The Colorado Rapids have their playmaker. The question just how much did the Rapids spend to get him?
After agreeing to a trade with D.C. United for his rights, the Rapids signed Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez. The Rapids traded a first-round pick and, according to the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, their designated player slot for two years as well.
D.C. United is loving life right now, scoring what could be a high draft pick in 2009 as well as a coveted second DP slot for a player it had no intention of re-signing. After the laughable trade of Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake last year, a deal that essentially set up D.C. to make many of its signings this off-season, D.C. general manager Dave Kasper officially loves dealing with the Western Conference.
Good deal for the Rapids? On the surface it would seem so, but I’m not convinced. For one, the Rapids still don’t have a reliable forward. I know Gomez will score goals and set some up, but I really don’t feel like Colorado was just one player away and now the Rapids have dealt away the one mechanism it had to sign a truly high-profile player. Yes, Gomez is good, but he isn’t selling many tickets.
Something else to consider is how Gomez will fare playing at altitude. His workrate and fitness levels have been questioned in the past and now he must set up shop in the lung-busting confines of Denver. If the Rapids are serious about letting him forget about defensive responsibilties then Gomez can manage.
The best part is that I’m sure Colorado will trumpet this as the organization proving that it is willing to spend money on a winner. Well, don’t be so sure. By dealing its designated player slot, the Rapids won’t have to even consider a DP player, which would cost Colorado big money directly. Gomez’s contract is a big one (with some estimates putting it a half a million per season), but it is all covered by the league cap since he isn’t a DP.
The Rapids have a good starting lineup now but is it good enough to win the West? At best, I give Colorado third place in the West behind Houston and Los Angeles, at worst, they still may be only the fifth best team in the West after Houston, LA, Chivas USA and Dallas.
The picture you see above is not a 2008 Rapids team photo but a picture taken before last year’s MLS season opener. Two trades later and the Rapids now have Gomez and defender Facundo Erpen (right) to go with Pablo Mastroeni and Niko Hernandez. I wonder if this picture was hanging in Fernando Clavijo’s office all year as he plotted these acquisitions.
What do you think of the deal? Did the Rapids pay WAY TOO MUCH? Did Colorado find the missing piece to a championship puzzle? Has D.C. set itself up as MLS Cup favorites for the next two years? Share your thoughts below.