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Who will the Rapids Keep For 2016?

MLS rosters must be finalized by December 10. Who will the Rapids keep? Here's my best guess.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Since a lot of MLS clubs are announcing their roster moves this week - so far we've seen about half the teams in the league announce - I thought I'd give my predictions about who our beloved Colorado Rapids would jettison before the December 10 Re-Entry Draft deadline.

Mind you, this is a pretty uneducated guess: MLS clubs don't disclose contract terms at all. Some of the players I might speculate to be dropped may actually be on 2 or 3 year deals. Usually, though, it seems most fringy MLS players are on 1 or 2 year deals with a club option to renew. Here's my best guess, based on their performance and minutes this year, their age, and their salary.

Definitely In:

John Berner

Bobby Burling

Kevin Doyle

Maynor Figueroa

Clint Irwin

Drew Moor

Lucas Pittinari

Axel Sjoberg

Sean St. Ledger

Why?

Doyle, St Ledger and Figueroa came mid-season and haven't fully had the chance to shine. The Rapids certainly give them a full MLS year to show their stuff. Burling and Moor are useful defensive cogs, whether they start next year or not, and as veterans, can certainly aid the young pups on the back line. Sjoberg was a first round pick and showed a lot of promise. Lucas Pittinari was already mentioned as coming back in a report, I think from the Post's Daniel Boniface last month. With MacMath gone, it's probably time to let John Berner get a shot as Clint Irwin's backup. And I think if the earth stopped revolving and the world entered cataclysm, I'd still expect to see Clint Irwin between the pipes in March.

Probably In:

Dominique Badji

Sam Cronin

Joseph Greenspan

Marlon Hairston

Dillon Powers

Juan Ramirez

Marcelo Sarvas

Vicente Sanchez

Gabriel Torres

Jared Watts

Why?

Badji, Greenspan, Watts and Hairston are all young and relatively cheap. Any one, or all four, could evolve into MLS starters if things line up right for them. Cronin and Sanchez were both very good last year. Cronin will be 29 years old, and can still probably start as a defensive mid for the Rapids. Sanchez is getting up there at age 36, but probably wants one last spin on the carousel. Ramirez is blazingly fast, but prone to falling over, shooting off target, or forgetting to pass. If he can get a little better at one or two of those things, he'll become an actual soccer player that can legitimately make the Rapids a better team in 2016. He's young, so potential gets him another year.

Powers is probably in, even if the team hasn't really ever committed to him being the number 10, and especially because rumours are swirling that he'll be sold to a European team, possibly Reading in the English Championship, where he trialed last week. I expect to hear that move announced in January when the transfer window opens. You don't release a guy you might legitimately be able to swap for some transfer cash. I think you can get $500K for Powers, although I'm sure some of my peeps on Rapids twitter think he's worth way more.

Sarvas, and Torres are tougher to figure. They're both older, had down years in 2015, and are on the pricey side (Sarvas made $ 425K, Torres earned $274K) . Torres was sometimes ineffective, often subbed off, and was almost invisible to Rapids fans after the Gold Cup mid-summer. He's an expensive cog that hasn't seemed to produce the way the team hoped he would off of a great Gold Cup performance for Panama in 2013. If he's retained, this year is probably his last chance to prove that he belongs in MLS.

Sarvas was only brought in this year, and was exceptional with the 2014 MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy (That's good!). But, he wasn't a game-changing midfielder for the team, struggling to generate and link up offense on a team that was starved for goals. He also had a run of injury mid-season. And he's expensive (that's bad!). If the Rapids are thinking of rebuilding, he's probably not essential. Still, I think Sarvas gets the nod.

Probably Out:

Carlos Alvarez

Marc Burch

Caleb Calvert

Charles Eloundou

Michael Harrington

Nick LaBrocca

James Riley

Luis Solignac

Why?

Burch has reached his sell-by date, and wasn't more than bench depth this year mostly anyhow. Alvarez and Calvert didn't seem to distinguish themselves at Charlotte enough for a call-up, but they might get another shot. Harrington was off the roster without explanation for a month, then was listed as out for the year with plantar fascitis. And the Rapids essentially replaced him with Maynor Figueroa, who looks like a solid fit with the team going forward.

Eloundou had some bright moments, and I think he's a talent to develop. Rumor has it, though, that sending him to the USL Colorado Springs Switchbacks was basically the Rapids cutting ties. I hope not, but it's likely the case. Riley was scooped off the waiver wire, and got beat more than a few times at right back to cost the Rapids a fistful of goals. Buh-bye.

Nick LaBrocca is a useful cog. He's a veteran defensive mid with a super-high work rate. He holds and passes well. But he's not fast, or strong, or big, or young (he's 30). Or cheap - he made $180K in 2015. I think Pablo loves him, but the team is swimming in better defensive midfielders (Watts, Pittinari, Sarvas, and Cronin). If the team is going to improve, they really need a fantastic CDM, which means the least necessary CDM is LaBrocca. Even if you think LaBrocca is a better CDM than Watts, Watts earned $60K in 2015. Is LaBrocca $120K better than Watts? My thinking (and the logic that the Rapids aren't looking to spend a lot of money for bench depth, or, really, anything) is that LaBrocca is expendable.

And Luis Solignac was signed for the veteran minimum of $65K. But for $50 a week and a case of Chelada, most Rapids fans could have duplicated his in-game accomplishments of either coughing up the ball on the left side, or missing the goal by a mile, or both. If he does come back, he'll need to score 9 goals in 3 games for me to forgive him for the crap-show he was in 2015.

Out:


Zac MacMath

His loan expires, and the Rapids have already announced he won't be back. Bummer for us and him, since it looks like Philadelphia actually found a pair of good keepers while he was gone.