Covid-19 concerns may have halted play on the field for the Colorado Rapids but that hasn’t stopped the front office from making moves in this season’s transfer window. Parting ways with Kia Kamara may have come as a shock to many, but I must remind you that while he was still productive offensively, he is also 36 years of age.
That leaves the primary striker responsibilities up to Andre Shinyashiki and Diego Rubio. Andre is an exciting young player in his second year with the Rapids after completing a stellar college career at Denver University. An early contender last year for MLS Rookie of the year, his production was good but he fell short of scoring double digits with seven goals on the year. Rubio also had a very productive 2019 reaching double digits with 11 goals for the first time in his MLS career. The Chilean shows no signs of letting up in 2020 with 2 goals and 2 assists in 11 appearances thus far. Rubio and Shinyashiki will definitely provide good inter-squad competition for the striker position up top.
Rapids fans are hoping this is Shinyashiki break out year, his nose for the goal can turn a game on its head quickly. I believe he can become the type of player that can carry the team on his back and be a game-changer with individual effort. Head Coach Robin Fraser elected to go with roughly the same lineup in the last two games which produced two shutouts, a 2-0 win over LA Galaxy, and a 5-0 rout of San Jose. The defense was solid, but the most intriguing part of that line up isn’t Kellyn Acosta at the holding mid position, he’s proved time and time again he can get involved in the attack and play provider from deep-lying positions.
The most intriguing part at the moment is 19-year-old homegrown Cole Bassett is holding down the Central Midfield position like a BOSS! He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 games and 7 starts! He has really started to come along in the playmaker position. On paper, the Rapids look good on depth in the midfield but it’s yet to be seen consistently. Uruguayan Nicolás Mezquida has to make the most of his minutes as his productivity has dropped off in a time when he should be in his prime.
Perhaps, young 20-year-old Argentine Braian Galván could play the midfielder as well if Bassett picks up an injury, but it has yet to be seen as he has played from a wide position. I think a #10 would serve Fraser and his 4-2-3-1 formation well, but I see limited depth in this position. A little more than 2 weeks remain in the transfer window but I don’t expect a lot of movement from the club.
Bringing in William Yarbrough on loan from Mexican club Leon has shored up the keeper position now with two very competitive keepers in Yarbrough and incumbent Clint Irwin for the number one spot. The backline looks youthful and solid as well with Lalas Abubakar and Keegan Rosenberry.
An interesting transfer in is Right Back Steven Beitashour from LAFC. No stranger to Robin Fraser as Beitashour was at Toronto FC during the 2016-2017 season when Fraser served as an assistant coach there. The play here, and I could be wrong, is an MLS veteran with International experience coming into the fold to help mentor the backline, a capacity I feel Drew Moor is mainly serving currently as well.
Now at 33, I feel like Beitashour could still start, but in most areas, the roster is getting increasingly younger. We may only get a year out of Beitashour, I hope that isn’t the case, but Benny Felhaber’s departure last year shows me that things can change very quickly for aging stars. There is a silver lining and kind of a wild card, currently, there are five homegrown players on the roster that are injured or not available. Their return would certainly add to the depth.
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