The season is over and the Colorado Rapids are still sore from the injury-rattled regular season that left them knocked out in the conference Semi-finals by Sporting Kansas City. They've so far lost coach Gary Smith and one of their only growing young players in winger/forward Sanna Nyassi, with possibly more losses on the horizon. The Rapids are close to turmoil currently, especially since losing the man who created the defense heavy roster we've currently got.
Either way, the Rapids have problems on the roster no matter what kind of coach they decide to pick up. Despite the fact that the club has shown time and time again that it's unwilling to pony up the money for good transfers, this is the list of players that the Rapids will need to add to the club in order to get themselves back into a state where they can contend in 2012.
* Pure Attacking Central Midfielder - This is a type of player that I myself have been saying we didn't need for a good long while, but it's one that is immediately an area of need without Gary Smith at the helm. Gary's style of play necessitated two holding midfielders in the center and defensive wingers who were more about whinging the ball into the box toward the strikers than creating offensive plays through their own feet. Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz worked incredibly well in the center defending together, but there's probably going to be a need for some offense from our future new manager. Unfortunately, the only player we have with Sanna Nyassi now gone that could possibly work in that role is Jamie Smith. Smith is over 30 years old now and his injury history is starting to go from 'troubling' to 'really concerning'. Especially with the irreplaceable Mastroeni likely retiring either this year or next, having a playmaker in the center next to Larentowicz could be quite important in coming years.
* Attacking Wingers - Similar to the ACM that we need, it'd be nice to have some AM's in general. Past Jamie Smith, the pure wing options on this team without Nyassi are now Brian Mullan and Wells Thompson. All the other possible wing options are players out of position like Kosuke Kimura or Omar Cummings. Eddie Ababio might become a good winger in time though his position is right back, but we can't be sure yet. It's obvious that the wings need some straight up depth to begin with, and some of that needs to replace the offensive flair of Nyassi.
* Depth Defenders - This is a general but important one. Every position on the Rapids is currently two men deep with decent quality. Even then, that only counts if you put Eddie Ababio in at right back, a position that he wasn't being trained to play under Gary Smith. Left back looks promising with Anthony Wallace and Miguel Comminges and Marvell Wynne/Drew Moor are still fantastic in the center, but only have the rapidly aging Tyrone Marshall behind them. Kosuke Kimura is of course the starting right back with Ababio (?) behind him but not even a terrible backup past that. After that core group of starters - especially at center back - the depth is lacking a bit. Call me paranoid because of this year's injury spat but I'd hate to be in a position where Mike Holody and Danny Earls are starting games.
* Reliable Bench Strikers - The Colorado Rapids have a handful of good strikers. Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Andre Akpan and Macoumba Kandji have all showed that they can be reliable starters in Major League Soccer, while even a guy like Caleb Folan has shown potential to be a threat on the rare occasions he gets hot. The problem is that the Rapids simply don't seem to have a great off the bench guy for late in games when the stakes are high and the goals need to be banged in. Guys like Drew Moor seemed to score all of the Rapids late game goals on the rare occasion that they pulled out a late win, after all. The Rapids need a guy that can be an X-factor for them late, think 2001 Dwayne De Rosario style.
That's my four wishlist items, any other specific player archetypes that you guys think need to be picked up in order to move this team back into contention?