Colorado Rapids, In-Depth

A Winless March

Trends in Major League Soccer are typically difficult to identify. The league’s salary cap structure, as well as the playoff format, is designed to ensure a level of parity and competitiveness to prevent the same parties from consistently hoisting MLS Cup over and over again. Take a look southwest towards Carson and you will find a Galaxy team, once the league’s darling, still struggling to rise from its stage of mediocrity – Ibrahimovic notwithstanding. Turn north and be reminded of Toronto F.C., a side which ascended from the pit of despair to host MLS Cup twice, before returning to the postseason-less wasteland a year later.

While the rest of the league experiences their relative ups and downs, it is appearing ever more likely that the Colorado Rapids – three seasons away from that mythical Supporter’s Shield run – will continue languishing in the race for the Wooden Spoon.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

Rapids cut Gashi and acquire Green Card for Nicholson

The Colorado Rapids revealed Friday that the club has opted to waive Albanian Designated Player Shkëlzen Gashi. Additionally, Sam Nicholson appears to have acquired a Green Card during the off-season – a development first reported by the Endline Podcast Thursday morning.

Finalizing the two roster adjustments was necessary for Colorado to meet MLS’s domestic player restrictions for the 2019 regular season. Heading into preseason, the club had eight international players and only six spots to utilize.

A source familiar with the decision to waive Gashi’s contract acknowledged that the forward had not performed well enough in preseason to justify inclusion on the regular season roster. Gashi was not cut because Colorado has imminent plans to acquire another Designated Player (though this move does make a high-budget summer addition possible). Rather, the Albanian international simply failed to impress in training – leaving management no other option besides waiving the player.

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Colorado Rapids, In-Depth

2019 Season Preview: Rapids Positional Power Rankings

The long preseason grind for the Colorado Rapids has reached its inevitable conclusion: the start of the regular season. The objective for the organization? To return to the promised land of MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016.

After a flurry of offseason activity, a noticeable level of hype is slowly starting to build around the Rocky Mountain side. Some of the league’s own media outlets are actually acknowledging Colorado’s existence for once and preseason results have led to a measured sense of optimism emanating from the coaching staff.

The Rapids’ roster has gone through its fair share of reconstruction over the past two years, leaving Colorado with only four players who were part of the team’s mythical Supporter’s Shield run in 2016 and quite a few unknowns to boot. Suffice to say, there are a lot of new faces in Burgundy for 2019 – here is how they stack up against one another in every position of Anthony Hudson’s 4-4-2-Diamond.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

With two internationals too many, the Rapids are not yet roster compliant

One of the seemingly-never-ending quirks of the MLS offseason is the pseudo-drama that arises from front offices desperately attempting to make their rosters compliant in advance of their club’s season openers. While Colorado does not face the problem of moving a fourth designated player that nobody wants, the Rapids still have some work to do in order to fulfill the arduous regulations enforced on MLS clubs.

A month from their season opener, the Colorado Rapids appear to be in need of two additional international slots.

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Colorado Rapids, Preseason

Colorado’s depth chart takes shape in first preseason match

The Colorado Rapids concluded their first stage of their preseason training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida with a 1-0 loss to MLS expansion side F.C. Cincinnati. Forrest Lasso – one of several Cincinnati players from the club’s USL era – scored the match-winning goal off of a corner in the fifty-ninth minute.

The result, like most preseason games, is largely irrelevant. Kendall Waston was notably shown red in the first half for a rough challenge, but teams in preseason typically allow ejected players to be replaced so the match remains even. Neither team was at full fitness and both sides effectively played a different squad in each half. Furthermore, the match was not aired and no statistics have been made publicly available – so speculating about individual performances is largely a futile effort.

However, the scrimmage did give a glimpse into how Head Coach Anthony Hudson views Colorado’s depth after a week and a half of preseason training. With nine players on trial at the club and four roster spots available, February is prime time for the Rapids coaching staff to evaluate new talent.

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Colorado Rapids, Preseason

Three things to watch for in Colorado’s preseason

The Colorado Rapids first team reported for preseason training Monday morning, forty days ahead of their regular season opener against the Portland Timbers. The second year of the Anthony Hudson project in Colorado has officially begun, and Rapids supporters find themselves relatively optimistic.

A busy Primary Transfer Window has brought MLS veterans, rising stars, and academy standouts to the Rocky Mountains. However, with two nasty years in the rear view mirror, Colorado still has quite a bit of work to accomplish in order to reach their goal of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2019.

Colorado’s preseason schedule will first take the squad to Bradenton, Florida for a week of training and a match against MLS expansion side F.C. Cincinnati. The team will then travel to Chula Vista, California for matches against Ventura County Fusion, the University of San Diego, and Toronto F.C., before closing out the month of February with a pair of away friendlies against Las Vegas Lights F.C. and the L.A. Galaxy.

With quite a few fresh faces in the squad, preseason serves as a chance for the Rapids’ coaching staff to evaluate and observe the new talent directly. Practically speaking, viewers should expect significant rotation, a large amount of minutes given to new players, and experimental lineup choices. Without further ado, here are three things to keep your eye on ahead of the 2019 season.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

Joining Colorado a “Dream come true” for Hundley, Raben

Following a hectic SuperDraft weekend that added new blood to the Rapids’ roster ahead of their 2019 campaign, the Rapids held a special event Tuesday to announce the signing of two homegrown players: Matt Hundley and Sam Raben. The Colorado natives join Dillon Serna, Kortne Ford, Cole Bassett, and Sam Vines as Rapids academy alumni on contract with the first team.

“I’m feeling ecstatic,” Hundley beamed following the press conference, “It’s a dream come true. Being in my hometown to start my professional career is incredible.”

Raben was similarly enthusiastic about the next step in his career. “The more and more I do with the team, the more I get excited,” the versatile defender explained, I’ve been doing some pre-preseason workouts with the strength coach, Chad [Kolarcik], and it’s just really cool to see all the players – all the players I looked up to – come in and do the same things as me. It’s surreal.”

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