VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 6: Bernardo Anor #7 of the Columbus Crew reacts to a missed opportunity in front of Michael Boxall #2 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during their MLS game July 6, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
A couple of days back, the Vancouver Whitecaps waived New Zealand international center back Michael Boxall. Naturally, I'm throwing his name out as a possible transfer target for the Colorado Rapids, still desperately in need of depth and, good young players at the center back position.
I've been a fan of Boxall's since back in 2011 when he was my selection in the SB Nation MLS mock draft. At that point, we still needed defensive depth and I figured the big guy would make a good Julien Baudet replacement. He put in some good minutes for the Whitecaps over his time there but their defensive improvements over the off season along with a bunch of new players brought in by Martin Renne saw him getting only reserve play this year before he was eventually released.
Most likely, the biggest argument against Boxall would be that he would take up an international slot, being from New Zealand, even though he would just be used mostly as a depth player. In fact, that's the reason why he slipped all the way to the Supplemental rounds of the 2011 draft, in the Kohei Yamada vein. (Again, as with any international transfer target, we're assuming that Jamie Smith will soon have his green card and will open a spot up.)
As I wrote in a comment on the Nesta article though, the United States doesn't have all that many great defensive prospects to spread around and Eddie Ababio is the only real solid defender in the dried up reserves and academy system. I doubt Scott Palguta would be getting so many minutes if there were all that many better options lying around for them to get before next season's draft. Unless they go for a big name trade to get a guy like Bobby Burling or someone like that, it's likely that they'll need to use an international slot to get another solid young prospect in the defensive ranks.
This is especially true if the Rapids want to bolster the system with good players instead of snatching older guys from outside to hold the line until they can draft more talent. Fakers Stink said it pretty well in that comments section; "Rapids need to focus on developing talent or getting developing talent in the back 4, not chasing long shot solutions. Looking outside for yet another stopgap isn't the answer."
The question is, of course, do the Rapids find Boxall as intriguing a young player as so many analysts and scouts did in 2011?