Rapids Journal

Despite Serna Departure, Colorado Poised to Reverse Homegrown Fortunes

The Colorado Rapids are signing homegrown players en masse – it’s become a clear trend to bring in both local academy players and graduates from elsewhere in MLS under the management of Pádraig Smith. This approach is pragmatic, as it affords the club advantages in cap management and transfer profit alike. However, the release of Dillon Serna and Sam Raben has once again shed light upon the failures of the Rapids organization to turn promising local talent into significant transfer profit, much less long-term contributors for the first team.

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In-Depth, Preseason

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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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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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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