2016 Season Guide - COL

Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids | 2016 Team Guide - COL



  • MLS CUP: 2010


2016 Storylines

The Colorado Rapids’ total of 33 goals in 34 games in 2015 simply wasn’t good enough, and the sentiment echoed true throughout the organization.

In an end of season interview, Rapids technical director Paul Bravo called the offense "one dimensional" and making it multifaceted appears to have been the priority for the Rapids’ front office this offseason.

Colorado’s moves have included bringing in Marco Pappa from the Seattle Sounders via trade, as well as the signing of 27-year-old Swiss-Albanian forward Shkelzen Gashi as the team’s newest Designated Player. The team also addressed its offensive woes from a coaching perspective, bringing in John Spencer as an offensive-minded assistant coach to Pablo Mastroeni.

These moves should certainly help upgrade Colorado’s attack, but they also come with caveats.

Colorado Rapids | 2016 Team Guide - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Gashi-Scarf.jpg

Shkëlzen Gashi

Pappa may well thrive playing in his preferred No. 10 role for Colorado, but his debut could come later than originally anticipated. The Guatemalan international has missed significant time training with Colorado this preseason due to an injury he sustained during an offseason altercation with his then-girlfriend.

The signing of Gashi could prove to be the sneaky-good offseason move of the MLS offseason, but the young forward remains an unproven commodity in MLS. European players coming to MLS often take time to adjust the challenges of altitude, climate and travel. How Gashi is able to deal with these could determine whether or not he can be the next Sebastian Giovinco.

Spencer has been well received in his return to the Rapids, but don’t expect him to carry the magic flute in fixing the team’s attack, either. As head coach of the Portland Timbers, Spencer’s side managed only 34 goals in as many games in 2012.

Spencer already has one thing right however, and it’s that a real answer to the Rapids’ attacking woes may lie within the team’s individual pieces. After disappointing campaigns last season, auxiliary parts like Luis Solignac, Dillon Powers, Dominique Badji and Dillon Serna will each need to live up to expectations and improve their scoring outputs in order for Colorado to regain competitiveness in 2016.

Colorado Rapids | 2016 Team Guide - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Colorado.png

Armchair Analyst's Take

Let’s tick off the list of things the Rapids did this offseason that I like:

  • Brought in a DP attacker who should help address their biggest need (goals!)
  • Committed to moving Powers deeper, playing him in his natural midfield spot
  • Traded for a young fullback (Eric Miller) who, at the very least, should provide depth
  • They picked up youth on the wing, in central midfield, and the backline

That’s really not bad. Now, the way they went about it was muddled, undirected and frustrating to try to follow, and I still have my reservations about the impending Tim Howard signing. But yeah… they’re a better team than they were in 2015. I don’t think they’ll compete for any titles, but they’ll hang around in the playoff race and be a hell of a tough out at home.

That’s progress, even if it’s come after two straight years of regression. The core isn’t as young or exciting as what they had in 2013, but at least it’s a core, and at least you can build around that.

It’s a start.

Key Offseason Transactions

Shkelzen Gashi<br> Marco Pappa<br><a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/mekeil-williams">Mekeil Williams</a><br><a class="small" href="//www.mlssoccer.com/topic/transactions">All transactions</a>
Clint Irwin<br> Juan Ramirez<br> Gabriel Torres

Player to Watch: Marco Pappa

The Guatemalan playmaker could be key in solving the puzzle that has been Colorado's misfiring attack. Once he hits the field, look for his cultured left foot to both create some of the opportunities Colorado sorely lacked last year and provide a flashy finishing touch. (He's also got a decent right boot.)

Projected Lineup:

MacMath; Miller - St. Ledger - Burling - Williams; Cronin - Powers; Solignac - Pappa - Gashi; K. Doyle

Fantasy Soccer

Gashi warrants consideration at $9.0m given his impressive strike rate with FC Basel (27 goals in 43 appearances). Look for both Pappa and Kevin Doyle to see a boost in fantasy point output with Gashi the focal point.