SBI MLS Team Previews: Colorado Rapids

Rapids-logo

By TRAVIS CLARK

For the Colorado Rapids, the task at hand is simple: qualify for the postseason. 2006 was the last time the club made the postseason, and coach Gary Smith would love nothing more than to end the drought.

Since taking over in 2008, Smith has now had enough time to shape the roster to his liking. The club came up short on the last day of 2009, and only a few minor moves came as a result — the biggest involving a trade with the New England Revolution that brought Wells Thompson and Jeff Larentowicz to Colorado.

Success in 2010 will be determined by how a number of key players bounce back from serious injuries and offseason surgeries, and if Conor Casey and Omar Cummings can once again carry the offensive load.

Here's a look at the 2010 Colorado Rapids:

2010 COLORADO RAPIDS

Players to Watch- Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Colin Clark, Pablo Mastroeni, Andre Akpan

Key Arrivals - Jeff Larentowicz, Ian Joyce, Oscar Murillo, Wells Thompson, Ross LaBaeux, Andre Akpan

Key Departures – Cory Gibbs, Preston Burpo, Jordan Harvey, Jacob Peterson, Ty Harden

Projected Lineup (New starters in bold)

—————–Omar Cummings—–Conor Casey———————

Colin Clark————————————————-Jamie Smith

————Jeff Larentowicz——Pablo Mastroeni——————-

Danny Earls——Drew Moor–Julien Baudet——-Kosuke Kimura

—————————–Matt Pickens——————————–

Big Question - Can the Rapids heal quickly and regain form? Several key players for the Rapids — Colin Clark, Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni — are in the midst of recovery from offseason surgery or injury.

Clark and Smith both suffered season-ending injuries in 2009, while new acquisition Larentowicz joined Mastoeni on the treatment table after undergoing surgery during the break.

Depending on who is healthy for opening day will certainly shape the lineup. Wells Thompson and Mehdi Ballouchy provide depth on the flanks in case either Clark or Smith struggle in their return.

X-Factor – Much of the offensive burden will fall on the two projected starting forwards. Cummings and Casey teamed well together last year, combining for 24 goals and 13 assists (12 by the Jamaican).

If the two can recapture their form from last year — and improve on it — Colorado will remain in contention. Disaster could strike if either suffers a serious injury, and there's potential for Casey to miss a solid amount of time through duty with the U.S. team.

Andre Akpan could fill in for either of the two, but he's unproven at an MLS level and questions about his work ethic and attitude meant he dropped into the second round on draft day. He'll more than likely get a chance to show what he can do in 2010.

Outlook – Keeping Casey and Cummings healthy is most important to Colorado's success. The Rapids are built to cope with injuries in the middle of the park, but are thin once you got past the two starters up front.

Bottom line for the Rapids, is if Casey and Cummings are fit and in form, Colorado is a playoff contender. They'll have to do something special in 2010 to prove that they are anything more than that, however.

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27 Responses to SBI MLS Team Previews: Colorado Rapids

  1. over there says:

    PLEAAAAAAAASSSSSSSEEEEEEEEE just once, preview a post before publishing it. Never once on SBI have a seen a projected starting lineup that wasn’t completely screwed up and too big for the margins.

    (SBI-Did it ever dawn on you that it was YOUR computer that was the problem? The lineups look fine over here.)

  2. Rory says:

    I heard the Rapids cut Pat Noonan this morning, a causulty of not wanting to garantee his contract as per the new CBA.

  3. sread says:

    As an RSL man, I’m naturally inclined to hate this team’s guts…but the truth is they look way better this year. I think we finish ahead of them in the long run, but man I see them giving a lot of teams trouble. Cummings is a freak up top.

  4. herzog says:

    What happened to Cory Gibbs?

  5. I says:

    Ironically, if that is true, it seems that veteran 2 players were already cut due to the new CBA that is meant to “protect” the veterans. It might be something that the players union did not consider. With guarantees of contracts on veterans and high salaries, what we may see is a much younger league overall in the future, as teams front offices look for the best way to “work” with the new CBA.

  6. Charles says:

    You must think that your team is way better too,

    because SL finished the regular season with the same amount of points as Colorado.

    I don’t think that Colorado had the talent to finish the season the way Salt Lake did, but MLS is tight enough that an improved Colorado could leave SL (or other teams) leaving the season early this year.

