The Colorado Rapids announced their year-end roster decisions today. Additionally, their lists of protected and unprotected players for the 2022 MLS Expansion draft were made public.
Contract options for 2023 for forwards Diego Rubio and Michael Barrios, midfielder Oliver Larraz, defenders Aboubacar Keita and Anthony Markanich and goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez were exercised. Midfielder Philip Mayaka and defenders Michael Edwards and Steven Beitashour had their options declined.
Forward Gyasi Zardes and goalkeeper Clint Irwin are out of contract and eligible for free agency. Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez and defender Lucas Esteves were on loan for 2022 and those loans have expired. The club has a buy option on Esteves, believed by Burgundy Wave to be $1 million with a 50% sell-on clause. Colorado has until December 1 to exercise that option. The club remains in discussions with Zardes, Gutierrez, Beitashour and Edwards for contract offers for 2023.
Summary of year-end roster decisions:
Players under contract for 2023 (22): Lalas Abubakar, Bryan Acosta, Max Alves, Sebastian Anderson, Michael Barrios, Braian Galván, Aboubacar Keita, Oliver Larraz, Jonathan Lewis, Anthony Markanich, Sam Nicholson, Jack Price, Ralph Priso, Abraham Rodriguez, Keegan Rosenberry, Diego Rubio, Dantouma “Yaya” Toure, Gustavo Vallecilla, Collen Warner, Danny Wilson, Darren Yapi, William Yarbrough
Option exercised (6): Michael Barrios, Aboubacar Keita, Oliver Larraz, Anthony Markanich, Abraham Rodriguez, Diego Rubio
Out of contract (2): Clint Irwin, Gyasi Zardes
Loan expired (2): Lucas Esteves, Felipe Gutierrez
Option declined (3): Steven Beitashour, Michael Edwards, Philip Mayaka
Colorado Rapids roster as of November 10:
Goalkeepers (2): Abraham Rodriguez, William Yarbrough
Defenders (7): Lalas Abubakar, Sebastian Anderson, Aboubacar Keita, Anthony Markanich, Keegan Rosenberry, Gustavo Vallecilla, Danny Wilson
Midfielders (7): Bryan Acosta, Max Alves, Braian Galván, Oliver Larraz, Jack Price, Ralph Priso, Collen Warner
Forwards (6): Michael Barrios, Jonathan Lewis, Sam Nicholson, Diego Rubio, Dantouma “Yaya” Toure, Darren Yapi
Analysis of the roster decisions:
Big picture, there aren’t many surprises here. All six players who had options picked up are either young talents or critical veteran pieces.
Mayaka spent most of the year with Rapids 2 and was not great. The club not including him on the list of players they’re negotiating with signals they’ve cut bait. He hasn’t been good enough. Someone in the USL will take a flyer on him. He was a bust of a Generation Adidas draft pick.
Beitashour made $172,500 this year according to the MLSPA. Colorado probably declined the option to negotiate down a more reasonable salary for a player who will turn 36-years-old before next season starts. Would he take a one-year deal with an option for 2024 at $100,000 a year to keep his career going?
Edwards is a bit curious. He just turned 21. He had an option for 2023 and 2024. He looked better with Rapids 2 than he did with the Switchbacks on loan in 2021. Maybe the club wants to re-sign him to a longer term deal. Maybe he’s open to returning but wanted to explore options in Europe or the USL.
Irwin heading to free agency is for the best. He’s played in three MLS games since William Yarbrough arrived. His only minutes in 2022 were with Rapids 2. He’ll be 34 in April. The next contract he signs could be his last. If he wants to move somewhere he’s actually going to play, now is the time. Abe Rod can back up Yarbrough and still lead R2’s defense next season.
The club liked many things about Zardes this year. He’s probably not worth $1.4 million a year. He’ll be a free agent for the first time in his career this winter. Where he goes will come down to compensation, term, and fit. He seemed happy in Colorado. A two year deal with an option year or two at $750,000 annually would be reasonably to me.
Gutierrez probably comes down to how eager he’d be to return to MLS to close out his career and what a transfer fee would cost. At his age, I wouldn’t pay Universidad Católica more than $500,000.
For Esteves, it probably comes down to budget and whether they see European clubs taking a look in the next three years. If the Rapids don’t re-sign Zardes, they’ll be in the market for an attacker come January. That $1 million would be a big deal. If they don’t buy him, they might be betting on Markanich.