Following the disappointing 3-0 loss at the hands of Minnesota United in the first round of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Colorado Rapids have played their final match of 2020. Despite the heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Loons, the Rapids had lots of success this year, and for the first season in what feels like ages, they go into the offseason with no need to overhaul the roster. Though there are a few areas the club will look to address and strengthen, the Rapids are a very strong young side that can really only go up from here.
Priority number one will be ensuring their core returns for 2021 through contract extensions. Padraig Smith and his front office will be busy looking at contracts for key players that have club options for the next year, like Sam Vines, Andre Shinyashiki, and Danny Wilson.
An official club announcement is expected in the next few days, but until then, let’s examine which player are under contract and which ones might be re-signed.
These players are under contract through the end of the 2021 season, so we don’t have to worry about them leaving for free.
- Lalas Abubakar
- Kellyn Acosta
- Sebastian Anderson
- Cole Bassett
- Nicolas Benezet
- Kortne Ford
- Braian Galvan
- Matt Hundley
- Jonathan Lewis
- Nicolas Mezquida
- Younes Namli
- Jack Price
- Andre Rawls
- Abraham Rodriguez
- Keegan Rosenberry
- Diego Rubio
- Auston Trusty
- Will Vint
Here are the players whose contracts are expiring at the end of the calendar yet. We will take a look at each one and explain why they may, or may not, return to the Rapids for 2021.
A no-brainer, Sam Vines was an absolutely critical piece of the Rapids in 2020 and emerged as a top left back in MLS. At just 21 years old, Vines will only get better from here. The Rapids’ biggest priority should be getting Vines locked up long-term, and I imagine the Colorado Springs native is in for a raise this winter, too. He has a club option for 2021 on his existing contract, which the Rapids will likely pick up. If his deal expires next winter with no more club options, the Rapids should attempt to sign Vines to a new long-term contract before next season.
Being the understudy for Keegan Rosenberry this season, the 9th overall pick from the 2020 MLS Superdraft saw limited minutes in 2020. He brings versatility and depth, and I think is a fairly straightforward choice to be kept for 2021. With a more regular schedule expected in 2021, we will likely see more of Kelly next year.
Another fairly simple decision, 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year Andre Shinyashiki had a bit of a sophomore slump this season, bagging only four goals in 16 matches. But we all know what Andre is capable of and I expect his 2021 club option to be picked up.
Veteran midfielder and Denver native Collen Warner was signed prior to the MLS is Back Tournament this summer for depth. Warner has made a decent number of appearances and has done alright in all of the opportunities he’s gotten. The only thing working against Warner is his age, which is 32. If the Rapids Front Office believe Homegrown midfielder Will Vint is ready for first-team minutes, I imagine Warner is gone. If they think Vint needs more time to develop, we may see Warner back in burgundy next season. Or, the Rapids may have a different depth midfielder in mind to sign this winter. Either way, the Rapids’ decision regarding Warner may be a hint about either a new signing or show their confidence in youngster Will Vint.
In his second stint with the Rapids, Irwin was first an understudy for Tim Howard and now for William Yarbrough. At 31, Irwin should still have a few years left in him, and as a relatively cheap and talented back-up goalkeeper, I don’t see why the Rapids wouldn’t pick up his 2021 option. Similarly to Warner, however, if Homegrown ‘keeper Abraham Rodriguez is ready for senior team minutes in Robin Fraser’s eyes, that may lead to Irwin leaving. But if Rodriguez needs more time to develop, I suspect Irwin returns for 2021.
Signed in the winter as a free agent, 36-year-old Drew Moor scored a stoppage-time winner against Orlando City SC in the lone match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in front of fans. Moor turns 37 in January, and has still not given any indication if he will retire or not, but whatever he chooses, I assume he will return to Colorado in 2021 in some manner. If he decides to play one more season, I imagine the Rapids pick up his option. If not, I assume he joins the academy coaching staff or some other position within the club. The 2010 MLS Cup winner Drew Moor has worn the burgundy better than almost anyone else in franchise history and he should absolutely be kept around in some role for 2021 and beyond.
