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Woeful Rapids have gone from bad to hopeless

It pays to have a plan in place, and it could be said the the Colorado Rapids are working with a plan. Results continue to show that it isn’t a very good one.

The Rapids are a bad soccer team. They are bad on the field and they are almost equally as bad off of it. The team sits second-to-last in the West with four wins in 18 games to go with a -10 goal differential.

The play on the field has been hard to watch for a variety of reasons. But what’s even harder to watch is the way the club has executed a “vision”, one that has little to no chance of succeeding in the modern MLS.

Let’s get it out of the way: the Rapids will never be an LAFC or a New York City FC or an Atlanta United. They don’t have the glamour or the clout. They also don’t have the money or the connections or the resources, and that’s fine. For as big as parity is in MLS, the league is quickly becoming a league of wealthy elite. Still, it’s possible to compete with the wealthy elite if you have a bonafide plan.

Sporting KC has built a system and a training ground to match. FC Dallas relies on up-and-coming Homegrowns to supplement South American stars. The Columbus Crew have overcome some major losses by committing to a system while rewarding longtime contributors. It’s possible if you do things right. You can find Homegrowns or improve through the draft or farm the USL. You can find talent.

Now, let’s get back to the Rapids. The Rapids plan, in some ways, began with the signing of Tim Howard. There’s nothing wrong with splashing the cash on a U.S. Men’s National Team regular, especially when you need to put butts in seats. But when that former USMNT regular is arguably the second best goalkeeper on your roster, you have a problem.

The rest of the roster is a mess. An offseason recruiting push saw the Rapids bring in the equivalent of the English lower league All-Stars. Jack Price, Tommy Smith, Danny Wilson and Joe Mason headlined the team’s winter moves. None have been good enough. Mason, a Targeted Allocation Money signing, was waived this week.

As things stand, the Rapids have two DPs on their roster: Howard and Shkëlzen Gashi. If offered to any other team in the league, would another MLS side take either of those two players on their current deals?

And then there’s the coach, Anthony Hudson, who was brought in after a reasonably successful stint with New Zealand. Despite an awful start to the season, Hudson was immediately linked with a return to England for some reason, even though the half-year stint with the Rapids would do little to inspire faith.

It’s not good enough. In a league that is quickly moving towards younger, more dynamic talent, it’s simply not enough. You don’t need to sign the Ezequiel Barcos of the world to compete, but you need to be shrewd, creative and, most of all, smart.

The Rapids have shown no creativity, on or off the field. On the field, the team routinely starts a lineup full of centerbacks with half of them miscast in other positions simply because they don’t have enough attacking talent. Off the field, the team hasn’t adjusted its course at all, as Mason will reportedly be replaced by Giles Barnes, who is fresh off a failed stint with Club Leon and two lackluster MLS seasons for two different teams.

The blame falls on leadership. Pádraig Smith has done little to improve the team since 2014. Hudson has yet to show much of anything as a coach. The team, as a whole, has gone completely downhill since the surprise 2016 run.

Wholesale changes are needed, and they’re needed fast if the Rapids don’t want to fall further and further behind the pack. The club is dangerously close to irrelevancy, on and off the field, and the current system has done little to inspire hope that anything will change any time soon.


  1. Who cares, it’s not like they get relegated. MLS, single entity system, promoting mediocrity and killing football in America since 1995 (was it?)…
    Garber, GTFO, for the sake of football…
    USMNT couldn’t qualify and behind the worst team in the WC, Panama, wake up, you delusionals…

    • I absolutely do think the closer and closer we get to 40 teams, the more the cry for pro/rel is going to start getting overwhelming.

      No matter how much Garber and MLS go for parity, inept will still remain inept, and there are certain bottom-dwellers who seem to refuse to invest or even trouble themselves to hire competent soccer people, and at some point the Arthur Blanks and City Football Groups are going to refuse to carry them…and why should they?

      If you’re an MLS owner and you actually wanna get serious, you best get serious. Time may actually be running out to decide. Landscapes change in a hurry when money is at stake.

    • Kroenke to Smith: “I want to put together a team that will help us relocate to LA”

      Smith: Yea, these guys can move furniture better than playing soccer”

  2. If nothing else, the way the Rapids are taking it on the chin is a hard repudiation that MLS is “League One level”. Guys from that level who come over to MLS have died ugly, and the Rapids are full of them. Even guys from the Championship have usually not done overly well.

    We’re on the right path, IMHO. Just keep growing, keep improving, keep building stadia and academies, and hey, before you know it, you’ve got a sustaining system going, especially since we’re not likely going to get guys into the Euro leagues in any real numbers.

    • Championship players do fine.Wright-phillips and Diomande are scoring in bunches. Joe Mason who recently got cut, had better numbers here than in the championship.

  3. Relegate them! Please! It would benefit the league overall, whoever they promote would have to be better, at least more interesting, and it would be the only way this team ever changes their ways!

  4. Thanks for writing this Ryan. Rapids need to be called out badly. I currently live in Denver and I frankly feel sorry for the marketing folks who relentlessly call me to buy mini-plans, etc. They simply have no case to make. Really, what team simply waives its #10 mid-season? Probably the same team that thought Joe Mason was ever a #10 to begin with. Classic rubbish footballer. Wouldn’t give him the #10 shirt in my rec league. Or any shirt. Awful.

  5. nice piece, ryan. the last time the rapids had an identity was when former rapids and usmnt attack dog defender pablo mastroeni coached the rapids to i think the fewest goals allowed in the league (or nearly the fewest). (trouble was, not enough scoring on the other end of the field.) a team is like a car. it needs a driver. i agree with ryan, guys like berhalter are showing the world every week that you can compete in this league on a modest budget (like pablo did in his best years with the rapids). so hope the rapids can take a good hard look at themselves and do whatever is necessary to fix it (cuz it ain’t workin’!)

  6. Hey Ryan, I think you could write two articles in one just add in the headline “woeful rapids AND quakes” and you’d hit the nail in the head. My beloved earthquakes are a F*%#g mess also….I get it that MLS isn’t la liga, premiership, Bundesliga etc. but it’s also not the same league it was even 3-5 yrs ago. It’s growing at a rapid pace and with the incoming players getting much better you can’t just rely on avg players anymore. It’s also no surprise that none of these two teams have done anything with homegrown players….

    • “Hey Ryan, I think you could write two articles in one just add in the headline “woeful rapids AND quakes” and you’d hit the nail in the head.”
      haha it’s funny! +1


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