Colorado Rapids General Manager and Executive Vice-President, Padraig Smith, recently spoke to MLS. Here's what Smith had to say in light of recent criticism of the club and the direction they're heading in.
“It's folly, really, to look at these deals in isolation. This is not the last deal we're going to make in this window. This is the first of what I certainly believe is going to be a very active window for us, and I think really what has to be done is it has to be judged in terms of the total package of what the overall situation looks like, what the roster looks like when we're finished making those moves.”
“I think when I look at the chances we're creating, I still think we can look at our overall attacking area and say, ‘Okay do we need to bring somebody else in that's going to give us another cutting edge in the attacking third?’ That is something that we're looking at.”
“I think long-term we're certainly going to look to bring in another center back to challenge, and we are also now are looking at bringing in an 8 to reinforce the midfield. So from my perspective, it's really about looking at the overall group and what we've got for this year – but also what we're planning for in next year as well.”
“We can buy players down, we've got a lot of flexibility,” Smith said about the DP situation. “We've built up a war chest over the past little while in terms of GAM as well.”
“We look to build here,” Smith stated. “We're not going out and necessarily signing a Carlos Vela or a [Raul] Ruidiaz or a [Lucas] Zelarayan or an [Emanuel] Reynoso, going into the top players. We're looking to develop them. We're looking to build them ourselves and to build from within so that we've got a core group of players that can compete."
“I think what is absolutely critical is that your senior players,
the core of your team, are playing at a high level so that you can integrate those young players in a thoughtful way. You've got to have that balance that's there. So we're absolutely looking at who the next crop are, bringing players through and improving". (Image: Colorado Rapids)
My take on Smith's comments
For some fans, it may seem like we've heard this before. Successful season. Sell the most valuable assets and start all over again. While I understand feeling this trauma I would soundly reject this thought process. It is simply too early to judge this summer transfer window. Results have not been good, 12th place in the West is not acceptable, no doubt about it. Reinforcements are coming, Smith has said as much, it's just how many impactful can new players be at this point that will determine how success. Developing young players is fantastic but the Rapids clearly need starters coming in. Players who can immediately contribute in a meaningful way.
There has been a litany of smaller issues, not one big thing, plaguing the Rapids this season. Almost the entire team have not played particularly well and need to step up their performances. This includes most of the core players in the squad minus Diego Rubio and William Yarbrough. Some of it is just downright bad luck. By the numbers, their -7.69 goals minus expected goals value is the second-worst in MLS while their 0.53 goals against minus expected goals against value is top-10 in MLS. Some of it has been injuries where Braian Galvan, Oliver Larraz and Aboubacar Keita are out for the season while Jack Price has missed several games. Some if it has been the turnover in the squad. In the past year, the club has shipped out Sam Vines, Kellyn Acosta, Cole Bassett, Dom Badji and Andre Shinyashiki. That is a lot of little things that really add up.
The most recent transfer of Mark-Anthony Kaye netted the club around $2 million in total assets. This rivals the record setting deal for Paul Arriola from DC United to FC Dallas. The Rapids acquired Ralph Priso from Toronto in the deal who is a promising player but also capable of contributing in the short term. Despite trading a highly valued player in Mark-Anthony Kaye, the Rapids got an absolute boatload in return. Priso plays defensive midfield, is a good passer but doesn't contribute much to goals/assists. A left footed player, Priso will cover ground and break up play in midfield. In my book, he's an upgrade to Collen Warner and could push for a starting role before you know it. To be clear, Priso was likely not intended as a direct replacement for MAK.
Looking ahead, as Smith stated, the Rapids are exploring three key positions: an attacker, a #8 and a centerback. I don't expect to see a centerback signing this window since the Rapids picked up Keita and Vallecilla this offseason although anything is possible. My read on Smith's comments are that the central midfield, a #8 player, and another attacker are paramount. The attack is clearly lacking and could use some help. I am guessing we won't see a target striker come in. Perhaps a winger with scoring prowess, a mobile striker or some type of hybrid attacker. Robin Fraser doesn't utilize a #10, a playmaking midfielder, so a wide player would seem more likely.
As usual, we can expect a heavier focus on domestic scouting as opposed to international. Transfer rumors are rare in MLS, we simply don't hear much until a deal is done. The only rumor, which could be pure speculation, is in LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing. He has publicly stated his unhappiness with his playing time in LA recently. On paper, Blessing could be a great partner to Jack Price as he's more of a defensive minded player with endless energy to close down space. Blessing has filled in at various positions in midfield and defense while at LAFC which adds to his value.
If the Rapids bring in two or three key players, as Smith indicated, we could be looking at a successful window. Developing a young player is fine but salvaging this season requires one or two starter caliber players in my opinion. Let's not judge everything too early, there's still time. Time left in this transfer window and time left in the season to fight for a playoff spot.
The Burgundy Boys host Orlando City
This Wednesday night the Rapids welcome Orlando City and former manager Oscar Pareja to town. Currently seven points behind the playoff line, the Rapids are winless in their last five games. The importance of taking all three points at home cannot be overstated. If the Rapids are to save this season, they really can't afford anything less than a win. It may seem obvious at this point but every facet of the game has to improve. Whoever steps on the field has to perform. The team is leaking goals in the back and failing to score enough in attack. Orlando is not a bad team but this could be the game to bounce back in.
Although Coach Fraser loves to rotate his squad, there aren't a ton of choices in this game. Expect to see a very similar squad from the last outing. The team's shape against RSL was effective and will likely be repeated. Technically they play in a 3-4-3 when attacking and a 4-1-4-1 when defending, the movement of Fraser's team is fluid and the key to success. Let's hope it's fluid out there on Wednesday and that Colorado starts to turn things around quickly.
July 13, 7:08pm MT Kickoff at DSG Park
Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City