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

Colorado solidifies first team depth during draft weekend

The Colorado Rapids traded away a fan favorite, but made some valuable acquisitions to strengthen their squad squad depth during the MLS SuperDraft. The weekend’s moves were the latest in a whirlwind of activity orchestrated by the Rapids front office ahead of the 2019 season.

Colorado Friday by announcing the successful signing of veteran midfielder, Benny Feilhaber. Half an hour later, the Rapids traded up to the fifth overall pick of the SuperDraft to select standout University of Denver striker, Andre Shinyashiki. Colorado finished the afternoon by drafting Marcello Borges (University of Michigan) and Jacob Hauser-Ramsey (University of Connecticut), but not before winger-turned-fullback Marlon Hairston was sent to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for $175,000 General Allocation Money.

Anthony Hudson expressed relief and pleasure after the completion of the second round of the draft, noting that the new additions “complement” the work done by General Manager Pádraig Smith, who has spearheaded Colorado’s activity in the MLS Primary Transfer Window.

“At the end of last season, we had so many scouting meetings, and we went through all the targets that we wanted,” Hudson explained, “Pádraig and our scouts have delivered.”

Colorado followed up Friday’s acquisitions by drafting Robbie Mertz with their seventy-sixth overall selection during the fourth round on Monday’s supplementary, conference-call draft.

In advance of Tuesday’s special announcement, it is necessary to critically evaluate the impact of these moves on Colorado’s ongoing roster rebuild and understand what role each player can serve in the first team.

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Colorado Rapids, In-Depth, Roster Updates

Another Year, Another Rapids Rebuild

To say the 2018 MLS Regular Season was a disappointment for the Colorado Rapids would be quite the understatement. Colorado endured two seven-game losing streaks, scored a league-low thirty-six goals, and finished third-to-last in the overall table with a measly thirty-one points. Despite brief glimpses of the “attacking football” pledged by the club’s front office, it was clear from two month into the season that the Rapids did not have the quality to compete on the same level as the top sides in Major League Soccer.

Throughout Colorado’s failure to make the playoffs in two consecutive seasons, General Manager Pádraig Smith has reiterated his promise of making Colorado a perennial postseason contender – an ideal initially manifested in his infamous 2017 editorial in the Denver Post. Now, one full year into the thus-far underwhelming Anthony Hudson project, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for the Rapids faithful.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

Michael Azira traded to Montreal Impact

The Colorado Rapids have traded midfielder Micheal Azira to the Montreal Impact “in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft,” according to an official announcement made by the club Wednesday afternoon.

The news breaks seven days after the Rapids loaned Azira to USL’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The Ugandan native made one appearance for the second division side (started in a 2-0 win against Oklahoma City Energy).

The midfielder never seemed capable of passing Jack Price and Danny Wilson on Colorado’s depth chart at his position. Azira only made five league appearances for the Rapids in the 2018 MLS season, tallying a mere 275 minutes of playing time.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

Michael Azira loaned to Colorado Springs Switchbacks F.C. [Updated]

Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids defensive midfielder Michael Azira will join Colorado Springs Switchbacks F.C. on loan.

Switchbacks head coach Steve Trittschuh revealed that the Ugandan native will be available for the club’s weekend match against Oklahoma City in an interview with XTRA Sports 1300’s Ryan Kaufman.

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Colorado Rapids, Roster Updates

Kip Colvey loaned to Colorado Springs Switchbacks F.C.

Soccer: Mexican National Team vs New Zealand

Defender Kip Colvey “has been loaned to Colorado Springs Switchbacks F.C.,” according to an announcement made by the Colorado Rapids on Friday.

Colvey, 24, joined Colorado via the MLS Waiver Draft after being released by San Jose Earthquakes at the end of the 2017 regular season. Colvey has only appeared in three games for the Rapids during their 2018 campaign and has struggled to find playing time at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

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