The Colorado Rapids have hardly been the most active team so far in the MLS offseason in terms of adding new players. That’s largely because head coach Gary Smith and his coaching staff have a very solid core of starters who were instrumental in lifting MLS Cup last season.
When all sectors of the field largely pick themselves from back to front, it is difficult to imagine new starters coming in and taking the place of well-established veterans.
Thus, most of the additions since the Rapids hoisted the Cup in Toronto have been part of the process of adding depth. On paper, only former Seattle Sounders wide midfielder Sanna Nyassi might have something to say about that.
Smith said he is still looking for one to two senior players to add to the roster in time for the March 19 home opener against Portland Timbers. One is an unidentified player currently performing in the top Greek league with previous experience in England.
Smith said he’d be open to adding an attacking central midfielder despite the problems inherent to making that kind of addition.
“Those players are difficult to come by, and normally you find they are expensive because of their creativity and their ability to win a game for you,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com.
Even if such a player were available at the right price, the question is where he would fit given the central partnership of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz. Would he replace one of them, or one of the corps of attack-minded wide players that includes Nyassi, Wells Thompson and incumbent starters Brian Mullan and Jamie Smith?
Smith suggested he's happy relying on what he has. The wide players can tuck inside to support the central midfielders and link up with a deeper lying Conor Casey, he said. Mastroeni and Larentowicz can add bite to the offense from deeper positions.
“The 4-4-2 is pretty much what we are looking at,” Smith said. “I think that’s the best shape for us. Jamie Smith and Brian Mullan can pick up good narrow positions, get forward and be creative.”
Scottish midfielder Jamie Smith could even find himself in a role just behind a front man like Casey, the coach added.
So, while the Rapids are open to adding new pieces, don’t expect a blockbuster move. The champs are happy where they’re at.