It’s hard to envisage anyone unsettling one of the best forward partnerships in the league, but with the Rapids scheduled to play more games in 2011, Gary Smith knows he is going to need a lot of support up top.
And, with speculation swirling around the future of Omar Cummings, it might be that the feared Cummings and Conor Casey partnership, which was so crucial in securing MLS Cup for the Rapids, may not exist next year.
On Wednesday it was reported that Estudiantes Tecos are interested in signing Cummings. This follows the approach of another Mexican club, Necaxa, for Cummings earlier this year.
Even if Casey and Cummings are kept together, they can’t play every game in what will be at least a 44-game season. Let's not forget potential injuries and international call-ups for both players.
So who does Smith have to back up his prized forward tandem?
[inline_node:323947]With Macoumba Kandji out for approximately eight months following the cruciate ligament injury suffered as he helped score the winning goal in MLS Cup, Smith says he may make a move for another forward in the offseason. The Rapids have been linked with veteran Juan Pablo Angel, but Smith said, as of now, he isn’t sure if this is a real possibility.
Other backups include Quincy Amarikwa and Andre Akpan, who will both be looking to state their case every opportunity they get. They are the clear heir apparents to Casey and Cummings now that Ross Schunk, injured all of 2010, has been waived.
Amarikwa, signed from San Jose early in the 2010 season, scored one goal in 14 MLS appearances this year. Akpan, a rookie out of Harvard, played just 13 minutes in a substitute appearance against Chivas on Sept. 4.
“These are two young guys that deserve an opportunity to show what they are about,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “I think, particularly with Quincy, he has to show what he is about, and is he going to find a way to score 10 goals?”
Smith is currently in his native UK looking at players who could boost the Rapids’ roster.