After Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng officially signed with the Colorado Rapids, off-season moves seemed to slow down, and most people assume that there will be no more movement during this transfer window. And everyone is probably right - going into preseason, the backline is intact, they added some attacking pieces, and a new/old face on the coaching staff. But just because the work for this transfer window is mostly done doesn’t mean the team can’t prepare for the next one.
News broke the other day that the Rapids traded an international slot away to NYCFC for $75,000 of GAM. The exact amount of international roster slots the Rapids own is unknown (between 6-8) but the roster currently lists seven international players (plus Juan Ramirez who is out on loan until June). Assuming they have seven slots available, all are filled, but the Rapids only have two Designated Player spots filled (Shkëlzen Gashi and Tim Howard). In order to fill that last DP slot the Rapids will either have to drop an international player from the current roster, trade for another international spot, or sign an American player as a DP.
Then on Sunday, news started to swirl that the Rapids were one of three teams showing some interest in American striker Aron Jóhannsson from Werder Bremen. Is Aron a good fit? Does he warrant a DP slot?
This year Aron has played eight games for his Bundesliga team and only started two games, earning one goal and one assist. Not the strongest stats, but he is coming off of a serious hip injury that kept him out of a year of soccer. Prior to the injury, he scored 29 goals in 58 games at AZ in the Netherlands, 2 goals in 6 games at Werder Bremen, and 4 goals in 18 games for the US. These numbers are a little more impressive. (By comparison Doyle has 11 goals in 46 games.)
Jóhannsson’s playing style is attractive for the Rapids, he is strong on the ball a good target forward. A strong finisher, a good dribbler, and a more than capable passer of the ball. He seems to find himself in the right position in the box to receive crosses from wingers, and the long ball in from the back line always finds its way to his feet. He has an ability to hit the back of the net from almost anywhere.
Making a move to MLS makes sense for Aron, his team is in jeopardy of being relegated to the second tier of German soccer. With a player trying to break back into the US National Team, playing in the second division is not a good stepping stone. Bruce Arena is from the US and respects the MLS players more than his predecessor. Pablo Mastroeni was a captain for the US team, and one of the best national team goalkeepers is on the Rapids, which means that Colorado would be a great place to get noticed.
Does it make sense to pay him a DP level contract?
Judging by his most recent performances, the short answer is no. As he’s coming off a long-term injury, signing Jóhannsson is a risk. But it wouldn’t happen until summer when the German season is over, which could mean that Jóhannsson gets more playing time, and has a chance to regain his fitness.
Personally I think his is a TAM level player, but if he does get healthy and starts scoring again, I think the Rapids would have to pay him more than TAM would allow. If he starts to score more the market will drive his price up, forcing a DP contract. Would he be a bad DP in this case? Probably not. He fits a need and would definitely score goals.
What do you think of Aron Jóhannsson? Does he fit? Should it happen? Let us know in the comments.
UPDATE: Sam Stejskal added more fuel to the fire in an article on 5/4/17. Read it here.