  7. CSD says:

    Are you saying without new CBA guaranteed contract rules it would have been good idea to keep a 29 year old forward that has scored 3 goals in the last 2 seasons in the league on their roster?

  8. Bonji says:

    Gibbs went to NE in the trade for Larentowicz and Thompson. Smith was starting last year before his injury so probably shouldn’t be bold. Moor started most games after his arrival from Dallas.

  9. green says:

    Same over here. . .
    unless I shrink the text size waaayyyy waaayyyy down — as in too small to read — the lineups look all jumbled.
    Isn’t the center column 410 pixels wide for all regardless of computer being used. Last time I checked a pixel is a pixel is a pixel.

  10. N-Whit says:

    Looks fine on my computer, Ives.

  11. green says:

    Come to think of it, could it be a browser issue?

  12. I says:

    looks fine on my computer

  13. MM says:

    Noonan would have probably been cut even if his contract was not guaranteed. He was a bust in Colorado.

  14. Rory says:

    I’d say an experienced back up forward is kind of useful when you traded away your other back up forward. As is, if Casey makes the World Cup Squad or he or Cummings gets hurt then it’s the rookie Akpan who has to start. Noonan was brought in for cover last year and nothing has changed up front for Colorado except they lost Peterson and added the rookie.

  15. Rory says:

    This will be interesting. We can see if Colorado makes the playoffs by not making too many big moves and keeping a core together as opposed to the actions of DC and KC who blew up their unit in a bid for the playoffs. (Although to be fair, DC really only lost Emilio and some guys to retirement, right?).

  16. bryan says:

    looks fine on mine

  17. Allen says:

    Exactly….. only under the old system they could’ve kept Noonan around as cover until they found someone to bring in come June without having to pay his whole salary.

    One other one, can we use the word “key” as it’s defined? Not all additions and subtractions on the roster were key. Harden was in no way shape or form key loss nor someone like Ian Joyce a “key” addition, an unproven pup of a GK that has everyone wondering if he’s good enough to be a backup let alone starter.

  18. scott47a says:

    Outsider’s take:

    Ives is right on this one. If Casey and Cummings can make things happen with the “empty bucket” of two defensive-minded mids right behind then, the Colorado will be fine.

    But if they don’t there isn’t any backup plan that I can see.

    I doubt they win MLS Cup, but the playoffs sure seem doable, after all this is MLS.

  19. K-Town says:

    PLEAAAAAAAAAASSSSEEEEEEEEEEE just once, think before you post. Actually, think twice, before you make yourself look like a fool.

  20. Ecualung says:

    OMG, two of the midfielders names are listed on one side! I couldn’t possibly figure out what Ives was trying to say! This is so confusing!

  21. Boulder Rapidman says:

    You think it was the CBA?

    I bet that was part of it, but the roster needed to be cut down. When I made my predictions, Dalby and Noonan were up there. Right after Facundo Diz.

    With Shunk out for injury… The only backup we have is Akpan. I just hope he’s shaped up enough to the point where he’s ready to get in there and give it all he’s got. He was BRILLIANT for Harvard.

  22. Boulder Rapidman says:

    Around these parts, we don’t use “RSL” and “Man” in the same sentence. But we do use “Rapid” and “Man” in the same word.

    Sorry, but maybe when you guys in Utah start brewing grown-up beer, you can come hang.

    Believe me, it sure comes in handy when your team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006.

    ;-)

  23. inkedAG says:

    Post of the year!!

  24. MM says:

    Noonan’s experience now includes 3 failed stops in a row. Norway, Columbus, and now Colorado. He wasn’t working out and had lost any trade value. I’m guessing the Rapids held on to him as long as they did in hopes they might be able to trade him. Noonan now has too prove that he wasn’t a product of Steve Nicol’s system or that just hasn’t lost it. I thought Noonan was a good pick up for the Rapids last year, but he just seemed lost in the chances he got. The deal for him turned out to be a big oops.

  25. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Hmmmm….empty bucket midfield and Connor Casey up top. Wait, is Bob Bradley coaching the Rapids now? ;)

  26. GY says:

    Start Ciaran O’Brian. He’s bought his time and needs to get on the field!!!

  27. Boulder Rapidman says:

    YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!

    :-)