Until Conor Casey returns, can the Rapids shelf Omar Cummings for Andre Akpan?

March 10, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Andrew Akpan (19) controls the ball during the second half against the Columbus Crew at the Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Omar Cummings did not score an own goal and he also did not actively injure any one of his team mates. That's about the only two nice things that I can think to say about Omar after his putrid performance on Saturday against Real Salt Lake. The Colorado Rapids' leading scorer in 2010 has looked pretty mediocre in the top forward role this season, a role that he is clearly not suited for.

Omar's biggest assets, his speed and ability to finish from inside the 18 yard box, have been ineffective at the top while his weaknesses have all come to the forefront. He can't settle balls very well but also lacks great moves to get past defenders, which leads to passes coming toward the top where Omar is waiting - notice I say 'waiting' rather than running - followed by a quick turnover as Omar either loses the ball while trying to settle it down or gives it to a waiting back man.

It's clear that Omar can't play an isolated forward role - heck, we knew that last year - and with Conor Casey not in the lineup yet he needs to be replaced by someone else so he can shift back out to the side where his talents can be used to a better degree.

My answer to this problem, at least in the one game before Casey is slated to return? Andre Akpan.

Andre is obviously not the only striker on the team right now, with the depth actually looking fairly decent up top. He is my favorite prospect for taking Omar's job in the center for the next game though. Quincy Amarikwa is a striker in the same vein as Omar, speedy and elusive with an eye for goal but not too much actual skill when it comes to collecting the ball or keeping it in tough situations. He would probably suffer a similar fate to Omar if given such an isolated position.

Kamani Hill could also be an option, but his fitness is clearly not good enough to be playing more than a full half of football. Remember that interview he had right after the Chicago game? He basically said that he had played eight minutes and could barely breathe after that. Against Salt Lake, he was barely given 15 minutes even though his services were so badly needed. By the time we've got a Hill that can go for a full 90, Casey will probably be back and it won't be a problem.

That leaves Akpan unless Oscar Pareja decides to do something like put Tony Cascio in the center, not a move that I would be particularly disappointed in but I digress. Akpan has shown tons of growth in the past couple of seasons since being drafted by the Rapids before 2010. He recently scored two goals in a reserve game against the Fire and on a somewhat small forward corps (other than Casey) he's probably the biggest guy who could act as a target man up top.

Andre also has some of the best footwork on the team and has shown he can get past guys, along with a tendency to shoot from anywhere if an opportunity presents itself. If you've watched Omar the past couple of games, you'll know that those are two skills that have been exposed heavily as being liabilities in Cummings' game the past few showings.

I'm game for Andre starting up top with Cummings and Cascio flanking him on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders. Any other ideas for who could take over the spot?

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