Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser is excited for the resumption of the 2020 season, if and when that is. And for good reasons. The Rapids have an excellent squad.
The Colorado Rapids ended the 2019 season in excellent form. They won five of the final seven matches to make a late run at the Western playoff places. They fell at the final hurdle, losing to historic Supporters’ Shield winners, Los Angeles FC, but the run of form laid the foundations for the future, especially under new head coach Robin Fraser.
The Rapids returned the large portion of the team that ended 2019 so successfully. Lalas Abubakar was signed permanently in the offseason, the goalscoring trio of Diego Rubio, Kei Kamara and rookie Andre Shinyashiki were going nowhere, while improvements could be expected from Sam Vines, Jack Price and Jonathan Lewis.
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There was already plenty of reason to be positive about the 2020 prospects of the Colorado Rapids. And then they added that little sparkle on top that might just take what is the basis on a good team without that elite edge to the very top: they signed an elite playmaker.
Younes Namli arrived in a Designated Player deal in the offseason and immediately showcased what he is capable of, scoring a terrific goal versus Orlando City.
With all this quality to play with, as well as depth at almost every position, Fraser is extremely excited about the resumption of the 2020 season, especially if the campaign is shifted into a knockout format as has been muted amid a truncated timescale due to COVID-19.
“The more I think about what this truncated season may look like, I get excited about it,” Fraser told reporters on a video conference call. “We have at least two players in each position that, on any day, would be comfortable starting. I don’t know that every team feels that way. This format could suit us very well.”
Whether the Rapids would be better suited to a knockout competition or the league season being played out is up for debate. While Fraser’s point of having excellent depth is a valid one, that would usually work in favour of the team over an extended season, not in one-off, knockout matches. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be excited about this Rapids team, no matter what the MLS season looks like.
They have goals aplenty, both in terms of experienced, proven veterans and high-ceiling young prospects. They now have a superb centre-back partnership should the Auston Trusty reclamation project be successful, and Drew Moor offers excellent veteran depth. They also have flexibility in central midfield: Namli playing ahead of Kellyn Acosta and Price is a tantalising trio, to say the least.
At every position, the Rapids have a neat blend of MLS experience, youthful potential, and experience and leadership. If there is anything the team is missing it is that elite-level skill. Perhaps only Namli is one of the very best players at his position in the league. This has worked in the Rapids’ advantage a little. They go overlooked because they do not have the big names.
And so, when the MLS season gets going again, in whatever form that may be, watch out for the Colorado Rapids. As Fraser says, it’s time to get excited.