MLS has already seen some blockbuster moves this offseason, like Djordje Mihailovic being traded to Montreal Impact and Alex Ring to Austin FC, but the Colorado Rapids haven’t added any new players yet this offseason.
That seems set to change, as Rapids General Manager Padraig Smith recently said in an interview with Burgundy Wave that the club was looking for “a really intelligent forward who can potentially start wide, but knows how to stretch the field, can get behind defenses, has real pace, and—most importantly—is goal dangerous.”
While there are literally hundreds of strikers that fit this description, a few candidates instantly came to my mind. I have one domestic candidate and two internationals—one from Liga MX and one from Europe. I’ll explain why each one would fit the Rapids’ system, and why the club should make a push to secure one of their signatures.
The Rapids haven gotten the nickname “Distressed Assets SC” the last few years by signing young, talented players stuck on the benches of other MLS sides. Players like Jonathan Lewis and Kellyn Acosta have made a big difference in Commerce City.
If the Rapids look to continue this trend, they could go for last year’s number-one pick in the MLS Superdraft: Robbie Robinson. Robinson, 22, has been stuck behind Inter Miami’s young Argentinian Julian Carranza and big-name Designated Player Gonzalo Higuain this year, and was limited to only four starts in 2020.
He fits Smith’s description almost perfectly, as he is a quick striker who can also play as a winger and has proven in his college days to be a clinical finisher. Standing at 6’2”, he is also an aerial target.
The downside is that Robinson is still very much unproven in MLS and I doubt he would become the 20-plus goal scorer Rapids supporters have been crying out for for years. Regardless, he would undoubtedly be a great addition to the squad and would provide competition across the Rapids’ front three.
If this name is familiar to you, it’s because the Rapids were rumored to have an interest in the Frenchman prior to the 2018 season. Instead of coming to MLS, Kalulu went to FC Basel in the Swiss Super League. He has since enjoyed a one-year loan to Swansea in the English Championship, but has struggled to find minutes at both with Swansea and Basel. Upon returning to Basel in July this year following the end of his loan, he is yet to make a single appearance. In the 2017/18 season, Kalulu bagged 11 goals in the French second division but has only scored one goal since then.
Rumors floated around that Kalulu was afraid a move to MLS may hurt his development and career, but after seemingly becoming surplus to requirements at both Basel and Swansea, maybe a move to MLS with the Rapids could be beneficial for his career.
Kalulu is only 24 and plays mainly as a right winger, but he has also logged plenty of minutes as a striker. He isn’t an aerial threat, but has proven to be a clinical finisher when given regular minutes. I think a loan move for Kalulu would be in both the Rapids’ and Kalulu’s best interest.
This is the biggest (and most unrealistic) transfer on my list. Pumas striker Juan Dinenno has been linked with FC Dallas in the last few weeks, and after leading Pumas to the Liga MX Apertura final (before ultimately losing to Leon), would command a hefty transfer fee.
Dinenno has only been with Pumas for one year after leaving Colombian club Deportivo Cali last January. Despite this, as mentioned above, there are other teams looking into making a move for the Argentine’s services after his breakout season in Mexico.
This year in the Apertura, he scored 10 goals in 17 appearances. He is 6’2” and good in the air, as well as an extremely smart finisher. When I watched highlight compilations of him, I noticed that he has a great jump, he’s essentially two-footed and can score screamers from long range. In my “scouting,” he reminds me of Diego Rubio, but a little quicker and more of a force in the air.
Of course, signing Dinenno would require a pretty large transfer fee, as Transfermarkt values him at $5.5 million. Add that onto interest from other clubs, along with his breakout year with Pumas, and the fee could be as high as $10 million. Dinenno would also obviously be a Designated Player. But with European interest in starlet Cole Bassett, if the Rapids were able to cash in on Bassett, they would have the money to potentially make a serious run at a player like Dinenno.
Spending big to get talent has become a trend in MLS in recent years—a trend the Rapids are a little late in joining—but maybe this winter we’ll finally see Colorado splash the cash and land the one final piece that takes the Burgundy Boys back to an MLS Cup.