REINFORCEMENTS HAVE ARRIVED

The Colorado Rapids Soccer Club announced two player acquisitions in the last 48 hours. It's fair to say that these are moves that definitively improve this team at the right time. Mark-Anthony Kaye and Dominque Badji are now officially Colorado Rapids players! I have a breakdown on both players, the transfer window in general and some intel from today's press conference with Head Coach Robin Fraser as well as Executive VP & General Manager Padraig Smith.

The Rapids announced a blockbuster trade on Tuesday, 7/27.21. The largest sum of allocation money the club has ever paid in a trade. Officially it's a $1 million in General Allocation Money (GAM) move and a 2022 international roster slot to LAFC for Mark-Anthony Kaye. Performance incentives could raise this figure as well. 10% transfer fee to go back to LAFC if the Rapids sell Kaye in the future. Currently on duty with the Canadian national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup he will join the squad shortly afterwards.


The Particulars

Transfermarkt value $6.60 million

Height 6-1

Weight 170 lbs

Birthdate: 12.2.1994 (26) Birthplace: Toronto, Canada Nationality: Canada


General Manager of the Colorado Rapids, Padraig Smith had this to share, “We’re thrilled to welcome Mark-Anthony to the club and reinforce our midfield with a player of his quality. He’s been one of the best central midfielders in the league over the last several years and has played a critical role in the success of the teams he’s been a part of. We look forward to seeing him integrate with our group as we enter the second half of the season and continue our push for a playoff spot”.

(Image: Associated Press)


Background

Kaye was raised by a single mother who emigrated from Jamaica to Toronto. He came up from through the Canadian collegiate system at York University. Then the Toronto FC academy in 2013 before a brief loan to USL team Wilmington Hammerheads. He didn’t have the easiest or most normal road to the MLS. It didn’t quite work out until he left Wilmington and headed to Kentucky.


Kaye began the ascent of his professional career at Louisville City FC of the United Soccer League Championship. In 2016 they reached the Eastern Conference Final before winning the 2017 USL Cup. Kaye would go on to play for LAFC for 4 years. During his breakout 2019 season he record 4 goals and 8 assists (both career highs) and an MLS All Star selection. Last season his played in half as many games but still added 3 goals and 4 assists. Today he’s easily considered one of the best central midfielders in the league.


How will Kaye fit into the squad?

With the current roster as it stands, there is space to fit Kaye in. But it also starts to look crowded if you have a healthy selection of Kellyn Acosta, Jack Price and Cole Bassett. Also in contention in any given week is Nicolas Benezet, Nicolas Mezquida, Collen Warner and if he returns from injury in 1-2 months Younes Namli. More long term you have Oliver Larraz, Philip Mayaka and any potentially new call ups from the academy. That is an embarrassment of riches. Quality in the defensive, box to box and playmaking roles. As exciting as this prospect is, we must consider the probability that at least one current player is leaving.


Does this mean we're selling players?

Nothing new to report but speculation is that Cole Bassett and Kellyn Acosta are both open to progressing their careers with a future move away from Colorado. Reported last week in The Athletic , Sam Vines is on the verge of a move to Belgium. Royal Antwerp to be exact. Where, by the way, he could potentially see immediate action (Jordan Lukaku completed his loan from Lazio) in the Jupiler League and Europa League. My best guess is that one player, either Bassett or Acosta, will be leaving during the summer transfer window. Another factor to consider in this whole saga is what happens to Younes Namli. After successful ankle surgery he could be playing again in 1-2 months. His loan deal concludes at the end of the season. If the Rapids can sign him for a bargain fee, I can see it happening. But if he’s negotiating above what the organization is willing to pay, he could walk. Very possible he stays within MLS but Europe isn’t out of the question either. Unfortunately, no way to know how this will shake out. Still something to keep in mind.


Hypothetically let’s say Acosta is sold. Kaye slots right into his spot very well. It’s a like for like and Kaye being left footed works out nicely too. If it’s Bassett that goes, then we have more of an attacking role to fill. Which we already have in the ranks potentially with Larraz, Mayaka on the younger side and Mezquida and Benezet on the veteran side. Either way I feel good about our depth. Worst case scenario we lose both Acosta and Bassett, then we have more work to do. We’d likely need to add another more defensive minded midfielder if this were to develop during the summer transfer window. The window officially closes on August 5th 2021.


Off Field

Kaye is a executive member of the MLS Players Association and the Black Players for Change. He’s a strong advocate for social justice and equality. He joins a great list of players who are part of the Black Players for Change (BPC) organization, including fellow Rapids players Auston Trusty, Lalas Abubakar, Kellyn Acosta, Jonathan Lewis and Collen Warner. Although Kaye is a natural leader on the field, he demonstrates the same traits off the field as he strives to leave a positive impact on the world.