Bart Young/Colorado Rapids
Shane O'Neill might play center back next year, but there should be at least one more central defender signed this off-season.
For my money, the most interesting tidbit that we got out of my talk with Paul Bravo after the draft was that Shane O'Neill was being considered for a center back role. Originally a forward in his youth and college days, O'Neill was brought in by the Rapids on a homegrown contract last season and shifted to a defensive midfield role, one that he played very well when he got on the field against Swansea City and the Houston Dynamo later in the year.
He has been used as a center back before, getting most of his call-ups to the U-20 National Team in that role. He has the build and the skills on the ball to be an effective possession guy out of the back as well, though I'm not sold on his defensive ability only because I have never actually seen him play the role. (Given how well he slotted into the holding midfielder position, I won't say I would be surprised if he takes to the CB spot just as well.)
Shane was brought up when I asked Bravo about the reasoning for not taking a center back in the draft, when several were available to him. (Walker Zimmerman being the big name, and Eriq Zavaleta being another option if they liked what they saw at the combine.) He is apparently not as concerned as some people are about the depth chart right now in the back, Shane being one of the reasons.
If you stick O'Neill into the depth chart, it does look quite a bit better. Let's take a gander at everyone who can play every position:
Yeah, having guys like Moor and Klute that can play just about every position in the back helps out that depth chart quite a bit. You'll notice one thing though: while the Rapids are five deep in both of the wing back positions, we're also only five deep at center back. Not only are the Rapids only five deep, but every single one of the players who can play center back (except O'Neill) are in one of the other lists as well.
Having one more true center back, of the Julien Baudet type ideally, is pretty much a necessity to avoid the same injury problems that the team had last year. Versatility is good, but having a really great central defender that you can stick in will be a lot more helpful than putting in a guy who can play all three spots in the back, but might not be at his best in the center.
Fortunately, it looks like Oscar Pareja knows that the work isn't quite done yet:
Pareja said #Rapids are still looking for one more center back.— Chris Bianchi (@Rapids_News) January 21, 2013