With a SINGLE DAY until the season officially starts, we’re getting pretty psyched around here. It feels like offseason was both a blip and forever, and to be honest, preseason is a tease. But with the home opener coming up tomorrow, things are about to get real. In light of this excitement, the Burgundy Wave staff put together our predictions about who’s going to do well, and how we think the Colorado Rapids will end up overall.
DomBurgundy: Sam Cronin.
Sam is the heartbeat of the team, if he isn't performing the team doesn't run. He didn't have a great game in the final of the Desert Diamond Cup and the Rapids lost 2-0 (and look at his goal that got the preseason game vs NYCFC going).
RapidsRabbi: Axel Sjöberg
The defense might not be as dominant as in was in 2016 : a team that only gave up 7 goals at home would need to work wonders to equal or improve on that. But they'll still be pretty good, and I think Axel will be even better than he was last year.
JJ Seaward: Axel Sjöberg
Axel will once again be a huge key to how successful the Rapids will be for this upcoming season. After a strong season last year, I predict Axel to be even better this upcoming season.
From the South Stands: Sam Cronin
I'm appreciating his leadership more and more. He's the engine that keeps the Rapids running.
Keith Buderus: Tim Howard
After a mediocre off-season where the club didn't do much to replace the quality and presence of Jermaine Jones, I believe they are looking at another season like last year where they claw out results. If that's the case, our DP Goalkeeper is going to have to be the team MVP. Who know's where he goes after this, but we do know one thing- he is ours for this season!
Rosch: Axel Sjöberg
At the end of the day, the Rapids will be successful via their defense that that defense is led by their best player along the back line: Sjöberg. Without him anchoring the defense, the Rapids could struggle.
Richard Terry: Shkëlzen Gashi
Abbie: Shkëlzen Gashi
He’s a fan favorite, and he’s going to score a bazillion goals, which will be clutch for the Rapids to win the MLS Cup. There’s really no other option.
DomBurgundy: Shkëlzen Gashi
He will find his feet this year, with the combo of Serna and Hairston playing better he will have more freedom scoring from everywhere. 16 goals.
RapidsRabbi: Dominique Badji
Either Dominique Badji takes the step forward at striker to be the teams needed target striker that gets double digit goals, or we're going to have trouble scoring. Again.
JJ Seaward: Dominique Badji
I feel as if Badji will elevate his game for this upcoming season, and will show the MLS and doubters the true striker that he is projected to be for the Rapids.
From the South Stands: Dominique Badji
His finishing will be better, now that he's had a full season on MLS with starter-esque minutes.
Keith Buderus: Shkelzen Gashi
Our Albanian DP should be good for double-digit goals this season. He will fully know the league now and Pablo knows how to get the most out of him. Let's hope Dominique Badji and Kevin Doyle challenge Gashi for this award because this team could badly use two or three players to score around 10 goals.
Rosch: Caleb Calvert
Going crazy here, but Caleb Calvert will end up being a factor this season for the Rapids and will sneak in with 7-9 goals and win the Boot.
Richard Terry: Shkëlzen Gashi
Abbie: Shkëlzen Gashi
He’s got the most potential to score a lot of goals, and I think he was just getting warmed up towards the end of last season.
DomBurgundy: Kevin Doyle
He's been here for a few years now and is a favorite of many fans, but he hasn't really produced either of his seasons. For him to stay, he needs to score more than 5-6 goals. He needs to have a breakout year on a league level to stay around. I'd be impressed if he scored 12 goals and had 10 assists.
RapidsRabbi: Kortne Ford
There likely won't be a 'true' breakout star this season, since the club only added players that look like 2nd stringers, and Marlon Hairston and Eric Miller have already broken out. But Ford will get 6-10 spot starts, and he'll look good doing it.
JJ Seaward: Nana Boateng (2nd choice; Sam Hamilton...because of DU)
I predict for Boateng to have an extremely successful first MLS season leading the way for the Rapids offense.
From the South Stands: Caleb Calvert
He played well with the Charlotte Independence, and I believe if (if!) he gets a shot, he'll make the most of it. He has a nose for goal (granted, in USL), but let's get him MLS ready.
Keith Buderus: Eric Miller
As a veteran of the US Youth National Teams this is the season Miller solidifies himself as one of the finest right backs in MLS. After coming over from the Montreal Impact, at times he looked timid and did not play the position to his full potential. He should feel more comfortable this season and I expect him to create more chances.
Rosch: Caleb Calvert
Again, all in on Calvert. Watch out for him this season.
Richard Terry: Bismark Adjei-Boateng
Abbie: Caleb Calvert
If (and this is a big if) he gets a chance at some actual minutes, I think the guy could finally show us what he’s made of.
Jared Watts needs a good year. I'm not the biggest fan of his, but with the pressure of players like Ford and Burling behind him, he should perform.
Rapids Rabbi: Axel
There is nothing Axel can't do #SwedishMissleDefense.
JJ Seaward: Axel
He led the team last season, and I predict that he will have an even better season for this upcoming season.
From the South Stands: Axel Sjöberg
Is this even a question?
Keith Buderus: Axel Sjöberg
While we will always love them, the Rapids are the Rapids and they get no love nationally as seen in last season's MLS Defender of the Year voting (Sjöberg 3rd). His dominating size and stature frustrated every striker he faced. Axel is ready to anchor the back line again and show everyone he is the best defender in MLS.
Rosch: See: Sjöberg, Axel
Richard Terry: Axel Sjöberg
Abbie: Eric Miller
I assume I will be alone in this choice, but Miller did a decent (some would say good) job last season. And based on what I’ve seen in the preseason, it looks like he’s improved. I think he’s going to be a solid defender for the Rapids this year.
Western Conference Finish
DomBurgundy: 16-7-11, 2nd in the West
This year the only focus should be the MLS Cup. Supporters’ Shield would be nice, and I'll take the US Open Cup, but the league championship needs to happen. And with CCL not happening until after this season there should be nothing in the way.
This year we finish holding the cup at home over Toronto.
There will be regression from a 2016 that simply over-performed expectation, especially on offense. Our expected goal differential of -4.44 had us as the 13th-best team in MLS - meaning the Rapids were either ruthlessly efficient or insanely lucky last year. But we'll still be pretty good.
JJ Seaward: 2nd in the West
With the acquisition of some offensive firepower, I believe that the Rapids will be quite dangerous on the offensive end. Our defense might slack a little bit, but with that second I believe that the Rapids are just as good if not better than they were last season.
From the South Stands: 4th
With a caveat that the goal scoring issue is addressed and the defense stays stout. I'm hopeful.
Keith Buderus: 5th
Although it did not come with a title, last season was one to remember. We simply did not do enough in the off-season to bolster this squad to win the conference. While I do not see the Rapids being able to contend for the Supporters’ Shield, the great thing about American sports are the playoffs (which we will be in).
Rosch: 7th in the West
This is where I get into trouble... I am struggling with the idea that the Rapids are going to score enough goals to be a true force again in the West. Are they good enough? Will they score enough goals? Right now, I am optimistic--yet realistic. Unless they score 10-12 more goals this season and they keep the defense the same, they will not make the playoffs. Too many teams have improved, and the Rapids have not made enough moves to make me think they are going to be in the playoffs.
Richard Terry: 3rd
Abbie: 3rd in the West
I don’t think the season is going to go quite as well as last year, but I don’t think it’s going to be a disaster, either. I’m not too worried about many Western Conference teams, but you never know (look at what the Rapids did last year).
Now it’s your turn - what are your predictions for the 2017 season? Tell us in the comments!