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Where does Michael Barrios fit in with the Colorado Rapids?

Barrios is the first new player to join the Rapids ahead of the 2021 season

MLS: Cup Conference Semifinals-FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids announced on Wednesday morning that they had acquired 29-year-old Colombian winger Michael Barrios and the 21st overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft from FC Dallas. In exchange, Colorado gave Dallas an international roster slot and the 15th overall pick in the SuperDraft. The deal was first reported by MLS journalist Tom Bogert and then later confirmed by the club.

Barrios is the real deal. Since signing with FC Dallas prior to the 2015 season, he’s broken records and written his name into FC Dallas history. He’s second in club history in combined goals and assists (75) and has finished top-five in the league in assists twice, in 2017 (14) and 2019 (15). He is one of only five players to notch 30 goals and 40 assists since his tenure with Dallas began in 2015. He has been a consistent performer for one of the best teams in MLS in the last half-decade.

Some people in the FC Dallas fanbase have said Barrios is past his prime and declined in ability the last year or so, after career lows in goals and assists. But, if you look at his detailed stats from 2020, Barrios had his highest successful dribble rate of his career. He also was in the top five across the whole league for chances created. Despite being 29, Barrios is still absolutely a top contributor in the league and will make the Rapids attack better.

I believe he will replace Sam Nicholson in the depth chart. Both are very pacey wingers who aren’t afraid to dribble at defenders and get into dangerous areas. The biggest difference between them for me (no offense to Nicholson) is Barrios can produce the end product: the pass that sets up a clear goal scoring chance, the move that creates a shooting opportunity for himself. Nicholson could never quite get the final play right before a scoring chance, whether a pass to a teammate or a shot himself. Barrios will not have the same issues.

Plus, Barrios has been in the league for six seasons. He is already acclimatized to MLS, knows a good majority of the defenders in the league, and knows how to be successful.

When you add in what the Rapids gave up to get Barrios, this trade looks even better—no allocation money, no players. Just a draft pick and an international roster slot. Not to mention, Barrios has a green card, meaning he won’t take up an international roster slot. In my Rapids-biased eyes, it looks like a top 10 MLS winger for almost next to nothing in return.

The addition of Barrios means a plethora of options in the wide positions. Andre Shinyashiki, Jonathan Lewis, Nicolas Benezet, Braian Galvan, and even Younes Namli are all competing for the wide spots. Add Barrios to that core, and the roster is stacked. Competition for the wing roles is going to be intense and will bring the best out of every winger in Colorado.

One other thing to consider: We got the best production out of Cole Bassett when he played as the highest of the center midfielders as the 10, with Jack Price and Kellyn Acosta behind him. This pushed Namli to right wing.

In my opinion, this was the set up in which the Rapids looked most dangerous. If that’s what Robin Fraser plans to do for 2021 (and I really hope it is), that means the left wing role is open for Lewis, Shinyashiki, Benezet, now Michael Barrios, and even Galvan. In his few appearances with the Rapids, Galvan played mainly on the right, so I assume he’ll continue playing on the right. I still don’t really think he is ready to be a starter, but rather an impact sub off the bench.

Shinyashiki can also play as a striker, of course, and if the Front Office doesn’t add another forward, I’d assume Shinyashiki will compete with Diego Rubio for that role. So, with all that being said, I think the starting left winger comes down to whoever has a better pre-season between Lewis, Benezet, and Barrios.

Regardless of who wins the starting wing positions, this trade looks excellent for the Rapids. I have always rated Barrios highly during his time in MLS and his eye-catching stats back this up. Colorado’s attack has undeniably gotten better through this move and hopefully, Michael Barrios can continue to terrorize MLS defenses in burgundy.