Wells Thompson appears to be on his way out of the Colorado Rapids. The moment he leaves, the #RapidsThugLife is gonna go with him. Gary Smith's old school, hard nosed style of soccer has slowly but surely been turning into more passing oriented 'sexy football' under Oscar Pareja, but keeping the majority of Smith's old squad around kept the #RapidsThugLife around as well.
Sure, the passing numbers were up and the goals were coming more from the midfield finesse and less from Conor Casey beating the crap out of people, but you could still count on Wells to tear someone down after losing the ball or Tyrone Marshall to, uh... tear someone down after losing the ball.
Now, Wells is probably gonna be gone by the end of the day, if the rumors are to be believed. He was one of the few guys left on the squad who played a high-energy, non-stop game to make up for a slight lack of actual footballing ability. That was really what Gary Smith was all about, keeping the energy level tops at all times and getting the ball back from the opponent at all times.
For Gary Smith, a guy like Wells was a necessity -- though Brian Mullan eventually came in and played that role better -- and for Oscar Pareja, a guy like Wells is just a third string defensive midfielder. Not even a particularly good fit for his squad at third string defensive midfielder either, which is why he was getting no playing time
Hendry Thomas being brought in shows what they're going for now. He provides the same sort of defensive acumen as Wells, but with a much cleaner ring to it. The man can put together a hell of a slide tackle and get all-ball almost every time, and he adds to it a wonderfully polished passing game. Joseph Nane is the same way, though obviously with a fairly large talent gap. Nane plays a more finesse game than 'run up to the guy, smack him down and get the ball'.
Essentially, Colorado is trying to stockpile more Pablo Mastroeni type midfielders if they're going to get guys to hold down the center of the park, not more of the hard-nosed Jeff Larentowicz types that Gary Smith preferred to load his team with.
Rapids Thug Life has always been a coy little joke among Rapids fans, but any real semblances of it that were actually with the team appear to be on the way out. Brian Mullan is still around, but has completely transformed his game under Pareja. Conor Casey is hardly seeing any minutes anymore because of the nagging injury problems that have haunted him all season. Tyrone Marshall is probably not a viable player anymore simply due to his age. Say goodnight, #RapidsThugLife, we might not see you for much longer.