Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rapids All-Time Team: Right Center Back

The starting right center back for the Rapids All-Time Team is Peter Vermes. Alas I could not find a picture of him in a Rapids kit, so I went with the U.S. kit instead.

How Acquired: Traded Kerry Zavagnin to the NY/NJ Metrostars for him.

Years In Colorado: 1997 through 1999

How Departed: Traded to KC along with Matt McKeon for Scott Vermillion and an allocation.

When looking at the history of Rapids defenders there are many good players but, other than Balboa, not many great players. It seems most of the really great players, Robin Fraser for example, had their best years playing elsewhere and not in Colorado. That leaves a lot of flexibility for formations and players. Because of that I've decided to go with a 3-man backline with two players flanking Balboa that could play equally well inside and outside.

Peter Vermes didn't have a long career in Colorado, but he was a rock on the backline in his 3 years with the Rapids. In the 96 regular season games those years he started 88 of them and subbed into an 89th. He only missed 7 games in 3 years, and he was still getting occasional looks from the National Team at this point in his career (he was the last man cut from the 1998 World Cup team). That's a Drew Moor level of health (Yeah, I just jinxed Moor on Saturday). 89 appearances are the 4th most by a defender in Rapids history.

Vermes also gave Mooch some flexibility in that he was capable of playing striker late in games when needed. Peter had 8 goals and 11 assists in his career (still a team career record for a defender). This gave Mooch the opportunity to mix and match his squad, adding a defender in the back late and pushing Vermes up to protect a lead, or adding a dangerous element on the back-line to combine with the starting strikers for set pieces.

Peter combined with Marcelo to give the Rapids a center back tandem that more than once also started as the center back tandem for the National Team. This gave Colorado the foundation to build a team around after their disastrous inaugural season, and the Rapids rode that foundation to an appearance in MLS Cup 1997. They would continue their partnership and lead Colorado to the 1998 and 1999 playoffs and the 1999 U.S Open Cup final, the second (and last) final appearance for the Rapids before last year's championship run. In 1999 the team also had the 4th best defense in the league, a significant upgrade from the first 3 seasons.

Vermes combination of skill, reliability, and flexibility was unique for a defender in Rapids history. That made him a leading candidate for the All-Time Team and when compared with the other options I couldn't find a better player to line up next to Balboa.

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