>Sunday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – Colorado Rapids

Posted: March 6, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 12-8-10 46 points, 5th in West, 7th overall. Beat Columbus 2-2 on aggregate (5-4 on pks) in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Beat San Jose 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Final, Beat FC Dallas 2-1 in MLS Cup.
Key Losses: Julien Baudet
Key Additions: Sanna Nyassi, Tyrone Marshall
Projected Starting XI: Colorado return all of their MLS Cup winning starters in what will likely be a tough year for them, due to their schedule and their billing as reigning champions. Up top, they possess the best forward partnership in MLS with Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. Casey/Cummings combined for 27 goals last year, the most out of any partnership. They were also the only partnership to have both players hit for at least 10 goals. With 34 games this season, I could see them getting 35 goals together. Their midfield projects to be the same that won them the Cup last year with one change. I think that Jamie Smith will be relegated to the bench for Sanna Nyassi. Obviously, Colorado still thinks Smith can play, but with a loaded schedule this year, they would like to have three to four players who can play these positions. Brian Mullen, though getting up there in years, should be the other outside midfield starter. The things in the center of the field are much clearer cut. Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz form one of the best central midfield duos in the league, and their starting places are under no circumstances up for grabs. Their backline is also unchanged with Anthony Wallace, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, and Kosuke Kimura leading the way just as they did last year. In goal, the always good but not great Matt Pickens looks to again be the clear starter.

Conor Casey          Omar Cummings
Brian Mullen          Pablo Mastroeni          Jeff Larentowicz          Sanna Nyassi
Anthony Wallace          Marvell Wynne          Drew Moor          Kosuke Kimura
Matt Pickens

Prognosis: As the reigning MLS Cup champions, they won’t face an easy game; every team will want to get up to say they beat the champions. This being said, I still think Colorado will do better than they did last year in the regular season. Omar Cummings is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball and is an underrated player. I think Cummings will challenge for the Golden Boot and prove to be one of the most dynamic players in the league once again. Their midfield will be strong as well; I’m looking forward to see what Sanna Nyassi can do with a midfield that should let him run free. This team doesn’t really have any questions; they simply have solid players at every position. None of their players besides Cummings can claim to be one of the top three players at his position in the league, but each and every one of them is in the top six or seven. Basically, this team has a bunch of guys that are good but not great, which should be fine. I would expect a top five finish from this team as long as the schedule congestion (with the CONCACAF Champions League doesn’t hurt them too much). I’m also looking forward to seeing if this team can solve its home attendance woes by finally having a winning side. Overall, 2011 looks to be a good year for Rapids fans.
The Intern’s Take: Not much news has come out about the Rapids during the offseason and that’s fine for them. Now that they are the reigning champions and have the target on their back, it will be fun to see how they respond to that pressure. Although I do not think they will win the Cup again, it will be all right if they do, only so we can see Jeff Larentowicz in his “sky with flying cows” costume again. The duo of Casey and Cummings should only improve this year and lead another strong Colorado season. Colorado will probably be right there in the challenge for a Western Conference playoff berth but I think they still may end up with a wild card spot. Either way, they should be able to make the playoffs again. This team has already been tested in MLS and proven themselves, and I am curious to see how they fare in CCL and if they can replicate the success RSL is having this season. Having another MLS team make a deep run into the tournament would be great for the league and Colorado has the quality to do so. I like the addition of Sanna Nyassia lot, and he should be able to connect well with Casey and Cummings while providing more depth to a crucial position.

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