When you think of the most influential players in Colorado Rapids history, names like Marcelo Balboa, John Spencer, Pablo Mastroeni, Marcus Hahnemann, Chris Henderson, Conor Casey, Paul Bravo, and Omar Cummings leap to mind. If you dig deeper, guys like David Patiño, Anders Limpar, Peter Vermes, Matt Pickens, Carlos Valderrama, and Jeff Larentowicz have all positively impacted the team as well. Add to that list: Graham Zusi?
It's way premature, but watching Gabriel Torres' MLS Player of the Week performance on Saturday, one that essentially wrapped up a Rapids playoff berth, has Rapids fans feeling good about the Panamanian's future. His play for Panama over the past year has been amazing at times, but until this weekend we hadn't seen him look comfortable in a Rapids uniform yet. Where Zusi comes in has a lot to do with that Rapids jersey, specifically with keeping Torres in one. Zusi's stoppage time goal for the USA in Panama kept Torres from a chance to play in Brazil next summer. The way he has played for Panama in 2013, it's not too big a stretch to imagine that he might have been a breakout player in the World Cup, and European clubs would not have been far behind.
But thanks to Zusi, Torres will have to wait four more years for his shot at major international competition. And in the meantime, hopefully the Rapids have a few extra years of watching him play like he did this weekend, scoring goals and wearing burgundy. Thanks Graham!