Monday, February 1, 2016

Rapids Add Gashi As DP, Williams As Well


BIG news from Commerce City today that nobody saw coming.  Colorado announced their newest Designated Player, Shkëlzen Gashi.  Who?  Yeah, pretty much everyone had that reaction (and because of that ë I'm just going to refer to him as Gashi from now on).

Gashi is a 27 year old winger/striker from Zurich.  The last two years he's been the Golden Boot winner in the Swiss league.  He's also has played 10 times in the last 2.5 years for the Albanian National Team, getting the winner in a 2-1 comeback over Armenia in Euro 2016 qualifying.

Two years ago he won the Golden Boot with Grasshopper, scoring 19 goals in 32 appearances.  He was then purchased by Basel, the biggest team in Switzerland and a regular Champions League participant (making the round of 16 last year),  Last season he scored 22 goals in 31 appearances to win the Golden Boot again.

Last summer (the Swiss offseason) Basel had a change  in manager and the new coach changed the way Gashi was used, restricting his style more.  Also there's apparently an undercurrent working against Albanian players in Switzerland this year as both National Teams are in the same Euro group next summer.  In the half season he scored 3 times in 10 appearances.

Gashi is generally lined up at the left attacking winger spot but the prior two years was give a more free role in the attack, allowed to drift to where he could be successful.  He's described as a poacher, not a setup man, so we'll need somebody to get him the ball in dangerous locations.  He can also play up top in a standard two striker setup.

This is a great signing by the Front Office and really one of the moves we needed to make.  An attacking player in the middle of his career with a top goal-scoring track record.  Reports in Switzerland say we've signed him until 2019 which is a serious long-term deal so that's a positive s well.  The  move from the Swiss league to MLS won't be that big of a change in quality, depending on who you talk to the leagues are seen as slightly better or worse than each other but not a big difference.  Obviously with Albania in the Euros we'll lose him for June and maybe late May but unless Albania makes an amazing run it should only be a couple of games.  Hats off to Bravo and Co. for this signing.

Along with the larger news of Gashi today there was also this news from Antigua GFC of the Guatemalan league.  Defender Mekeil Williams has been transferred to the Rapids.  No official word from Colorado yet but I assume they didn't want to distract focus from today's big signing and we'll hear something tomorrow.  Williams can play left back and center back though it sounds like he mainly plays outside.  He's 25 years old and has played 10 times for the Trinidad & Tobago National Team since 2012.

The final bit of news is that the Sarvas deal became official.  We got Targeted Allocation Money and a conditional 2018 Superdraft pick in exchange.  According to reports we also picked up about half Sarvas' 2016 salary.  I don't love eating the salary but if it frees up enough room to make another couple of quality moves it will be worth it.

Current roster:

GK John Berner
GK Zac MacMath
D March Burch
D Bobby Burling
D Marlon Hairston
D Axel Sjoberg
D Sean St. Ledger
D Mekeil Williams
M Michael Azira
M Sam Cronin
M Marco Pappa
M Zach Pfeffer
M Dillon Powers
M Dillon Serna
M Jared Watts
F Dominque Badji
F Caleb Calvert
F Kevin Doyle
Shkëlzen Gashi
F Luis Solignac

Unsigned draftees:

GK Chris Froschauer
D Dennis Castillo
D Bradley Kamdem
D Javan Torre
M Emmanuel Appiah
F John Manga

Trialists:

D Stephen Keel
M Yann Ekra - Charlotte
M Brian Ownby - Richmond

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