After a trade and the expansion draft, the Colorado Rapids have escaped relatively unscathed minus a glaring two holes; left back and defensive depth.
Through protection, the basic core of the team that won the cup less than a week ago is still intact. Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz still will anchor the midfield with Brian Mullan, Wells Thompson and Jamie Smith on the outside. Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are still available to roam up top. Even the defense is still in pretty good shape, keeping ironmen Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne with Kosuke Kimura on the outside.
Past those three, the defensive depth leaves quite a bit to be desired. A trade of Danny Earls and Julien Baudet for Peter Vagenas to the Seattle Sounders left only Scott Palguta and Anthony Wallace to take the left-back position. Wallace was then quickly snapped up from Colorado when left unprotected in the expansion draft. Unfortunately, Scott Palguta - while not being a horrible man off the bench in case of injury, certainly better than Earls was - is not going to be the starter if the team intends to have a shot at winning another trophy of any sort next season.
Obviously, the first order of business for Colorado is going to be to snag some defense via trades, pick ups or the Superdraft. With several picks in the Superdraft along with all the extra money the Rapids will get from the inevitable attendance boost and a CCL slot, this won't be a very hard task to accomplish. Gary Smith and Jeff Plush in their player pickups so far since taking over the franchise have had great success with their talent scouting. I trust them to find at the very least another starting caliber left back and one or two defensive additions for depth, perhaps even spending some of that extra cash on the franchises first Designated Player for the defensive hole now opened.
The only other questionable area in the offseason that could be covered is at outside midfielder. Brian Mullan's age appeared to catch up to him during a mediocre appearance in the MLS Cup final. Jamie Smith and Wells Thompson certainly are both solid on the outside, but I question if simply being solid is what this team needs. There are certainly better men at service than Jamie Smith who don't have the horrible streaky-ness that Smith has shown this season.
There aren't many needs for this team, but lets hope that Smith and Plush get going quickly to patch the few cracks in the framework that the offseason has so far provided.