By JOSE M. ROMERO
As the saying goes, if it isn't broken, why fix it?
The words apply to the 2011 Colorado Rapids, the defending MLS Cup champions who will look almost exactly the same on the field as they did on that bitter cold November night in Toronto when they bucked the odds and raised the trophy.
Casey. Cummings. Larentowicz. Kandji. Mastroeni. Wynne. Pickens. All have returned plus what looks to be an upgrade to the roster in new additions Tyrone Marshall, Sanna Nyassi and Joseph Nane.
It appears the Rapids not only kept the heart of the team together, but they added three players who can each bring a different dimension to the lineup and bolster depth for competitions outside of MLS regular season games. That has coach Gary Smith excited about this season.
"Two terrific additions," Smith said of Marshall and Nyassi, both Seattle Sounders the past two seasons. "I think they give us more options. With the added games, it gives us more strength. All in all, there's an added buzz about the group."
Smith was grateful that the club was able to keep so many players from the championship team, and credited vice president of finance Charlie Wright for handling the numbers.
"The more challenging aspect was making sure the contracts that were being renewed and the added stress and strain of the (salary) cap, keeping players under it and the group under it after we've had some success is always a difficulty," Smith said.
The Rapids had what Smith called a wonderful offseason celebrating the MLS Cup win. But the coach isn't satisfied with just one cup in the trophy case and seeks "regular silverware."
So is there a target on the Rapids' back? Smith sees it another way.
"I think any team that starts the season well, and if we can then I don't think it will matter whether we won the Cup or not," Smith said. "Any team that's out of the blocks quickly that becomes leaders of the pack at any point within the division or leagues is going to be the team to beat. I don't think there's any stress or any undue pressure on this group, in fact I think they've gone the other way. By winning it and by being ultra-competitive all year, there's a lot of confidence in the group."