As I sit in my office typing this out, waiting for the snow to fall here in Colorado, I couldn't be more excited. Not only is the snow exciting but #Rapids96 fans woke up to a flurry of transfer news this Friday. It is never easy to see star players leave your club but there's reason to rejoice. The Rapids are still very strong in midfield with the added luxury of roster flexibility . Doesn't hurt that we are now sitting on a nice pile of cash with the prospect of bringing in at least one new signing this window.
After shopping around for quite some time, the Rapids have officially sold Kellyn Acosta to LAFC for $1.1 million plus $400,000 in performance incentives. Acosta was very close to joining the New England Revolution but ultimately the Rapids were asking too high a price. Acosta joined the Rapids midway through the 2018 season scoring seven goals and eight assits. As LAFC look to rebuild, there is no doubt that Kellyn Acosta will be the face of that rebuild. They are an ambitious club who are likely to bring in more talent this window and return to their winning ways. Anecdotally, Acosta may enjoy the move for the fashion and glamour that is the city of Los Angeles as well. As we look back, his time in Colorado was assurdely a positive one. His physicality in midfield coupled with his versatilty to play either wingback role will certainly be missed. He was a fan favorite and performed especially well the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see if he locks down a #6 role, or if they will allow more creativity by putting him in a #8 role. Regardless, they have a domestic player in his prime looking to secure a spot at the 2022 World Cup later this year.
First reported out of the Netherlands, Cole Bassett is departing Colorado as well. He has agreed to an 18 month loan with an option to buy. Meaning he has to prove himself and if he does, the Rapids retain a sell on fee although those exact details haven't been reported yet. For the Littleton, Colorado native, a move to Europe has always been his dream. Training and playing in the Eredivisie is an ideal fit. A stepping stone perhaps if he really excells. Once finalized, this would be the second major transfer of a homegrown player to Europe. This also means the club has established themselves in places like Belgium, Netherlands, Argentina and Brazil in the past two seasons.
It's hard to understate the stature of the club Cole is moving to. Feyenoord are one of the biggest clubs in the Netherlands with a rich history. The club has won 15 domestic league titles, 13 domestic cups and 4 time Johan Cruff Shield winners. The home stadium, Di Kiup, can fit nearly 50,000 people. Feyenoord was formed in 1908 and is considered part of the "big three" in the Netherlands alongside Ajax and PSV Eindhoven. Former players at the club include Johan Cryuff, Gio von Bronckhorst, Dirk Kuyt, Henrik Larsson, Roy Makaay, Robin Van Persie, Ronald Koeman and Ruud Gullit. They have a great tradition in not only developing young players but midfielders in particular.
These potential sales mean that the Rapids are in an excellent position when it comes to roster flexibility. Losing key players is never easy. It is however made easier when you have one of the best coaches in the league. And not just one of the best, but one of the very best at developing young players.
With the acquisition of Keita at centerback, we could see Auston Trusty depart as well. It's a natural replacement as both players are left footed centerbacks. Fraser being a former central defender, I expect Keita to further develop his game. The rumors of a Trusty to Europe move haven't materialized just yet. It's still a possibility folks, so brace yourselves!
There is a strong reason to believe that because of these sales there is space for a big splash in the market. A Designated Player is expected to sign in the near future. There are currently zero DP's on the squad. It's even possible we buy down a DP contract because the club is in such a good position financially with their roster (accumulation of GAM allows clubs to "buy down" their salary budget charge). The most obvious target has to be a true #9 striker. While the team has coped without a DP and without a striker scoring double digit goals (Rapids have had 1 player score 10+ goals in 1 out of the last 7 seasons. Kamara and Rubio had 10+ in 2019). Padraig Smith and the Rapids front office are unrivaled in intraleague transfers. Therefore it's entirely within reason that a striker already in MLS is traded for. MLS experience goes a long way and is highly valued. At the same time, is entirely within reason to see a striker come in from abroad. Nothing concrete to report at the time of writing in terms of who is being targeted.
Otherwise the Rapids could look to strengthen their attacking midfield role. Max Alves looks to be the clear starter now with Galvan, Larraz, Kaye or Shinyashiki as possible alternatives. Otherwise they have a mix of youth and veterans in nearly every position. Every position has lock down starters when healthy and looks strong on paper.
There have been no recent announcements from the club since acquiring the rights in the Re-Entry draft to Honduran midfielder, Bryan Acosta. There is a possibility he reaches a deal with the Rapids after losing both Kellyn Acosta and Cole Bassett. Bryan Acosta fills more of a #6/#8 role as he is not a playmaker. He could add depth at midfield where we suddenly need another body or two.
Depth Chart in 2022
Going into next season, here's how I see the depth of the squad shaping up. Obvisouly there is still a strong possibility of further transfer activity and changes. It's also hard to predict what the Rapids 2 squad will look like and how often players will float back and forth. Kaye essentially fills the Acosta hole in midfield, while Max steps into the creative role in midfield. This means a starting trio of Price, Kaye and Max is the most likley. For the time being, the remainder of the roster essentially remains the same. For now, this is how I see our depth:
Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay safe out there soccer fans!