COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The MLS international transfer window closed on Sunday and, barring any last minute announcements, it looks as though the Colorado Rapids will remain inactive on that front.
The Rapids were giving trials to two England-based players in recent weeks, but neither is currently with the team. Ben Gill — a former Arsenal youth player whom head coach Gary Smith knew while both were involved with Watford FC — and former Huddersfield Town stalwart Andy Holdsworth both played in the Rapids' 1-0 Reserve League defeat at Sporting Kansas City.
“Andy didn’t do himself any injustice at all,” Smith said. “I thought he played well down in [Kansas City], but he’s just not quite what I’m after as a fullback.”
Smith also said he would do his best to give Gill an opportunity with other MLS clubs.
Both players can operate as defenders or midfielders and this seems to be the area Smith most wants to strengthen. The team faces a barrage of games to conclude the season and must deal with injuries absences, such as Anthony Wallace. Defenders Drew Moor and Kosuke Kimura have barely missed a minute this season and there will be no letup in coming weeks.
The Rapids have also been trialing local player Sterling Copeland, a forward with the semi-pro Real Colorado Foxes and a standout at Oral Roberts University. However, Smith is looking for someone more experienced to fill the one remaining slot on the roster and he is looking more at the defensive side.
Earlier this season, Smith made it clear he was chasing a defender with substantial experience playing in the English Championship.
“We’ve had some issues in that left back spot through injuries for a good period of time, and losing Anthony is another bit of a body blow because what I would like to do is release Drew into the middle again, to offer some time out and rest to the guys that are playing in there,” he said. “So if I can add a left back, great. If not, maybe a center back, or right back — Kosuke’s had an awful lot of work. But we’ll see, I’m open to pretty much anything really. As long as the body can help us in the run-in.”
Kimura hopes for international call
Kimura was reportedly singing the Japanese national anthem on the Rapids bus after their victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
“He’s got a terrible voice and nobody understands what he is saying,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com.
The defender was hoping to be singing his country’s anthem while wearing a national team shirt this month, but nothing has come yet of the Japanese scouts watching him in the past few weeks.
Kimura revealed last month that he was on the radar of the Samurai Blue and at the time there was a possibility he would be called up for last week’s international against South Korea. He faces very stiff competition, though, with 23-year old Atsuto Uchida of Bundesliga side Schalke 04 the incumbent at right back.
Kimura said Japan's scouts have told him he needs to be making more assists and scoring more.
“Uchida — he’s a little younger than me, he will be the guy,” Kimura told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s not explosive, but he’s been out there since U-15. It’s tough to compete against that. They see my potential and that is up there, no doubt, but they want to see more. I have to be more consistent. It’s a very tough challenge.”
Kimura said he was happy to be on the national team’s radar but that it remains a challenge as scouts rely heavily on talent playing in Europe.
“I feel like I am creating a flow for the team, providing energy,” he said. “To me, I’m doing well. I’ve been creating chances and shutting down anyone I’m playing against. It’s not negative, I just need to keep doing it.”