Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rapids Announce Trialists With Some Interesting Names

Today the Rapids announced their preseason roster including all the trialists in camp.  Lets break them down with their chances of making the team or not.

First will start with the two draftees:
Jeremy Kelly - RB/DM
Kelly was our first round pick, in that we traded our pick for the GAM we needed to trade for Kelly after he was taken 2 picks before us.  He would provide cover for Rosenberry, allowing us to loan Anderson out to the Springs for more experience, and would be additional depth at DM.
Probability of making the team: HIGH

Robin Afamefuna - LB
Afamefuna was our second round pick in the draft.  He does fit into an area where we have less depth, only Vines and Wynne, but neither of them really need time in the Springs, unlike Anderson on the right.  While Kelly comes into camp with an obvious spot to claim, Afamefuna is on the outside looking in.  He's going to have to impress the coaches to get a spot on the roster:
Probability of making the team: LOW

Along with those two there are seven trialists in camp.
Andres Alarcon - CB
An 18 year old currently playing with Argentinos Jr. who popped up on the radar while the scouting team was in Argentina scouting Galvan (and others).  I've heard there's some real interest in Alarcon but at 18 there's no given that he'll develop to MLS level.  Still, travelling all the way here for a preseason trial is indicitive of some potential.
Probability of making the team: HIGH (likely with a plan to be loaned to the Springs)

Jacob Hauser-Ramsey - CB
Hauser-Ramsey was a second round pick by the Rapids last season.  He spent the preseason injured, then played for Memphis in USL in 2019.  Obviously the Rapids want to take a second look now that he's healthy but he's got a hill to climb.  There's a lot of defender competition in camp this year and we already have four players clearly in front of him for depth (Abubakar, Trusty, Ford, and Moor).
Probability of making the team: LOW

Brian Lopez - DM
Another Argentinian find, Kelly is currently playing with Racing Club.  He's 20 years old and caught the eye of the scouts on the Argentina scouting trip.  We don't need a DM right now,  but we don't have a young DM coming through the system at the moment so there's a hole to fill for the future.
Probability of making the team: MEDIUM

Kwadwo Poku - AM
Poku was originally found by the Sounders while playing in the lower leagues with Atlanta, but his rights were traded to NYCFC, where he made 34 appearances in 2015 and 2016.  He then ended up with Miami FC in the NASL, had a cup of coffee in Russia, and then played last year with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  He's also been capped 3 times for Ghana.  He's trying to work himself back to MLS and the Rapids don't have a ton of attacking mid depth.  Still at 28 years old he's peaking in his career and that has largely not been at MLS level.
Probability of making the team: LOW

Abraham Rodriguez - GK
Rodriguez is an Academy product that signed for the Switchbacks last season, but that does not preclude us from signing him as a homegrown player.  As the only unsigned keeper in camp and with us needing a third keeper there seems to be an obvious fit.
Probability of making the team: VERY HIGH (with a year long loan to the Springs)

Will Vint - CM
Possibly the most interesting name on the list, and the hardest to evaluate.  Vint was raised in Colorado Springs but did not go through the Rapids academy.  At 15 he was signed by the Manchester United Academy after his father got a job in the UK.  He spent almost two years there, getting over 3000 minutes in over 50 matches for the United youth teams before issues with his family's visas had them returning to the States.  He joined the Atlanta Academy in 2018 but has now moved back to Colorado.  Multiple sources have him already part of the Rapids Academy though I don't know if that's official.  He'll be 19 in October, which will be about the time he'll reportedly qualify as a homegrown player for the Rapids.  My expectation is that we'll essentially promise him a spot on the 2021 team, assuming he continues to play at the expected level in the Academy, maybe get him some time in the Springs.
Probability of making the team: LOW (for this preseason)

Darren Yapi - F
Yapi is a 15 year old attacker from the Academy.  He's been brought to LA to get his first taste of professional experience.  I don't think he's in serious consideration for a roster spot yet.
Probability of making the team: LOW

So I'm predicting Rodriguez, Kelly, and Alarcon to be signed (in descending order of confidence) with Lopez having a shot to make the team.  The rest would be a surprise unless they think they can't wait on Vint.  Poku being signed wouldn't be a complete shock, though I don't expect it.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Welcome To Preseason

After three days of preseason check in, physicals, fitness tests, and media work in Commerce City the Rapids fly out to Carson, CA for a month long preseason camp before the season starts on Feb. 29th in DC (5 weeks from Saturday!).  There hasn't been much news out of the gathering at the Dick but reportedly Kortne Ford is fit and ready to battle for playing time, which is great news.

