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Drawing of the 30: Designated Player

January 13, 2011 | 11:28 am No comments
By Shaun Schafer

(Editor’s Note: This is the final part in a series looking at the Rapids expanded roster for 2011.)

Looking at the Rapids future has been an exercise in looking at what the team already possesses. In considering signing a Designated Player, it’s time to look outside the club.

Where is the rest of the league going, and do the Rapids need a Designated Player to keep pace?

Picking up Juan Pablo Angel makes it clear that the LA Galaxy is not content with a Supporters Shield. Having the best regular season record is “nice,” but it’s not enough. Teams want to be playing in the final game of the season.

LA lost in the final two years ago and fell to FC Dallas in the semifinals in 2010. With Landon Donovan and David Beckham, the Galaxy already has marquee names. Edson Buddle was a pistol-hot scorer for the first half of the season, and will benefit from not having any national team duties this summer. Adding Angel makes this a team that can score in bunches.

Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry give New York Red Bulls star power. It doesn’t hurt that the rest of the squad is also better. Truthfully, the erratic brilliance of Bouna Coundoul in goal is the only question mark left on this team.

In the Western Conference alone, Real Salt Lake needs a consistent scoring touch, but represents a threat to breakup the LA-New York road to the final. FC Dallas is improved and San Jose isn’t a fluke. Seattle seems to be stagnating, and Portland and Vancouver will be learning. Houston is adrift and aging. Chivas is a hot mess.

The Rapids? Well, they aren’t much for star power. Pablo Mastroeni, Conor Casey and, now, Omar Cummings are the only names most fans in the league would know. So far, this hasn’t hurt Colorado.

Outlook: Can Colorado continue to thrive without a designated player? Yes.

The way this team is built, there is no obvious spot for a DP. If coach Gary Smith decided to go with a 4-3-3 and play three central midfielders, it would make sense to grab a slick passer from overseas. If Smith decides to try the 4-5-1 again, a holding midfielder would be worth the price.

Who is out there that would fit as a midfield DP? It would almost have to be a benchwarmer in England, Italy, Germany or Spain. Most of them would expect DP money, but would they be worth it? Probably not.

Likely Move: Unless someone buys Cummings, the Rapids will hold pat. In building from the current 23 to 30 players, there is hypothetical room for a DP signing, but it’s unlikely to happen. Instead, Smith may look to add another veteran midfielder for depth or a young wing back for development.

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