Is Buddle the missing link the Rapids need to spark wins?
The transformation the Rapids have undergone this offseason is one that no one will forget. Nowhere in the short pages of the Rapids history has anything like this recorded. Few teams around the world, of any sport, can claim such a large reconstruction in such a short amount of time, both of style of play, and personnel.
Like the game of chess, many of these pieces have yet to move, waiting for the time to strike, (no pun intended), waiting on the back line for an opening to take the opponent by surprise. One such piece is the highly anticipated arrival of Edson Buddle. The center striker is one of the first the Rapids acquired in their busy perennial break. Three games deep into the 2013 season, and the Rapids are what feels like 0-3-0. Though it is too early for fan morale to dwindle and break, it may be time to see a change in the surprisingly consistent lineup, one player in particular. This season has already shown significant differences from 2012 with an ever changing lineup, 2013 has been contrarily different with extremely similar lineups in all three games, the first two being exactly the same.
Fans have watched with excitement at the breakaway speed of Deshorn Brown who has shown us many scoring chances, all but one to no avail. He has shown that he is a true striker who is able to get behind defenses and attempt finishes. But he may be alone on the pitch. That is, until Edson Buddle decides he's healthy enough to play. Atiba Harris, Kevin Harbottle, and Tony Cascio have all played the "striker" position in the 4-3-3 formation, but seemingly as midfielders leaving Brown, a rookie, alone in the box. Other than shots from outside of the 18, he has been the only player to be a constant threat near goal, an easy target for defensive players to surround and smother.
Brown has proven that he is a starter on the Rapids roster, but he needs help. He is fed the ball over and over, but he cannot do this alone. Even teams that play a formation like 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 or something similar have players that push forward into the box. Teams like Manchester United who always seem to play a X-X-1 style formation have striker type players that help relieve pressure on elite strikers like Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Edson Buddle could be the answer to our finishing problems. For me, the Rapids problem is that they have one threat in the box, which is easy to shut down. Buddle is a proven goal scorer, an automatic threat on the pitch that has to be accounted for. This would relieve pressure off of Brown and give the midfielders like Harbottle and Dillon Powers another man to feed the ball to. This may not answer the counter attack problems the Rapids always endure, but that is another article for another time. But it may help answer the Rapids finishing issues they've had over the past 2 seasons. Look for the goal differential to move in the way of Colorado once the man known as Buddle puts his cleats into the ground.