Commerce City, CO (Sports Network) - Two seasons after hoisting the MLS Cup
in 2010, the Colorado Rapids find themselves in a completely different
position heading into this season.
The Rapids entered a transitional period in 2012 with new manager Oscar Pareja
patrolling the touchline and new technical director Paul Bravo in the front
office, but many believed the team still had enough quality to reach the
Through the first four months of the 2012 campaign, the Rapids got off to a
less-than-stellar 6-8-1 start. They closed out the month of June with a
comfortable 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers and looked to have turned a
But then the bottom fell out.
Colorado endured a dismal 0-6-0 July which essentially doomed its chances of
reaching the playoffs. The Rapids finished the season by dropping three of
their final four league matches and ended with an 11-19-4 mark, good for 37
points and seventh place in the Western Conference.
After such a poor 2012, the Rapids turned a new leaf leading into this term by
shedding many of the players that were key pieces to the team's MLS Cup run of
Gone are forwards Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, as well as midfielder Jeff
Larentowicz. Casey spent six seasons in the Mile High city and leaves as
the team's all-time leading goal scorer with 50 tallies. However, the 31-year-
old suffered an Achilles injury in 2011 and his contract was declined
following last season, allowing the Philadelphia Union to select him in stage
two of the MLS re-entry draft.
Cummings was shipped to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for midfielder Nathan
Sturgis and Larentowicz was moved to the Chicago Fire.
With both of the team's marquee strikers out of town, Pareja and Bravo pulled
off a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy for mercurial forward Edson Buddle.
Buddle had a huge year for the Galaxy in 2010, putting up 17 goals in 25
starts before a stint in Germany in 2011. He came back to the Galaxy last
season but scored just three times in 19 games after returning from June knee
Colorado will need Buddle to return to his 2010 form if the club wants to
reach the postseason this year.
Playing alongside Buddle in the 4-3-3 formation will likely be Tony Cascio and
newcomer Atiba Harris, who arrived via a trade from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Cascio appeared in 29 games last season and scored three goals to go with
three assists, while Harris will need to have a bounce-back season after
registering zero goals in seven appearances with Vancouver.
Captain Pablo Mastroeni anchors a three-man midfield along with Hendry Thomas
and Kamani Hill.
The 36-year-old Mastroeni missed 32 of 34 games last season due to concussion
symptoms, but announced in December that he would be returning to the club for
2013, supplying the Rapids with some veteran leadership.
"I was ready to retire probably in June or July of last year," Mastroeni said.
"[But] buying that time allowed me to kind of re-evaluate my situation. The
light bulb clicked, and it was like, 'I can really do this again. And not only
can I do this again, but I want to do this again.'"
Colorado's backline has also endured its share of turnover ahead of the new
campaign as Tyrone Marshall and Tyson Wahl both had their options declined at
the end of 2012.
Drew Moor remains in the fold to anchor a defense which finished with a
minus-6 goal differential last season. Moor started all 34 of Colorado's
matches last campaign, while fellow defender Marvell Wynne started 28 games.
Joining Moor and Wynne in defense will likely be Diego Calderon and
Anthony Wallace, while Matt Pickens remains solid between the pipes for the
Colorado will need Buddle to be healthy and return to his 2010 form, and the
defense will have to be improved, but Colorado can challenge for a playoff
spot if things go well for Pareja's squad.
2012 IN REVIEW: Colorado hovered around the .500 mark for the first four
months of the season before the bottom fell out and the club lost six straight
games in July. The Rapids finished with 19 losses and in seventh place in the
Western Conference with 37 points.
ACQUISITIONS: Atiba Harris (M/F), Edson Buddle (F), Nathan Sturgis (M), Diego
Calderon (D), Kevin Harbottle (F), DeShorn Brown (D), Dillon Powers (M),
Dillon Serna (M), Nick LaBrocca (M).
LOSSES: Conor Casey (F), Omar Cummings (F), Jeff Larentowicz (M), Tyrone
Marshall (D), Tyson Wahl (D), Hunter Freeman (D).
OUTLOOK: With such a large influx of new players, it is a bit difficult to
predict where Colorado will finish. Buddle needs to remain healthy and produce
numbers closer to his 2010 season rather than 2012 if the Rapids are to make
the playoffs. The defensive effort will also need to be better, but if Pareja
can get his new troops to play together, the playoffs are a possibility for
the new-look Rapids.
The Sports Network