2007 Record: 9-13-8 (4th in West)
Coach: Fernando Clavijo (4th Year)
Key Players: Herculez Gomez, Jose Burciaga, Jr., Jovan Kirovski, Buono Coundoul
Key Pickups: Jose Burciaga, Jr. (from Kansas City)
Key Losses: None
2008 Outlook: Poor
The Rapids approach the 2008 MLS season desperate to give their fans something they have never been able to in the past: a championship. Despite being one of the founding teams in the MLS, the Rapids have never won the MLS Cup, the US Open Cup, or the Supporters’ Shield. In fact, the Rapids have not even made it to a finals since 1999.
In order to give their fans that much-awaited championship, Clavijo needs to establish some consistency on offense. In 2007, Colorado scored the second fewest goals of any MLS team. The Rapids will not be able to escape mediocrity until they can produce a true scoring threat. Last year, Jovan Kirovski led the team with only six goals.
It is difficult to pinpoint why the Rapids can’t score though. The Rapids tried to jumpstart the offense when they traded away the “face of the team”, Kyle Beckerman, last season. Beckerman, a defensively-minded midfielder, was sent to Real Salt Lake last July for Mehdi Ballouchy. Ballouchy rewarded the Rapids by immediately receiving a two game suspension for violently elbowing Sasha Victorine.
I refer to Beckerman as the former “face of the team” because it was literally his dreadlocked mug plastered on billboards all over Denver. Pablo Mastroeni, who has been with the Rapids since 2002, will now reassume his “face of the team” status. Mastroeni, despite not producing offensively, is still a fine defensive midfielder and part of the reason the Rapids even finished within spitting distance of .500 last year.
Another reason for their success was that Buona Coundoul had a great season in net for the Rapids last year and is poised to improve even more in 2008. If the defense can continue to play well, and the addition of Burciaga should certainly help, and Terry Cooke can feed someone, and I mean anyone, the ball in front of the net who can then put it between the posts, the Rapids could make a deep playoff run like they did in 2006.
The one thing Colorado needs to improve most rapidly (sorry for the bad pun) is their play away from the Dick. At home last season, the Rapids actually posted a winning record and only gave up eleven goals in fifteen matches. Meanwhile, the Rapids were consistently beaten on the road, posting a 3-9-3 record, and yielded twenty-three goals to their opponents in fifteen matches. In order to succeed in 2008, the Rapids will have to take their Dick-style defense on the road too. God, I love that stadium’s name.
Enjoy watching the Rapids in person this season. Check out the availability of Colorado Rapids tickets