COMMERCE CITY, CO - AUGUST 5: Omar Cummings #14 of the Colorado Rapids celebrates his second half goal against the Columbus Crew with the fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on August 5, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated the Crew 2-0. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
With only a single day remaining until first kick, Burgundy Wave is going to do a countdown of the ten most important things to watch on the Colorado Rapids in 2012 if they want to get themselves a run at their second MLS Cup.
Let's be honest here, Omar Cummings did not have a great 2011 season. He scored 14 goals with Conor Casey by his side in 2010 and looked poised to continue, but when Casey left the picture, Cummings' form seemed to follow suit. That's not something that can happen again, and our favorite speedy Jamaican looked lost as he only managed nine points (three goals, six assists) in his 26 appearances.Up until last year, Cummings had been improving every single season since he joined the Rapids. He doesn't necessarily need to be better than he was in 2010 come this year - the fact that a glut of new offensive talent has been inserted into the team should mitigate that need, which was certainly a need last season under Gary Smith - but he's going to need to bang in a couple more than three. He also should focus on not being a liability, something that he very much unfortunately was in 2011 at times.
Under Oscar Pareja, Omar will probably have a lot more luck. The service to him is going to be better and he'll have to provide less service himself, something that he never really was all that good at. He won't be the 'expected playmaker' on the field like he was under Gary Smith, meaning he can pick his shots a lot better and perhaps get more than 10 shots on goal all season, his number from last year.
Even if Conor Casey never regains his old form (what's he going to lose, his speed?!) Omar is going to be the wildcard of 2012 for the offense. He's a guy that we saw grow into a great striker when paired with Casey's brute strength. Can he take his blazing speed and nose for goal and turn himself into a bona fide superstar on his own?