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Rapids Roster Updates

The News:

The Rapids exercised contract options on defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris.

They declined options for goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez and William Yarbrough, defenders Sebastian Anderson, Steven Beitashour, and Gustavo Vallecilla, as well as midfielders Oliver Larraz and Jack Price.

Additionally, forwards Luis Díaz and Diego Rubio are out of contract, while the loan of midfielder Danny Leyva is set to expire at the end of the year. The club remains in discussions with goalkeeper William Yarbrough, defender Sebastian Anderson and midfielder Oliver Larraz.

Current Squad (as of 11/28/23):

Goalkeepers (1): Marko Ilić

Defenders (11): Lalas Abubakar, Moïse Bombito, Daniel Chacón, Michael Edwards, Alex Gersbach, Andrew Gutman, Aboubacar Keita, Andreas Maxsø, Keegan Rosenberry, Jackson Travis, Danny Wilson

Midfielders (7): Max Alves, Cole Bassett, Braian Galván, Sam Nicholson, Connor Ronan, Ralph Priso, Sidnei Tavares

Forwards (5): Kévin Cabral, Calvin Harris, Jonathan Lewis, Rafael Navarro, Darren Yapi

(Image: Colorado Rapids)

My Breakdown:

We already knew that veterans Jack Price and Diego Rubio weren't returning. Heartbreaking as that is, it also means there's plenty of room for new players to come in and begin the rebuild. Both players were very productive in Burgundy and Blue but age and injuries caught up to them eventually. The club decided to move forward in a new direction starting in 2024. We'll see in the coming weeks what approach is taken to steer this club towards a brighter, more successful future. One thing is clear though, Colorado requires MLS caliber starting players to join the team and not simply youth projects or depth pieces. Considering the strength of the current squad, reinforcements in defense, midfield and attack are all possible. Very few players are what I'd consider "safe". Everyone on this team is playing for their future.

The highest priority positions are debatable, but a destroyer in midfield and an explosive winger joining the club this window would be massive. Since the club lost Kellyn Acosta and then Price, a top-level defensive midfielder has not shieled the back line like it used to. With a destroyer in the middle, this would free up creative players like Bassett and Ronan. Priso and Tavares clearly need to step up their game in 2024 after disappointing seasons. Neither player looks like an MLS caliber starter which means they will need to prove themselves on the field going forward in order to be successful. I'm not reading much into Max Alves being on the roster since the situation with his suspension is still pending. Have to imagine it's an administrative or legal thing and that he won't in fact be returning to the team anytime soon. That being said, if he's innocent and cleared to return, all the better!

Meanwhile the output from wingers has been abysmal. Navarro needs service in the middle although he has the ability to create opportunities on his own too. Still- he can't do it alone. A game changer on the wing would be a very welcomed addition to Colorado. The only winger who impressed last season was Calvin Harris but he's not a guaranteed starter either. Galvan had a frustrating return from injury but is still young and talented. It remains to be seen if Nicholson, Lewis or Cabral are relied upon as starting level players going into 2024. An argument can be made that despite a long list of decent names in the winger position, an upgrade is clearly needed.

A back four of Rosenberry, Maxsø, Bombito and Gutman is pretty strong on paper for MLS standards. Beyond the starters, the Rapids have young guys like Edwards, Chacón, Keita and Travis for depth. I don't think the team can rely on the veteran defenders Lalas Abubakar or Danny Wilson as regular starters any longer, as their regression continued last season. Anderson is a young asset who needs a long-term contract and is the only true right back after Rosenberry in the squad. If Anderson doesn't come back, a backup right back will surely be looked at considering Rosenberry's injuries and age.

In the net, the situation is much less clear. Is Ilić the #1 guy? If Yarbrough comes back, is Ilić the backup? Do they alternate? It can take time for any player to settle into a league, much less MLS, but Ilić didn't impress on the field yet. He is a capable shot stopper, has quick feet but is error prone. Whether that's because he is giving up rebounds, relying on punching the ball rather than catching or parrying, or just a pure mental mistake, he hasn't convinced fans yet. Keep in mind that the Serbian is only 25 years old and could absolutely take a leap in his second year. The question is, is that risk worth taking? Then you also have to consider Academy product Adam Beaudry and his future. Only 17 years old, he's performed at a high level through MLS Next Pro and the United States Youth National Team (USYNT). Following a breakout season in MLS Next Pro where he was a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year, he also competed in the CONCACAF U17 Championship for the USYNT. I'm not sure he's ready to be thrown into MLS action right away but he's certainly a piece to the puzzle, especially long term.

Designed Player Raphael Navarro is safely the starting striker next season. Darren Yapi is a direct backup but is also flexible enough to play on the wing or as a second striker. It's hard to see any reinforcements coming in the striker position unless it's a young, inexpensive option for the future. Regardless, this team desperately needs to start scoring goals at a much high clip moving forward.

(Image: Colorado Rapids)

With the hiring of Chris Armas as Head Coach of the Colorado Rapids, we can expect a high pressing team with a direct, transition offense. The good news here is that is essentially the same style the Rapids have been employing lately. Or at least that was the goal. The intention from the front office was to build a 433 attacking formation built on speed. Theoretically, some of the pieces are in place despite going into a rebuild year where the pressure is mounting for drastic change. After finishing last in the Western Conference, struggling on both sides of the ball, a huge step forward is desperately needed. We'll see how any new players that join Colorado fit into this style of play and how the team chemistry looks after turnover in the squad. More coverage to follow as the off-season continues and the roster develops.

Here's what to expect this off-season in terms of timing for transactions:

Dec 1- Club Deadline to Exercise Options

Dec 11- Transfer Window Opens

Dec 12- End of Year Waivers

Dec 13 Free Agency Opens

Dec 14- Re-Entry Process Stage 1

Dec 19- MLS SuperDraft 2024

Dec 21 - Re-Entry Process Stage 2

Thanks for reading! Follow Nick on X/Twitter at @nickholmberg11


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