MLS Wheeling & Dealing Has Begun, Will The Rapids Join In?

Doug Pensinger

MLS teams have started with the big trades early in the off-season, who do the Rapids have that they could move around the league? I'd argue that there are two very tradable players on this team right now...

The moves have started up very early in the MLS off-season. Only a day after the MLS Cup was handed out and the dust settled on a long 2012 season, we've already seen some trades. The Portland Timbers have been the biggest name on the market early, with several trades including one that sent Kosuke Kimura to the New York Red Bulls. (Sorry, Kosuke!)

In addition to the already confirmed moves, the Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake have also had streams of rumors start flowing regarding cleaning their houses. This looks like it will be one of the busiest winters in quite some time around the league as over half the teams in the league, including some of the better sides, will be looking to clean house a bit. Heck, even the MLS Cup champions two years running are looking like they'll be moving a lot of staff around before 2013 starts.

One team that has been quiet through the first day has been the Colorado Rapids, and really there haven't been many player swap rumors in quite some time. Even the trades that happened during the season were mostly for money, international slots and draft picks. Now, we know that they'll be picking up someone from outside the league during the off-season, it's a near guarantee unless they can pull off something spectacular in the trade market. The question is if they'll be attempting to make a move inside the league.

Do the Rapids have anyone worth trading in the off-season for more than just straight up cash and intangibles? I'd argue that they have two: Omar Cummings and Jeff Larentowicz.

Both of them are guys who looked uninspired at times under Oscar Pareja in 2012, with Jeff Larentowicz's game suffering mightily in the pivot role of the favored 4-3-3 formation. If Pareja returns to the 4-3-3 next season, and there's really nothing we've heard that suggests that he won't, Larentowicz will almost certainly be on the outside looking in with Hendry Thomas now on the squad and rumors of a return for Pablo Mastroeni. He looks like a guy who had a bad year but has a good history, and the Rapids could potentially get a lot for him -- a great defensive midfielder in his prime can be hard to find sometimes.

On the same train is Omar Cummings, though he has had two bad years in a row after one good season and one great season. He's shown the ability, but without Conor Casey (in Gary Smith's system) and as a center forward most of the time (in Oscar Pareja's) he has faltered, with only nine goals in the past two years combined. Still, his big 2010 year got a lot of attention, and I still get asked to this day why he's not an MVP candidate.

And before anyone says that Omar has no trade value, I must remind you that this is the team that got Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson for Cory Gibbs and Preston Burpo. 'Trade value' means different things in MLS than it does elsewhere, and there's a long history in sports of players that used to be good getting traded to new teams, hoping that a 'change of scenery' will get them back into old form. Personally, I don't see that happening with Omar, but perhaps a team like Chivas might. (Indeed, I called for that exact scenario about a month ago.)

There are certainly some other guys who would make interesting names in the trade discussion, but most of them are young. Andre Akpan could probably fetch something on the market, but it would be nothing substantial. Tony Cascio looked like a veteran at times in his first year and would probably get some interest, but he's not polished enough to earn anything worthwhile.

If there's gonna be a trade, it's going to likely be for a veteran. Perhaps you can throw Marvell Wynne into the mix, but he could still have an intriguing future with the club if they moved him back to right back. (But that's another story!) I'd hate to feel left out of what is going to be a crazed trade market this off-season, wouldn't you?

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