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Midseason Review, Part 1: Wingers

The width of the attack, rated, at this point halfway into the Rapids 2015 campaign.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As we come to matchday 18 in the MLS calendar we're reaching the midpoint of the year. Here's the Colorado Rapids ratings for guys that have seen the bulk of the year at left or right attacking midfielder in the Mastroeni 4-2-3-1.

Juan Ramirez - LAM

Grade: B-

Beer He Reminds Me Of:

Hoegaarden. Silky smooth, can drink it really fast, but lacking in finish or substance.

As one of the vaunted offseason Argentinian signings, taking the spot for the inconsistent Dillon Serna, Juan Ramirez carried a lot of promise. It’s been mostly unfulfilled, as Ramirez has converted his 11 starts and 946 minutes of play into only one measly assist, and that was in the blowout win against FC Dallas. Ramirez clearly has the wheels, with an average 2.7 dribbles per game, highest on the team by far, as Vicente Sanchez has the next most at 1.1 dpg. He also least the team in getting dispossessed 3.5 times per game. Ramirez has 37 shots, 0 goals. That pretty much explains why Pablo has benched him. He’s young, he’s fast, and he can make the smooth pass into space. He can also decided to ignore everyone around him and fire it a mile wide. Ramirez is only 22, and he’s been at times the Rapids most exciting player, so there’s still a lot of upside to him. This team needs a superstar right now though, and it looks like Ramirez isn’t it.

Dillon Serna - LAM

Grade: B+

Beer he reminds me of:

Homebrew. One week, you’ll churn out the most spectacular chocolate porter anyone ever had. The next week, the batch is spoiled and you dump the whole lot.

Dillon Serna is often inconsistent since he started getting regular minutes last season, so it’s hard to make heads or tails of him. In his first minutes this season, in garbage time against FC Dallas with the ‘Pids up 3-0, Serna caught a perfect feed onto his foot at mid field, took a few strides and obliterated the ball into the back of the net from almost 40 yds out. He had a cracker of a goal last year against DC United from the left side too. He scored a brace in the Open Cup match playing as the number 10 in the middle of the park, and had the team’s late equalizer against FC Dallas on June 20. That’s all great! In two starts since then, he was pretty much invisible, getting open to receive the pass only sporadically. Which was what happened last year that led to his benching. Serna is undeniably talented but hasn’t blossomed into the speedy winger-creator that some of his young contemporaries like Harry Shipp and Ethan Finlay have. He needs a little more time, some mentoring, and more chances.

Vicente Sanchez - RAM

Grade: C

Beer He Reminds Me Of:

Heineken. Once upon a time he was an exotic foreign import and the best thing at the bar. Those days are over.

Sanchez still has a bit of spark and sizzle, so it’s unfair to give him really low marks. If the Rapids only needed him to come on in the 75th minute every other game and provide set-piece and corner magic, he’d be perfect. But he’s certainly not the speed demon he used to be, nor can he play more than 45 minutes a game much anymore. His only assist was a secondary one to Drew Moor on that aforementioned Serna equalizer. He still dribbles and crosses well, but he is what he is, and he’s certainly not getting any better. If there is one thing to watch for these last couple months, it’s Sanchez play what I would expect to be the last games of a remarkable career that saw him play for Schalke in the Bundesliga, Club America and Toluca in Liga MX, and Nacional in his home country of Uruguay. Respect the Wizard.

Gabriel Torres - RAM (CAM and ST also)

Grade: B

Beer He Reminds Me of:

Negra Modelo. The go-to beer when other options aren’t available. Very good, very reliable, usually $1 more than you really want to pay, but the other options are much worse.

I remember watching Gaby Torres at the Gold Cup in the final with Panama in 2013 and was dazzled. When the Rapids signed him, I was thrilled. I was sure he’d be the striker-savior, the final piece, the finisher of chances, the perfect weapon to convert Dillon Powers’ through-balls into copious goals. Perhaps I overestimated.

Torres is probably the best shake-n-bake dribbler on the ball the Rapids have, using footwork and smart body-shielding to create space on defenders. He also leads the team in goals, with 4. That’s the same amount of goals as the oft talked-about Juan Agudelo and Gyasi Zardes, and one more than Robbie Keane and Kekuta Manneh. He also did this:

He’s in shape and he’s playing well on the right wing, although Rapids fans are divided on whether this is his best position. He’s probably the team’s best performer this year, but he isn’t Lionel Messi or Eden Hazard: you can’t just put the offense load on his back and hope the team will convert. He has yet to develop consistent chemistry or a passing rhythm with anyone other than Dillon Powers, and I think Pablo Mastroeni’s frequent lineup changes and Marcelo Sarvas’ extended absence harmed Torres the most. If Torres, Sarvas, Powers, Doyle and Solignac can develop some rhythm, this team could string together some goals and creep back towards relevance. If not, Torres and his *just under DP* salary might be one of many things to go in an offseason that certainly see a lot of roster reconstruction.