As always we kickoff preseason with our first look at the camp roster.  As of right now its just the list of signed players and draftees.  I expect at we start getting reports out of Carson we'll hear of other players in camp, either Academy players, Switchbacks hoping to move up, or MLS free agents trying to catch on with the team.  The name most likely to appear IMO is goalkeeper Abe Rodriguez of the Switchbacks and Rapids Academy.  Colorado only has two GKs on the roster, so the third spot is ripe to be filled by a young player like Rodriguez.  One note, this list won't include Braian Galvan unless a deal is made to bring him in during this window.

Roster as of 1/20:

Goalkeepers:
Clint Irwin
Andre Rawls

Defenders:
Lalas Abubakar
Sebastian Anderson - Homegrown Player
Kortne Ford
Drew Moor
Keegan Rosenberry
Abdul Rwatubyaye - International
Auston Trusty
Sam Vines - HG
Danny Wilson - International
Deklan Wynne

Midfielders:
Kellyn Acosta - Homegrown Player
Cole Bassett - Homegrown Player
Nicolas Mezquida - International
Younes Namli - International, Designated Player
Jack Price - International

Wingers:
Nicolas Benezet - International
Jonathan Lewis
Sam Nicholson

Forwards:
Matt Hundley - Homegrown Player
Niki Jackson
Kei Kamara
Diego Rubio
Andre Shinyashiki - International

That's 25 signed players, with a 26 coming, for 30 roster slots.  We're at one DP out of a possible 3, and 7 internationals out of a possible 6, so expect somebody like Rwatubyaye to spend the season in the Springs again.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Rapids Make It A Hat-Trick Of Signings In As Many Days

For the third day in a row the Rapids announced a signing.  This time its the oft-rumored Braian Galvan from Colon in Argentina.  The announcement is a pre-contract signing with Galvan joining the team in the summer window.  Players currently under contract can sign a contract with a new team once they're within 6 months of the end of their contract, with the transfer happening in the first window after the expiration of their current contract.  Galvan is out of contract in June, so he could sign a contract starting in December and would be able to join us in July.

At the time of the announcement there was hope that we could come to a deal to buy him from Colon in the winter window and have him join the team in preseason.  That hope seems to have died tonight as Colon has released a letter claiming that we illegally signed Galvan before he was eligible to sign a pre-contract.  I'm reading things through Google Translate so my take on the situation is a bit hit or miss, but this article makes it seem that Colon is claiming that because he was injured and not able to play he hadn't actually fulfilled his contract yet and as such, wasn't in the last 6 months of his contract.

Quite simply, that's a joke if accurate and will never hold up to any ruling from FIFA and probably not even from the Argentinian FA, who they're partitioning.  This is pretty clearly a face saving move by Colon as their fans were not pleased when they learned they were losing one of the "jewels" of their club on a free because their leadership dropped the ball and let him get into the six month window without securing his long-term rights.  At worst I expect the Rapids to toss a little money Colon's way to make this issue go away, but they might not even get that.

I'm pretty sure that's going to be the end of the news this week, at least until players report to Commerce City for physicals on Saturday before they head to California on Tuesday.  Over the weekend I'll have my normal camp roster up and an analysis of where we stand and what moves we may still need to make.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Rapids Make Back To Back Signings On Back To Back Days

As had been heavily rumored, Colorado signed both Younes Namli and Nicolas Benezet this week.  Benezet was reportedly signed to a two year deal while Namli is here on a two year loan with an option to buy.  Salaries and transfer fees have not been released or leaked yet, though I expect them to be in the rumored ballpark.

Both these moves should pay dividends.  Benezet has already shown he can play in MLS with his time in Toronto and should fit right in as a starting winger.  Namli will be the obvious starter in the attacking midfield, and while he hasn't experienced MLS yet coming out of Europa League play is a good baseline to start from.  The loan makes this a low risk, high reward move.  If things don't work out its an easy separation and since the option to buy is in the loan deal if Namli hits (the more likely scenario) we already have an agreed on price.

Padraig Smith talked about more deals in the works, specifically targeting a young player in Argentina.  This matches with the rumored acquisition of Brian Galvan, which seems to be hung up on negotiating his release in the winter window instead of bringing him in on a free in the summer window.  Regardless I don't expect him to make a major impact early in the season so while it would be great to have him as soon as possible, not having him shouldn't be a blow to our hopes.

Kudos go out to the Front Office for making all our major signings are done before camp opens next week.  Many FO's in the past seemed to scramble and just start their offseason work when camp opened, not finish it by then.  We're currently at 25 of 30 players, one extra international, and plenty of time to fill in around the edges.  Its nice to be this comfortable entering the preseason.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rapids Pass On Rest Of Superdraft

The Rapids passed with all three of their picks in rounds 3 and 4 of the Superdraft today.  Not a shock, more than half the teams passed on at least one pick.  There's just not value any more this low in the draft.  MLS should reduce it to two rounds for now and eventually phase it out in favor of another allocation list style ranking when the league gets to 30 or so teams.