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Ten Keys to the Season #4 - Midfield Gelling

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With only three days remaining until first kick, Burgundy Wave is going to do a countdown of the ten most important things to watch on the Colorado Rapids in 2012 if they want to get themselves a run at their second MLS Cup

Anyone out there play Football Manager? I'll tell you a story about the first time I played it -- it was FM 2010 and I was playing as Crystal Palace. After buying a couple of players and looking up some pretty cool tactics, I was able to push my way to a victory up in the playoffs from the Championship after two years. When I got to the Premier League, I suddenly got a boatload of extra transfer money to spend. Naturally, I told them that I was going to try for a really high league position despite barely scraping my way out of the Championship and was given around 40 million dollars of allocation money transfer funds to do so.

Long story short, I ended up buying around seven brand spanking new offensive players using every penny of that 40 mill to try and push my mediocre Championship side into EPL contention. It didn't work, all of the players lacked chemistry with each other and despite having quite a bit of talent, I ended up in 15th place because the team just didn't gel with so many new players playing in a system they'd never done before.

Why did I tell you this story? Well, it's my biggest fear of what could go wrong for the Rapids in 2012, even over another giant injury bug.

The midfield for the Rapids is brand new and playing in a brand new system that features three essential midfielders and two 'strikers' who play wide out as kind of striker/winger hybrids almost - thus why we're seeing guys like Brian Mullan and Wells Thompson getting time out there at 'striker' during the preseason. It's an interesting new system that looks like it can have lethal potential if it works, but it's full of new faces. Tony Cascio, Jaime Castrillon and Martin Rivero are all looking to get tons of minutes in the midfield in 2012, but can they all fit in and contribute immediately?

There's something to be said for team chemistry, and it may take the Rapids a bit of time to catch up to themselves. With the Western Conference as stacked as it is, they can't afford to take too long.