January 19th, 2022 will go down as a momuntal day in Rapids history. The news came thick and fast. I'll provide an update below on all business including yesterday's press conference. Players coming in, going out and what our future looks like. Buckle in, HERE WE GO!
In a somewhat rare sighting, General Manager and Executive Vice-President Padraig Smith faced the media. Some of the key takeaways were:
The club denies receiving any European bids for Kellyn Acosta
The club is currently pursuing mulitple attackers whether it's DP or TAM signings
Braian Galvan will likely move to a central, playmaking position in midfield
The Club hopes to keep Auston Trusty throughout the winter but will have to reevaluate if a good offer comes in
Multiple contract extensions offered to players which puts club in contention to compete for MLS Cup
CONCACAF Champions League is going to be taken seriously. We're chasing silverware baby!
Bienvenido Bryan Acosta!
Free agent midfielder Bryan Acosta has reached a deal with the Colorado Rapids. The contract details have not been released yet but it is a two year deal with club option for an additional season. This may not seem like a flashy deal to some fans but he offers plenty to get excited about. A fresh start can also mean a lot to a player and maybe that's exactly what Bryan needs. The Honduran played at FC Dallas since 2019 where he began as a DP but fell out of favor especially towards the end of the 2021 season. Digging into the advanced stats in his time in MLS, Acosta is an excellent passer with great vision. He may not be an elite tackler but his interceptions are. What this really means is we gain a midfielder who excells in the transition game. This can be one of the most important factors to a team's success, the ability to transition from defense to attack with precision and quickness. His biggest downfall is his overconfidence in shooting from distance.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
“We’re delighted to bring a player of Bryan’s quality to Colorado,” said Pádraig Smith, Colorado Rapids Executive VP & General Manager. “Bryan is a dynamic midfielder with experience within our league and at an international level. His power, technical play and ability on both sides of the ball will be an asset to our midfield. We look forward to welcoming him to our group ahead of the new season.”
Birthdate: November 24, 1993
Birthplace: La Ceiba, Honduras
Plethora of Re-signings
A total of four key players inked new deals with the club on Wednesday. All four players happen to be the heart and core of the team including:
Keegan Rosenberry 3 year extension with club option for an additional year
Mark-Anthony Kaye 4 year extension with club option for an additional year
Danny Wilson 2 year extension with club options in 2024 & 2025
Jack Price 2 year extension with club options in 2024 & 2025
Although previously announced it's been a busy window. So, as a recap here are the players that have left the Rapids this off-season so far:
Cole Bassett: 18th month loan with an option to buy with Feyenoord Rotterdam.
Kellyn Acosta: Traded in $1.1m in guaranteed GAM with $400k in additional incentives.
Kortne Ford: Signed as free agent with Sporting KC
Nice Mezquida and Jeremy Kelly are yet to re-sign with the Rapids or any other club. Their futures are something to keep an eye on. Smith did address Mezquida, saying that they are actively trying to bring him back into the team. Meanwhile the news has been quiet on Kelly and could indicate he's finding a new USL club or perhaps joing an MLS Next Pro squad. Cole Bassett's loan could result in a massive cash injection for the club should things go well. It's expected that any offer to purchase Bassett would eclipse the $2 million deal for Sam Vines. Needless to say, the club is in an excellent position moving forward.
What does it all mean?
The core of this Rapids team remains in tact. Re-signing our captain, central defender in a three at the back system, star international midfielder and veteran outside back/center back was great business. Despite losing Kellyn Acosta, we already have the replacement in a straight swap if you will in Mark-Anthony Kaye. Add in the new Hondruan midfielder Bryan Acosta for depth in the deeper midfiedlers roles and this allows Kaye to continue to enjoy the freedom in roaming forward. By moving midfielder Braian Galvan into a central role, the Argentine will be unleashed! Joining Galvan in the middle of the field in a creative role is Brazilian newcomer Max Alves. Although we lose two mainstays of the Rapids in recent years in Kellyn Acosta and Cole Bassett, the midfield still looks strong.
The backline remains in tact with minimal changes. If Trusty departs, it seems like the club has the long term replacement already on the books in Aboubacar Keita. Keita was picked up from the Columbus Crew this off-season. He's naturally left footed, quick and young. Spending time with Robin Fraser is only going to help his development.
Once again, the Rapids have depth throughout the squad. Competition in every position. It remains to be seen what will happen with all of the youngsters on the team this season in light of MLS Next Pro and Rapids 2. However, I do expect that many of the younger guys will see minutes for both the first team and Rapids 2. I will also have a full article diving deeper on the homegrown and new draftees coming out before the season starts.
Today we received confirmation that everyone wanted to hear. "We continue our quest for a No. 9" said Padraig Smith. I repeat, the club is pursuing options for a #9 striker. And not just one, the club is targeting two attackers. The glaring hole in the team needs to be filled and hopefully it's done quickly. Smith added that the club is looking into DP and TAM options. If the Rapids land a true target striker, we could see Diego Rubio go back into his second striker role. His best output in terms of goals, 11 total, was when Kei Kamara played as the target striker in 2019. Reprising this role could get the best out of the Chilean attacker. At the end of the day, the club has brought in reinforcements to fill the same spots vacated by outgoing players. Anything could happen but it seems they will stick with a similar approach going into 2022.
In terms of the formation, I expect the same strategy from Fraser. Consistent rotation and unpredictable changes. Call it a 5-3-2 or 3-4-2-1 or something entirely different, but I think we'll see a double pivot in midfield. We could even revert back to the formation first used under Fraser, the 4-2-3-1. Here's my read on the Rapids depth going into 2022 season with two different looks: