After numerous reports earlier in the summer indicated that the Rapids were shopping around in Central and South America for one or two difference makers, the Front Office has changed their tune in recent weeks. Following a trade with Chivas USA that saw Carlos Alvarez come in for Nathan Sturgis, reports now claim that the Rapids might just sit tight.
Will they change their minds after last week? They should. Here's why:
Despite controlling the entire second half and being a man up against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, the Rapids failed to break through their opponents' staunch back line. While RSL benefitted from the tremendous heroics of Nat Borchers, it just didn't feel good enough from the Rapids. It certainly wasn't enough on paper either as Colorado had 22 shots with only six of them on frame. RSL had six total and managed to put one away, and that's all they needed.
With a return to almost-full health, the Rapids played Sanchez, Powers, Brown, and Torres for the first time in weeks; however, the offensive punch was still lacking. Brown returned to his misfiring ways, while at times it looked like Sanchez was going to have to do everything himself.
Some fans will be more worried about the defense letting in nine goals in the last five games (yikes!), but this defense can also be as stout as any in the league. (Note: check out Purple Rox's article last week if you haven't. Explains the defensive woes nicely.) How many offensive players do the Rapids have who play consistently well week-in and week-out? Sanchez. Maybe Powers? For a team that has more potential than a Tombstone remake, that just doesn't cut it.
One look at the Rapids' attacking corps sums it up: Brown is a tremendous talent who will be a great finisher one day, but hasn't gotten there yet. He may have missed two weeks because of a knock, but that doesn't excuse THIS. Torres could be incredible if not for his erratic deployment. Hill has gone dormant again. Buddle seems to be rapidly aging (no pun intended). Mwanga is... Mwanga. And Eloundou is in the stands somewhere wearing a striped red and white shirt with glasses and a toboggan. There's also Serna, who's been revelation, but you can only strike gold so many times.
Are they all in a rut, or does something need to change? I love the outlook of this team. I love that the Rapids are the young, up-and-coming squad. If your "depth" is defined by youth, however, you're usually walking a thin line. When smack in the middle of a playoff race with four other clubs, why would you forego the opportunity to get stronger?
Games like the one versus RSL last weekend are the games playoff teams win, or at least draw. The Rapids are missing that last key piece to the puzzle. As Richard Fleming pointed out, Sanchez can't do everything when others are misfiring. When others begin misfiring more frequently, games in the league of parity become that much harder to win.
Colorado don't need to rashly splash money on another Designated Player (although by DP standards the one they have isn't exactly a whale), but there's a cog absent from the machine. Sure, it will still produce fairly good products, but occasionally it just isn't up to standards. In order to find that consistency, the Rapids need to add that missing cog.