The starting XI for 2014 was always going to be up in the air after Oscar Pareja left, and preseason performances might end up having a big part in who ends up suiting up when the Rapids get their first match of the season in March. One name that has come slightly out of left field, but is still not much of a surprise, is Dillon Serna.
There was a lot to be gained in this preseason, and almost nobody has given themselves a better advertisement than Colorado's most recent homegrown signing. He got his first appearance in the first team at the end of last season and had been impressing people in reserve league matches all year long in 2013, but it was not a guarantee that he would be seeing much playing time this year even after Pareja talked him up at the start of the off-season. With Pareja gone, his chances appeared to be in his own hands.
Serna has responded with two preseason goals and a handful of preseason assists. Deshorn Brown has also impressed us in preseason, but we knew that he would be getting time this year after his fantastic rookie campaign. Serna might give Pablo Mastroeni, or whoever else is in charge of the Rapids come March, something to think about when putting together his starting XI.
Who would he knock out of the starting lineup that we expected to see? Gabriel Torres and Brown are probably locks for starting spots -- after all, Brown was the team's leading scorer last year and had a great preseason, and Torres is the team's DP, a type of player you just can't leave on the bench without drawing ire. Serna obviously can't play center forward and knock one of those two to the wing. If Dillon Powers is healthy, there's almost no chance he doesn't retake the central attacking spot in the midfield after his Rookie of the Year campaign.
That means he would be knocking a guy like Charles Eloundou, Marvin Chavez or, more impressively, Vicente Sanchez out of the spot if he were to earn a chance as a starter. There's obviously no guarantee that Pablo/mystery coach will see knocking one of those guys out of the XI in favor of Serna as a good idea, and preseason points are never quite as impressive as ones earned in prime time. If it happens though, it certainly wouldn't be a bad vote of confidence for the homegrown man.
And hey, the depth on the attack for this year looks mighty good when you think about it like that, eh?