In the first year of the Major League Soccer-United Soccer League partnership there were going to be a lot of questions as to how successful it was going to be. And for the Colorado Rapids it led to the unexpected partnership with Charlotte Independence who were beginning their first year in USL. (Most thought a partnership would develop with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC). And while both the Rapids and Charlotte Independence missed the playoffs in 2015, there is much to be positive about for Charlotte as they head into 2016.
The #OneClub Report:
1) Fighting On: The Independence needed a win in their final game of the season to the playoffs, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Charleston Battery which left the Independence just one point from the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a tough pill to swallow but it left Charlotte with a 10-8-10 record on the year, good for 40 points. Although they did not make the playoffs, they left it all out on the pitch and gave it everything.
2) Loanees: John Berner and Caleb Calvert spent the entire 2015 season on loan with the Independence and Carlos Alvarez was there nearly as long. In addition, Marlon Hairston and Charles Eloundou were with Charlotte for spells during the year. It was a good partnership that provided valuable playing time for players who may not have seen the field in Commerce City.
3) The Future: So what does the future hold for Charlotte? Expansion teams have historically struggled in any sport during their first season and Charlotte was able to come within a point of the playoffs. Not too shabby. But what about Calvert, Berner and Alvarez. I have to think that Berner is back with the Rapids next year as the Number Two keeper behind starter Clint Irwin, but for Calvert and Alvarez things are a bit more murky. The Rapids front office does not appear to know what they are doing and it looks like they are throwing darts at a dartboard and seeing what sticks. I would like to see Calvert and Alvarez get a legitimate shot in 2016, but I doubt if that happens. The Rapids seem to have a preference towards veterans rather than younger players with upsides.
So as the Charlotte season has ended and the Rapids season is just a month from being over, the question needs to be asked: what do both clubs in the #OneClub need to do to improve going into 2016.