The Colorado Rapids find themselves with a lot to be proud of after their last-ditch effort to make it into the postseason on Decision Day. The team has not one but two clinical finishers in Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio, two dynamic wingers in Sam Nicholson and Jonathan Lewis, Rookie of the Year Andre Shinyashiki, a solid midfield partnership of Kellyn Acosta and Jack Price, and fullbacks who can get up and down the wing in Keegan Rosenberry and Sam Vines. The biggest glaring issue for the Rapids is the situation at center back and goalkeeper. There also isn’t much to write about the team’s depth options. As of today, Lalas Abubakar has not completed a move and the option year of Tommy Smith’s contract has not been picked up (Though, contract negotiations have begun). With Kortne Ford’s health still unclear, the uncertainty of Danny Wilson’s playing ability, and the lack of options at center back, the Rapids have a huge hole in the back line to fix.
Columbus sources sure seem intent on ensuring that the Colorado Rapids overpay for central defender Lalas Abubakar. And why wouldn’t they? The Ghanaian was out of favor for the first two months of the Crew’s season – only managing one appearance before arriving to Denver on loan. If a club has a chance to garner an obscene fee for a bench player they’re going to take it every time.
The attempted price gouging in-and-of-itself isn’t necessarily unexpected. What is surprising is how deliberately obvious the Crew’s strategy is regarding the transfer. When Ben Ferree published “Colorado Rapids willing to spend over $1 million to get Columbus Crew CB Lalas Abubakar” in Pro Soccer USA earlier this month, I immediately knew that the sources would either be from the Crew’s camp or completely unattributed. Though the Columbus-based journalist chose to cite the latter, the fact that it was Ferree’s work and not the outlet’s Denver correspondent certainly indicates that this story came from the Crew’s side. After all, the same piece made it clear that Columbus believes Colorado to be one of “several teams” interested, a claim repeated nearly verbatim in the Columbus Dispatch – and nowhere else – weeks later (notably, according to the defender himself, it’s Colorado or bust).
At this point you should be asking yourself: “How would the Crew’s camp know what the Rapids are willing to pay?”Continue reading
Now that the midpoint of the MLS season has come and gone, it’s time to look at how the rest of the season will pan out for the Colorado Rapids. I wrote my 2019 Season Preview up to 17 games into the season. Upon reflection, I was excited and hopeful that this team had what it took to be a mid-table MLS side. I’ll admit, I was so optimistic that I was convinced Anthony Hudson was the right man to lead the Rapids to a playoff berth. Instead, Colorado went on to have two months without winning and averaged one point a month for a total of two points after 13 games.
The biggest turning point of the season came when the Rapids Front Office dismissed head coach Anthony Hudson on May 1st 2019. He had only won a total of 8 league games since being hired in November of 2017. After the firing of Hudson, Conor Casey was tasked with the position of interim head coach to right the course of what had been a terrible start to the season. Under Anthony Hudson, the Colorado Rapids went 0-7-2 and under Conor Casey they went 5-2-2 for a combined total of 5-9-4.
The Rapids find themselves in 11th place just 6 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. My season preview had dubbed 2019 as a throwaway season and to some extent it still is. It’s hard to find it in myself to believe that the Rapids could possibly turn it around and become a playoff contender. However, they probably can. This weird balance of skepticism and optimism has overall clouded any clear prediction as to whether or not the Rapids can actually make a playoff appearance this year. So, this Rest of Season preview will attempt to see both sides and make the case for the optimists and the skeptics: How the Rapids could still make the playoffs and why they ultimately won’t.
The first day of May brought about the firing of coach Anthony Hudson and with it came the appointment of Rapids legend Conor Casey as interim head coach. Now a month later, and the Rapids are a fun team to watch, 9 points behind 7th place, and have some players with a lot of upside and excitement. The addition of centerback Lalas Abubakar, on loan, and winger Jonathan Lewis have also seem to ignite a new spark in this team that was missing in the beginning of the season. Could Hudson have gotten these results with them in place? Most likely not. This mid season Renaissance for the Rapids probably won’t result in much in terms of playoff soccer, but at the very least, this is a team that I don’t mind going to see even if we are out of the playoff hunt come September.
In the five games Casey has managed as interim head coach, the Rapids have a record of two wins, two losses, and a draw resulting in a total of 7 points which still leaves them in last place in the Western Conference, but better last place in the Western Conference with 9 points rather than a mere 2.