goals in their career expecting them to fix the goal problems in town. The team has felt the pressure from the fans, expansion teams and older players like Tim Howard looking to not get embarrassed in his farewell tour. Every year I am filled with this optimism that is seen by most as idiotic and insane, but I swear this year will be different… right?
Tactics & Key Players
The Rapids have been transparent throughout this process of player acquisition and departures as well as tactics this off season. The team is going to play the diamond in a 4-4-2, it will probably be a tight diamond focusing on control of possession in the mid field and shuffling the ball out wide to the wing backs. Doing this will allow crosses to pour into the box in hopes that Kei Kamara will be able to hit home most of the chances. The team will still have a direct attacking presence with Diego Rubio, Nicolas Mazquida and Andre Shinyashiki, people in this part of the country have real high hopes for. The ball is going to have to be moved quickly from side to side to loosen the defenses and allow the newly acquired attacking talent to shine.
Defenders: Going with the 4-4-2 the back line will most likely be Deklan Wynne, Tommy Smith, one of three options next to him; Kortne Ford, Danny Wilson or Axel Sjoberg and on the other wing Keegan Rosenberry. The Rapids have a few more options with Sam Vines, a home grown who can play left back and Sam Raben who will probably get moved to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. If you believe the rumors there was a possibility of Kofi Opare joining the bunch, but he himself shot down those talks. Yet, the other day he was seen wearing the number 3 in some training sessions and riding in a golf cart with Kamara so he might make his way into the mix pending contract talks.
The Diamond Midfield: the main D-mid player is going to be Jack Price he will play the 6 and probably be backed up by Nana Boateng after that you have your shuttlers and in Kellyn Acosta, Cole Bassett, and Benny Feilhaber. To start the season Nicolas Mezquida will probably play the 10 roll but there is some more competition and room to move things around with the likes for Dillon Serna, Johan Bloomberg, Sam Nicholson, and Shkelzen Gashi in the mix. My guess is that Basset will be a great value play after the first 3 weeks of the season after he gets some more playing time.
Forwards: The starters are Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio but the Rapids have young talent with Niki Jackson in his second year, Matt Hundley and Andre Shinyashiki in their rookie seasons. Shinyashiki will get some playing time late in games and will look to make an impact in his limited minutes. But for fantasy play the only options are Rubio and Kei.
No longer are the yellow jerseys so that’s great, the new look Rapids are here to score goals and make noise.
Taking off my burgundy colored glasses here for a second, there is no way I am touching this team for the first 3-4 weeks. They are newly constructed on the attacking side of the ball and have a couch that has never really won on any level so there is a ton of risk. They do have proven goal scorers in Kei and Rubio but the team doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to service goal scoring. They are a wait and show me team. My guess is that both attacking pieces are going to be middle of the pack cost wise to start the year, but you’re going to get better value all over the field. I do believe Tim is going to have a good year, trying to show out for his last season but he will not be a top goalkeeper and will be on the high end of cost.
This being said, I will probably forget I wrote this paragraph in a week and start Kamara, Rubio and Feilhaber week one.