You know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. I'm not referring to soccer wins and losses in this context (if I was, it'd be 'you lose some, and then you lose some more') but rather the adaptability of youngsters. Last season, the Rapids won big time. They got two of their biggest points-getters right from the draft in 2013, with Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown both kicking things off incredibly well. Add in the emergence of Chris Klute, Shane O'Neill and Clint Irwin and you had yourself one of the best youth shows any MLS team had ever seen.
And then you lose some, like the Rapids have in 2014. Sure, Dillon Serna has taken the world by storm (though he isn't a rookie and we kind of expected him to be awesome) and Marlon Hairston has looked like a great prospect for the future, there hasn't been much of a step-up anywhere else on the roster, and the very youth-filled depth of the team has suffered immensely as a result. Charles Eloundou has done essentially nothing but flash a bit of speed and flair in his few appearances and John Neeskens has been a no-show. Then there's the draft picks other than Hairston. John Berner got a few appearances and looked all right, but we're not concerned about him.
Jared Watts has come under a lot of fire from Rapids fans this season who had heard the hype and expected him to be able to step right into an MLS roster like everyone last year did. Instead, we got a lot of rookie mistakes from a rookie playing one of the hardest positions on the field. It's been a trial by fire, and he's gotten a lot more minutes than I think a lot of people were hoping he'd get. Well, Drew Moor is down, Shane O'Neill is down and now Watts is down.
We're back to next man up, and barring a surprise appearance from Gale Agbossumonde, it looks like it's time for Grant van de Casteele to get his trial by fire. With the season winding down the way it clearly seems to be doing -- come on, you really think playoffs are at all possible at this point? -- trials by fire may be painful, but they're a good way to get a youngster used to the magic of MLS really, really quickly. I expect Jared Watts to be a pretty solid player in the next few years, and I expect the same from VDC. Some early knocks won't hurt growth at all.