Kamani Hill Finally Fits Tactically With The Colorado Rapids

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Why is Kamani Hill finally getting minutes after being a forgotten man in 2013? It may be because the Rapids finally have a system where he can be of real use.

Yesterday, the Rapids put out a post about Kamani Hill taking advantage of the opportunity that Pablo Mastroeni has given him. He already has more starts and minutes than he got all of last season, and has found the back of the twine for the first time since he scored against Chivas USA in October of 2012.

Hill has had his fans ever since the Rapids picked him up, with some early flash giving the Rapids a couple of goals during the drought of a season that was 2012. We saw immediately that he was a good finisher and a very technical player, smart with the ball at his feet, good at the short pass and able to work the ball around in tight spaces. As Oscar Pareja's evolved, Kamani's skill-set suddenly became a hindrance to him instead of a strength. Some pegged Oscar Pareja's doghouse as a reason for Kamani not being given much of a shout in 2013; I think it was a tactical problem.

There was simply nowhere for Kamani to go in the 4-2-3-1 that Oscar ran for the majority of the 2013 season. He was a forward when he arrived, but Pareja wanted his forwards to be either very pacy (Deshorn Brown, Gaby Torres) or strong (Atiba Harris, Edson Buddle), because his offense relied on his three forwards either blowing by defenders to make numbers advantages or holding the ball up to allow time for the midfielders and fullbacks to flood forward as well. As the quintessential 'technical guy', Kamani couldn't find a spot there. He's neither particularly fast nor particularly strong.

Pareja did give him a shout at the top of the midfield once or twice, but both Dillon Powers and, later, Vicente Sanchez did the job better than Kamani as a central attacking midfielder, and there were no real wingers in Pareja's system. Add all that up and you had zero open spaces.

Enter Pablo Mastroeni and his changes to the Rapids tactics, and Kamani has found himself with a spot again. Pablo has put less regard into attacking with straight up speed, and instead focused on the technical guys like Dillon Serna getting more playing time. His latest move to a flat 4-4-2 instead of a diamond has helped that even more, as width has continued to be Colorado's greatest asset with their good fullbacks and winger-types. Kamani may have started as a forward, but his abilities have shown just as well as a winger. A series of strong starts have him right in the starting equation for the Rapids, and it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve more time now.

His goal against Montreal was really just icing on the cake. Welcome back, Kamani.

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