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11/23 5:00pm
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11/30 9:00pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Smith, struggling Rapids could be open to making moves

Gary Smith has always been very protective of his Colorado Rapids group and shown little public willingness this season to trade any of his players. But with results and some personnel moves not going as well as expected, the Rapids head coach is not ruling out possible transfer moves this summer.

“I think the vast majority of what we have is what I want,” Smith said this week. “Is there an opportunity to bring someone in, or to make room for someone else who could make a real impact? Possibly.”

Earlier this season, Smith was looking at shoring up the defensive side of his squad. The only publicly identified target was Martin John, a left back with Cardiff City, but there were also three other defenders he considered, two of whom with MLS experience.

The third target is currently playing in Greece and has significant experience in the English Championship.

The left back area remains an issue for the Rapids. So far this season, Anthony Wallace, Scott Palguta and Danny Earls have each played there, and traditional central defender Drew Moor has also been pushed out to left back at times.

Wallace needs more consistency defensively, Earls needs to gain experience with his decision-making and, while Palguta has done what he has been asked to do, Smith thinks he’s likely better suited for a role in the center.

“They’ve all done a very good job for us at different times,” Smith said. “But we haven’t got a [LA Galaxy defender] Todd Dunivant, who’s 30 years of age, been in the league for 10 years, been an international and is the first name on the sheet.”

Smith also mentioned FC Dallas defender Heath Pearce and former Rapids player Jordan Harvey of the Philadelphia Union as similar caliber players to LA’s Dunivant.

Another problem area in terms of depth is the midfield, where new recruits Sanna Nyassi and Joseph Nane aren’t performing quite up to expectations. Smith has described Nyassi’s play this season as “erratic” and has expected greater technical quality at times out of Nane.

“What I wanted and what I expected is that they fulfill what they are being asked to achieve,” Smith said. “I don’t think what we’ve seen out of Sanna reflects what he is about. For whatever reason, I’m not sure why. Whether he feels uncomfortable, whether the group is one he can actually gel with, those discussions are ongoing. We definitely have not seen the best of him.

“The same with [Nane],” Smith said. “He was terrific for 20 minutes in New York, then I bring him on [against Sporting Kansas City] and he pops his shoulder out.”

Other players have filled in admirably this season, however, including midfielder Wells Thompson and  the forward pairing of Quincy Amarikwa and Andre Akpan.

“Wells, for the majority of the time, has been great,” he said. “What more could you ask from an individual? As somebody that most would class as a squad player, he’s come in and done a great job. And probably the shining lights have been the two young forwards, Andre and Quincy.”