I have a fascination with the long end of the bench. Maybe it's the reality of being a late-pick for childhood games of kickball and sockball.* Also, I love underdogs. I also love overthinking things that probably don't really matter in the long run. So trialist speculation is really a magic nexus for me.
Anyhoo. Based on the little evidence we have from recent games, we can possibly piece together what the odds are on each of these trialists and unsigned SuperDraft picks have at making the 2016 Colorado Rapids.
(Update- Rapids Superfan Joan Dobrzynski pointed out that, although the MLSsoccer.com website states there's 24 players on the roster, the count is actually 23. Read on, but maybe that means AJ Cochran or Brad Spencer have a slightly better shot at the roster than previously thought.)
That includes a roster spot being held by Joe Greenspan. Connor McGahee announced on a recent podcast that he'd spend the year at sea, so perhaps they open up another spot. Or not.
And based on that, here's my tentative depth chart.
Here's a list of all of the trialists and whether they played in the games against Sacramento, Swope Park, and Houston. All details according to official Rapids twitter account, @coloradorapids.
|Name||Played SAC?||Played SPR?||Played HOU?|
|Emmanuel Appiah, MF||2nd half||2nd half||No|
|Dennis Castillo, D||1st half||2nd half||Full 90'|
|AJ Cochran, D||2nd half||2nd half||2nd half|
|Yann Ekra, MF||Sub at 77'||No||No|
|Chris Froschauer, GK||2nd half||2nd half||No|
|Bradley Kamdem, MF||No||No||No|
|Stephen Keel, D||1st half||2nd half||2nd half|
|Shawn Keith, MF||No||No||2nd half|
|Brian Ownby, MF||1st half||No||No|
|Brad Spencer, ?||No||No||2nd half|
|Javan Torre, D||No||No||No|
Here's my man by man rundown...
Appiah and Castillo are the Rapids 1st and 2nd round picks from the 2016 SuperDraft. Appiah didn't stand out in the game against Swope Park (considering how poorly the game went, you could argue that nobody did), and he was probably left out of the game with Houston because he took a knock or something, since a fill-in took a spot at his position in the game against Houston. More on that later. I think Appiah is going to make the team, but would be a candidate to go to the Charlotte Independence.
Castillo is interesting. With Marlon Hairston the only player on on the roster with experience at right back, Castillo seemed to be in competition to back up or even start there. But with the addition of Eric Miller, right back seems to be pretty deep. Castillo has played the most of any player without a contract, and all at right back. In the event the team flip-flops and wants Hairston to play on the attack, he's got a role in the team. If not, it's hard to see the team carrying three guys that can really only play right back.
At 6'3", 195 lbs., AJ Cochran is a prototypical big strong center back. He was a first round pick of the Houston Dynamo in 2014 and has got into 26 games on defense for them, mostly in his rookie season, starting only 5 times in 2015. He, too, has played a lot, but he also got burned on Swope Park's second goal. He looked fine against Houston, but the Rapids center back crew has St. Ledger, Burling, and Sjoberg: three big guys who can body a guy up but are a little lacking in distribution. Cochran would just be a fourth guy that can do what those other guys already do, but just a little worse. I don't think he makes it- but he might be the guy who gets a spot if the Rapids are removing Greenspan from the roster.
Yann Ekra nailed an absolute golazo in his game against Seongnam FC, but I don't think he's even with the team in Tucson. He's got a contract in Charlotte with an escape clause for MLS. I think that means he's a ‘break glass in case of emergency' creative midfielder. The Rapids have Dillon Powers, Marco Pappa, Zach Pfeffer, Dillon Serna, Luis Solignac, Marlon Hairston and now even Dom Badji to plug in there first. So a lotta hamstrings gotta pop before Ekra gets a shot. The only caveat to that is, any MLS team can grab him up, and maybe just maybe the Rapids don't want to lose him, so they add him to the roster and stash him in Charlotte anyhow. That's a $50,000 maybe, though, and I don't think it makes much sense in the same world where you cut Charles Eloundou loose at the end of 2015.
Goalkeeper Chris Froschauer is interesting, because he's played almost as many preseason minutes as Zac MacMath. Meanwhile, the Rapids 2014 draftee John Berner hasn't been with the team at all. Odd. MacMath is clearly the number one, unless of course Tim Hinchey returns from his trip to Everton with Tim Howard. But do Froschauer's minutes with the Rapids mean that Berner is done in burgundy? Or is Froschauer just trying out to be the certain number 3, with the Rapids planning to bring up Berner as the certain number 2? Maybe Froschauer, as a first year player, is a few thousand a year cheaper than the third year man, Berner? Maybe Rapids coaches have concluded that Berner isn't developing anymore? I don't know. Regardless, I think Froschauer gets a contract, just in case.
Bradley Kamdem hasn't played a minute in the past three weeks. Neither did John Manga, the team's fourth round pick in the 2016 SuperDraft. The Rapids announced Manga had been released two weeks ago. I don't know why they haven't said the same for Kamdem.
Stephen Keel is a salty veteran center back. He's 32, a former Rapid and a Littleton, Colorado native, he can distribute the ball out of the back, and as a former outside back, he's got a little bit of pace and he's versatile. With all that, I think he'd be a better fit for the team than AJ Cochran, since, additionally, his 11 years of pro soccer experience make him an ideal mentor for the younger defenders. In his recent games, he missed a great opportunity on a headed goal and also got beat for a goal against Swope Park Rangers. But I still think he gets the nod for a roster spot over fellow central defender AJ Cochran.
Shawn Keith is a Rapids legend. That's because in Saturday's game against the Houston Dynamo he was listed by @coloradorapids as ‘Houston Fill-In' until the team later deleted it and replaced it with his name, which is kind of ridiculous if you think about it. The deleted tweet is preserved here.
Keith plays with FC Tucson in the USL and filled in for the Rapids against Houston as a defensive midfielder. I think he really was just a fill-in, perhaps because the Rapids were short a couple players that were carrying a knock. Totally impossible that he makes the team. If he somehow miraculously DOES make the team, and then if he ever sees a minute of playing time, he would re-calibrate the Scott Palguta Depth meter to new and epic levels of desperation.
Brian Ownby hasn't played in the two matches in Tucson, and plays a position, midfield, that the team is pretty well stacked at. Buh-bye.
Brad Spencer is new Rapids coach John Spencer's son. That's pretty much all we know about him. His 45 minutes against the Dynamo didn't even an impression on me. Hell, I don't even remember what position he played. Midfield? He's a longshot to make the team.
Javan Torre also hasn't played since pre-season camp in Chula Vista, CA. I think he's either injured or will be cut, maybe already by the time you've read this.
So my picks for the final roster? I think the team adds Appiah, Castillo, Keel, and Froschauer. And in the event they are allowed by MLS to drop Joseph Greenspan but retain his rights, maybe they add Brad Spencer or AJ Cochran. We'll find out soon enough.
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* Note: For some odd reason, my elementary school was bigger on ‘Sockball', in which one ‘punched' the ball out of their own hand. The critical element to Sockball was the purchase of really cool wristbands.