The Daily Wave: Time To Maximize Chris Klute

USA TODAY Sports

Chris Klute is a budding star, and it's time the Colorado Rapids take advantage of this by giving him a left-sided midfielder/wing who can effectively combine with him.

The list of game-changing left backs who have played for the Colorado Rapids is short--in fact I'm not even sure there is a list. Anthony Wallace had a few moments; Jordan Harvey had potential; Jason Bent was solid for a couple years; Ritchie Kotschau filled in there at times. But not until this season, with Chris Klute's rampaging runs up and down the left, have the Rapids had a player in that position who scares other teams. It's time the Rapids take advantage of his ability by shuffling the lineup in front of him.

Klute's willingness to get forward (and back) and his ability on both ends of the field remind me of Everton's Leighton Baines. He's not yet to Baines' level, but the building blocks are there. He has decent skill, crosses with either foot, and has the desire and work-rate to be involved in every play, on offense or defense. And his impressive speed more than makes up for his developing skill set. He is a potential game-changer, and it's time the Rapids built more of the offense around him.

The blueprint for this has been laid down by Everton. The Toffees have maximized Baines' ability by playing him alongside Steven Pienaar on the left side. Pienaar is skilled, hard-working, and has the understanding and mindset to combine well with Baines whenever Baines comes forward (which is most of the time). Pienaar has the talent to create his own chances, but he recognizes that defenses are overwhelmed with Baines' overlapping runs, and he and Baines work so well together that at times look like they're toying with the opposing defenses. Combining in attack makes them both more dangerous players.

The Rapids have lately chosen to play Deshorn Brown on the left wing in front of Klute. Brown has proven to be dangerous going forward because of his pace and willingness to shoot. But he rarely combines with any teammates on a break, nevermind one who is further from the goal than he is. He's a shoot-first wing player, and therefore the forward-rushing Klute becomes at best a decoy for Brown to cut inside and launch a long shot.

Klute could be much more. If the Rapids were to play a more tactical and patient left wing, one with the ball-skill to combine effectively with Klute, opposing teams would have major headaches. Whether it's Martin Rivero, Kevin Harbottle, Nick LaBrocca, or the forgotten Kamani Hill, the Rapids have good options to fill the Pienaar role. It's time they make this adjustment to take advantage of the rare talent they have in Klute.

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