Sunday Night the Rapids played Chivas USA without starting forwards Edson Buddle and Atiba Harris because of injuries they suffered against Real Salt Lake the week prior. Instead the Rapids used Tony Cascio and Jaime Castrillon in their places. The only thing that can be said about Sunday nights games is that the Rapids played an ugly game and missed the chance to keep pace with RSL.
Edson Buddle and Atiba Harris have had there many detractors amongst the Rapids faithful this year. When Buddle came to the Rapids in December, through a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy, many Rapids fans were happy because they Rapids looked to have gotten a proven goal scorer. There were some fans that were not happy however. Those fans brought up how Buddle had at one point a couple years ago called the Rapids a joke of a team. Atiba Harris has had a rough going with fans this year as well. Harris came to the Rapids as a journeyman who hasn't been able to catch on with any team. And while Harris is the second leading goal scorer on the Rapids right now; fans have been calling for him to not play for a long time.
What I saw Sunday night however, leads me to the conclusion that Edson Buddle and Atiba Harris are more important to this team than anyone actually realizes. While Buddle has not lived up to the hope that fans had that he would be an electric goal scorer, he has done a lot of things that fans have yet to recognize. When Buddle is on the field he draws defenders to him which opens up space for Deshorn Brown and Atiba Harris to score goals. Buddle is and has not been 100% healthy, but when a player of his caliber can give you 65-70 solid minutes you need him on the pitch.
Atiba Harris is the second leading scorer for the Rapids this season with five goals. One out of every three shots he takes is on goal. Granted his overall play has slipped over the last few games, but his presence on the wing has helped to keep defenders out of the middle of the field.
The Rapids went out and signed Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres last week. These signings brought great enthusiasm to the Rapids faithful. But it also brought a lot of unwarranted scorn for Buddle and Harris. While Torres is definitely a starter for the Rapids, to automatically discount Buddle and relegate him to the bench is a little short sighted. Buddle could help Brown and Torres immensely with his presence. That is of course if Deshorn Brown is the man to stay in the starting XI. With Brown looking like the rookie wall is standing in front of him, it might be best to let him come of the bench for a few games. Whether this means Sanchez starts or Harris starts remains to be seen.
In either case fans should take a hard look at the performances of Buddle and Harris before they are thrown out with the bathwater. I know new is usually better for most people, but before any hard and fast opinions are made lets see what the new players actually bring to the Rapids.