Undoubtedly the biggest decision for the Rapids braintrust ahead of the 2021 season will be what they will do at left center back and there are numerous factors that could point to Wilson leaving in this offseason. The first is his salary. In 2019, Wilson was only behind Tim Howard, Tommy Smith, Kei Kamara, and Kellyn Acosta in salary figures. Salaries weren’t released this year, but it’s easy to figure out Wilson only made less than Kellyn Acosta, Younes Namli (because he’s a Designated Player), and maybe Nicolas Benezet. Again, the flat cap this winter will influence teams’ decisions this winter and clearing Wilson’s large salary off the books could be beneficial for the Rapids and provide important flexibility. The Rapids also have a replacement already in the club in the event Wilson leaves with Auston Trusty. Left-footed, good in the air, and a calm defender, he’s very similar to Wilson, but he’s six years younger and on a cheaper contract. Trusty didn’t have the best start to life in Colorado, but improved every match he played, most notably shutting down star Seattle striker Raul Ruidiaz in the Rapids 3-1 win over Seattle toward the end of the regular season. A full season with a consistent partnership with Lalas Abubakar could do wonders for Trusty. Whatever the Rapids choose to do with Danny Wilson could have a huge effect on what the front office can do this off-season in terms of new signings. Based on all the factors mentioned above, I assume the Rapids decline Wilson’s 2021 option and hand the reins to Auston Trusty for 2021.
Twenty-four-year-old Rwandan international Abdul Rwatubyaye has not appeared in an MLS match for Colorado, spending all of his almost two-year Rapids career on loan with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. In the Springs, he’s been a rock along the backline, earning praise from former manager Alan Koch, who told The Gazette, “When he’s been able to train consistently and play, he’s played very, very well,” following missing time due to COVID-19 concerns. Despite not making his Rapids debut, with Drew Moor and Danny Wilson both potentially leaving, I think the Rapids should pick up his 2021 option for defensive depth. Plus, at only 24, Rwatubyaye can still grow and could be a valuable option for years to come.
The first player on our list I expect the Rapids to release. New Zealander Deklan Wynne didn’t appear in any matches in 2020 and didn’t exactly impress in previous seasons. I suspect Wynne’s time in Colorado is over.
Like Deklan Wynne, Niki Jackson didn’t make an appearance in 2020 at any level due to a knee injury. The fourth-round draft pick out of Grand Canyon University got occasional minutes under Anthony Hudson, but has barely seen the pitch since Hudson was fired. While Jackson does offer good attacking depth, I doubt the Rapids will re-sign Jackson.
Signed to be a back-up to Sam Vines, Steven Beitashour did not make a single appearance for Colorado in 2020, even when Vines wasn’t fit to start against Minnesota in the playoffs. Surely this means Beitashour won’t return to Colorado in 2021. Especially considering the league isn’t increasing the salary cap this winter, the Rapids will need all the space possible to make the moves they want this off-season, which may come at his expense.
Our final inclusion is goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who spent 2020 on loan from Liga MX’s Leon. His loan has come to an end, but it does include a permanent purchase option or the potential to extend the loan. This one is the hardest decision for me to make, as Yarbrough did perform well for the Rapids in 2020 and was clearly a vocal leader on the pitch (made apparent by his booming voice constantly heard during matches). He is 31 and depending on how much the purchase option on his loan is worth, he may be overpriced. Maybe the Rapids can find a cheaper alternative elsewhere? But if the front office deems the purchase option in his loan reasonable, or they are able to negotiate a lower permanent transfer fee, Yarbrough should absolutely return to the Rapids for 2021.
The off-season promises to be one full of interesting decisions for the Rapids, with the first moves toward 2021 expected to be announced in the next few days. Whose option would you pick up? Who do you think they should let go?