After weeks of speculation, the Colorado Rapids landed a Designated Player on Monday, when they announced the signing of Albanian attacker Shkëlzen Gashi from Swiss club FC Basel.
Gashi brings a very impressive résumé to Colorado. The 27-year-old striker led the Swiss Super League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, helping Basel to the 2014-15 Super League title with 22 goals one year after recording 19 tallies for Grasshopper Club Zurich.
Gashi (how to pronounce his name), who was born in Switzerland and represented the country on the U-17, U-19 and U-21 levels before switching to Albania in 2013, has three goals in 11 appearances as a full international and was a major part of Albania’s successful Euro 2016 qualification campaign.
“Shkëlzen was our top attacking target this offseason,” Rapids technical director and VP of soccer operations Paul Bravo said in a statement released by the club. “He has proven to be a prolific goalscorer in his club’s domestic and European success. In addition he has been instrumental in his national team’s qualification for Euro 2016. We are delighted to sign him on a permanent transfer and look forward to seeing him in burgundy.”
Prior to Monday’s announcement, Gashi had spent his entire pro career in Switzerland, totaling 75 goals in 185 league appearances. He made his pro debut in 2006 with FC Zurich, and, following loan stints with FC Shaffhausen and AC Bellinzona, joined Neuchatel Xamax in 2009.
After tallying just one goal in 13 appearances with Neuchatel, Gashi moved down to the Swiss Challenge League with FC Aurau in 2011. It was there that his career took off, with the 6-foot forward scoring 17 goals in 26 appearances to help lift the club to the top flight in the 2011-12 season.
He moved to Grasshopper ahead of the 2012-13 season, leading the Super League with 19 goals in 32 games in 2013-14 and appearing a total of four times in UEFA Champions League and Europa League action. He was sent to Basel in the summer of 2014, scoring 22 goals and earning Axpo Player of the Year honors, given to the best player in the Swiss Super League, in his first year with the club and adding another three tallies in 10 appearances this season.
Gashi joins forward Kevin Doyle as one of two DP players on the Rapids’ roster. The club is currently in preseason camp at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.