The Rapids Thugcast returned yesterday, so how about another triumphant return? The Scott Palguta Memorial Depth Meter is back! I will preface this by saying that I'm likely being a bit too pessimistic in this regard, and when I do another one of these in a few months it will hopefully give better numbers as we see some of the back-up guys in action. I would also like to mention that I go into this thinking that the Rapids do have one of the best potential starting XIs in MLS; this simply covers the depth behind them.
For the uninitiated, the Palguta Meter measures the amount of depth available on the team before we start to see horribly below average replacement players like Scott Palguta making the team. A Palguta Level of 1 is ideal, while a level 4 means we've hit peak Palguta! (Now renamed the Memorial Depth Meter following Palguta's release from the team. RIP in peace!)
It's hard to know what to think of the defense on this team. If Shane O'Neill and Marvell Wynne had not switched position, I would feel a lot better with this unit. Wynne is better at right back because of his lesser defensive capabilities, and I (along with a lot of other people) feel Shane's future is at center back for the opposite reason. The loss of Diego Calderon has effectively stripped away the best back-up option at center back otherwise. The second line of depth on this back-line contains intriguing options in Grant van de Casteele and Marc Burch, but there are very few guys that I would want to start 20 games.
Losing Hendry Thomas was a bit of a blow to the squad simply because there is still nobody who can fully replace him on the team. Jose Mari is unproven, and past him we have a couple of MLS journeymen (Nathan Sturgis, Nick Labrocca) and some youth (Jared Watts, possibly Shane O'Neill). Since the Rapids' game is dependent on good performances from the defensive midfield, this could be a potential question mark. On the attacking side of the midfield, things are a bit rosier, but still potentially problematic if Dillon Powers goes down. Without Powers, just about everyone else who can be played in the spot is either out of position in some way -- Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Serna and Gabriel Torres are all better deployed on the wing -- or are Marlon Hairston, who is unlikely to be ready for a starting role so soon. A few injuries could knock this team's midfield out.
This is easily the best part of the squad, at least on paper. There are at least two full levels of depth in the attack and I would be perfectly fine seeing starting attack of Serna-Buddle-Chavez or Brown-Torres-Sanchez. The question is if they can translate that ability into goals, but this is only a measure of how good the depth appears, and it's easily the best on the Rapids.