Colorado Rapids close in on veteran European center back signing to plug leaky, shorthanded defense

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – If you assemble all the pieces, you might know the Colorado Rapids’ target to join the club as their newest defender. But for now, his identity remains a mystery.

Rapids technical director Paul Bravo and the club offered a variety of clues on Tuesday about the identity of the new player, with whom the team hopes to wrap up negotiations within the next few days.

Bravo said the center back is a European veteran – experience is likely being sought following captain Drew Moor’s season-ending ACL injury – who the club added has played for his national team and for a top-level side. The player is flying into Denver with the idea of finalizing the move in the next few days.

“We’ve been working on him for a couple of weeks now,” Bravo told reporters on Tuesday. “Sometimes these things go quickly, sometimes they go slow. But more importantly we feel that we’re close enough to where we’ve started to make plans to bring the player in to finalize negotiations.”

Bravo explained some of the qualities he saw that attracted him to the player.

“Strengths are experience, leadership qualities, he’s going to be very good in the air,” Bravo said of the player's physical tools. “He’s also going to be somebody who can command the whole group out on the field from that position. The experience is a big factor, too.”

There’s little doubt about the desperation level for a new face along the back line at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The lack of defensive cover for Colorado has been alarming: After starters Shane O’Neill (knee) and then Moor (knee) both went down with long-term injuries, the Rapids were forced to turn to push rookie midfielder Jared Watts to center back, with the club deeming fellow rookie Grant Van De Casteele and new acquisition Gale Agbossoumonde unready for action.

But it looks like help is coming soon for the reeling Rapids, losers of six in a row while allowing 16 goals (2.67 GAA) during the brutal stretch.

“[He’s] somebody who could potentially fit into our 18-month plan,” Bravo said of the new defender, adding that the signing is not a shorter-term or stop-gap solution. “We’ve identified this person as somebody who we think can come in and help with our young players right away.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for