It is no secret that the Colorado Rapids are a struggling franchise on the pitch. They won eight games in 2014 and have just eight wins in this campaign (with five more matches to go). They are awash in poor play, a lack of goal scoring, and have sold their brightest young talent and replaced that with older (and it some cases over the hill) veterans. What does it all mean?
This is a bad team right now with little hope that things will be turned around.
Every year Major League Soccer releases its 24 Under 24 list giving MLS a voice to who has the potential to be the "next big thing" in the league. Yes, it is subjective. Yes, it is a bit of a fluff piece that has no real value. But it is a perception of those around MLS and what players are important and on the rise.
Again, it is perception of who is the youngest and brightest up and comers in the league.
When I went through the 2015 list I noticed that there was not a single Colorado Rapids player on that list.
Over the history of the Colorado Rapids they have never been a team that did a great job in growing its own Homegrown talent. When you look back to the 2010 Championship, the major players in that team were all acquired in a trade or were a free agent signing. There was very little young talent that had been with the team in the academy or that the Rapids drafted and nurtured.
This, however, started to change in 2013. The 2013 edition of the 24 Under 24 featured Deshorn Brown (at No. 20) and Dillon Powers (at No. 24) and both players went on to have great seasons that year. Powers won Rookie of the Year and Brown won the Rapids Golden Boot. AND, the Rapids collected 51 points in clinching a playoff berth.
Not too bad.
Excitement was high going in the 2014 season for the Rapids and the 24 Under 24 edition that season had three Rapids players on the list. Powers was at number 11, Shane O'Neill at number 19, and Brown at number 20.
But in 2015: Nothing.
Brown and O'Neill have been sold and Powers is out of sorts (it seems) playing for a coach that is out of his element. I know this list does not really mean a whole lot, but MLS gets it right a whole lot more then it gets it wrong in this regard. I would invite you to take a look at past editions of this list and many of the names there are having very good MLS careers.
As I look at this edition of 24 Under 24 it shows me the transition that the Rapids are going through. In 2013, they were young, dynamic, and fearless and teams legitimately were concerned when they had to play the Rapids. In 2015, not a single team fears the Rapids, let alone having to play in the faux fortress that is Dick's Sporting Goods Park. That young dynamic team from 2013 has been gutted for aging veterans that are largely too slow, too ineffective, and largely not good enough to compete in Major League Soccer. The Rapids are quickly becoming irrelevant in a league that is becoming growing in numbers and talent. The Rapids are in danger of being left behind (if they have not already).
And that is not perception: that is reality.