Rapids “actively” searching for attacking Designated Player

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – After watching a midfielder lead his team in goals for a second consecutive season, perhaps Colorado Rapids technical director Paul Bravo has seen enough.

Bravo said this week that the Rapids are “actively” searching for a Designated Player, who would be the first DP in team history, and Bravo confirmed that the Rapids are seeking that player in an attacking position.

“We’ve all kind of talked long and hard about that,” Bravo told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s not something that we’re looking to skirt away from. The most important thing is we’re actively searching, and we have a couple of players on our discovery list that we’ve identified, actually players that we’ve been tracking for the better part of 18 months. It’s not like it’s a first time thing for us. We’re searching, and we’re actively searching.”

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The Rapids scored 44 goals in 2012 – fifth-most in the Western Conference and tied for 11th overall – but less than half of those goals came from strikers. About 20 goals, depending on exact tactical formations, came from players playing up top, with injury-bitten star forwards Omar Cummings and Conor Casey combining for only eight goals in 2012. That was far below preseason expectations, and those unflattering statistics are leading the Colorado front office to consider bringing in a DP on the young side, and one with an eye for goal.

“We’re not looking for this to be a retirement party for some player,” Bravo said. “We’re looking at players that are in the prime of their careers or young DPs. That’s important, because that’s the best fit on the field.”

Talk of a possible Designated Player is not new to the Rapids organization, although they haven’t signed one since the rule came into effect in 2007. Last offseason, the Rapids reportedly mulled it over as well, but those talks did not amount to a signing. But Bravo hinted that the Rapids may be looking a little harder – and eastward – this offseason.

“Those things will dictate themselves,” Bravo said when asked the odds of getting a deal done. “The difficult part with doing this in the offseason is the window in Europe, it’s only halfway through the season so we’ve got to be mindful of that. And the timing of it will be dictated by whether or not those players are available.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.