The Daily Wave is a slice of opinion from a Burgundy Wave contributor, released every weekday morning.
Commerce City, full of hustle and bustle as an off-season progressed. Unexpected moves, both scary, and promising occurred. Questions left unanswered, that lingered in the air like falling ashes, and questions that only time would answer.
This season was and still is one full of promise. Promise that could fulfill my wildest hopes, or dash them to a 2013 oblivion. If I were a new soccer fan, I could guess that the Rapids were a brand new expansion team this season, and I wouldn't be far off. The identity of the Cup winning Colorado Rapids are a distant memory, never to be seen or heard from again except in the books of the Rapids and MLS history.
This off-season felt as though a hurricane has blown through our lovely state leaving us with an unidentifiable team. The Rapids were committed to new style and personnel, one that fits an Oscar Pareja system. And with all of these changes, it left us dazed and confused, and with a headache the size of Jupiter attempting to guess the 2013 starting lineup.
Two games deep into the 2013 MLS Season, and the wonder is gone. We have seen the Rapids on the pitch, with a consistent lineup. We have an identity, it's the Young Guns. Our team had an average age of 29.4 in 2012, and in one single off-season swoop, dropped that number to 25.3.
Now that I've thrown a stat at you, which is never my focus, we can delve into the identity we've seen in the first two games. The 2013 Rapids are a blur on the field, with a play style we haven't seen in years. Their strength being attack attack attack, and pray that turnovers don't exist and counter strikes don't happen. The Rapids have held the ball for over 60% of the time in their first two games. Obviously, that's not enough as they go into week three with a resounding 0-2-0 record. A team with young, active, full throttle, guns a-blazin players seem to have the same issue as the older reserved veterans of 2012, and that is their lack of ability to finish. The style is different, the play is different, the formations are different, the players are different, but similar problems remain like a rock in a river.
I will grant the 2013 Rapids that cohesion has yet to bind itself to this young team, and I think the hope is that when it does, these problems will resolve themselves. The young players, or young talent I should call them does bring us one step closer to overcoming these obstacles.
With Harbottle, Brown, and Harris up top and the rookie box to box midfielder Dillon Powers moving the world beneath him as he seems to be everywhere, our determination to find the net has seemingly increased by a large margin from 2012. Again, with these young players, cohesion seems to be the factor that has yet to be acquired. As the veterans slowly disappear over the horizon, these players are the future of our team, and in my opinion, a good one. Long passes, connecting corner kicks, winning headers in the box, and taking shots from outside the 18 are prevalent in the Rapids' revamped style. It can only be a matter of time before the young guns make our 2012 problems a distant memory. At least we can hope.
Focusing more on the team and its roster, the Rapids have 13 new players this season, most of which are young, or new to the MLS. (Atiba Harris, Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown, Kevin Harbottle, Nathan Sturgis, Kory Kindle, Danny Mwanga, Charles Eloundou, Edson Buddle, Clint Irwin, Dillon Serna, Nick LaBrocca, and Diego Calderon) (that's one long list). That's unheard of, but the more and more this topic is discussed, the more and more I believe it was a necessity. I can say, after watching the start of 2013, that the system of 2011 and the hybrid system of 2012 is finally dead, and we should hand the reigns over to the young guns. They are our future.