As excited as I am for the 2017 MLS season to begin, I am still just as troubled about the scoring options for our Colorado Rapids.
I was most encouraged in watching the Rapids take care of the New England Revolution 3-1 this past Saturday. Yet, that's preseason. Much ink has been spilled over the lack of times the Rapids hit the back of the net, so I won't belabor that here. But I do believe 2017 will offer its own particular challenges, especially now that the rest of MLS has the book on their defense.
Here’s the big issue: the Rapids can't depend completely on the counterattack or backline mistakes.
I do not have the statistics (calling the Rabbi!), but sitting in the South Stands for 17 games and watching most of the others, I kept having the nagging feeling that the primary ways the Rapids would score would not be on run of play, but on capitalizing on the backline's mistakes. Mind you, defense and offense are not that far apart.
Bill Russell, all-time great of the Boston Celtics, viewed his defense of blocking shots as actually an offensive move to start the break. Will the Rapids be content with trying to shut down other offenses, or will they work to break down the opponents' defenses?
That being said, we’ve got some things to look forward to.
Dillon Serna is back and Caleb Calvert has made some preseason noise, and both should have a more prominent role.
I believe that Serna will have a breakout year, as Shane O'Neill had in 2013, Dillon Powers in 2014, and Marlon Hairston in 2016 (did anyone break out in 2015?). He makes the most of his goalscoring opportunities with the limited time he has played. FC Dallas ended his season in the Open Cup last year, but he's back, he's training, and I see him being a surprise for 2017.
Calvert impressed with the USL Charlotte Independence, scoring eight goals while on loan from the Rapids. He impressed greatly in Saturday's preseason game, giving Rapids fans a bit of hope, if he can crack the bench.
Who do you see as one who will break out in 2017? Badji? Powers as Comeback Player now that ol' what's his name is gone to LA?
Let’s not forget that the Front Office surprised last year, and I believe they will and have done it again.
Shkelzen Gashi was a great pickup in the previous offseason, and now that he's fully adjusted to MLS, he will have a dynamic year (please, God, give us 10+ goals out of him). I hope they have surprised Rapids' fans with someone who can serve Kevin Doyle and/or Dominique Badji well.
If Colorado can improve on the offensive end, then Rapids fans will not only have reason to hope in 2017, but in the years ahead. It will show that Pablo Mastroeni, the coaching staff, and the front office have found their stride. All fans hope for is improvement from season to season.
One last thought: the Rapids won a lot of games last year 1-0 and drew a lot of games 0-0. While most fans would love more scoring, with games ending 3-2, 4-3, etc., here's hoping for some 2-0 or 3-0 games.
Where do you see the scoring coming from? Do you have your eye on any breakout players for 2017?