Role: Central Midfielder
Squad Status: Injured
Season in a Sentence: Larraz missed all of 2022 after breaking his leg in preseason, and the 21-year-old homegrown should be due for backup minutes with the Rapids next season.
The Colorado Rapids’ squad caught the injury bug this year, and Oliver Larraz became the third of five first team players to get sidelined for the season during 2022 after breaking his tibia in early March. While his surgery was successful, the homegrown’s rehabilitation extended far beyond Colorado’s initial twelve-week estimate, and the Denver native sat out his entire sophomore season with first team.
Larraz was originally set to be a consistent participant with Rapids 2 during their inaugural MLS Next Pro season, but his year could have panned out differently had the 21-year-old been available. Robin Fraser was quick to give the youngster a handful of substitute appearances during his rookie season, and Larraz went on to play a successful loan stint with San Diego Loyal SC under Landon Donovan’s watchful eye to close out 2021.
The homegrown’s absence from the side undoubtedly contributed to the club’s depth issues during the season. Without Kellyn Acosta, Cole Basset, and Mark-Anthony Kaye, plenty of minutes were up for grabs in the club’s midfield when Jack Price sustained a string of nagging injuries during the middle stretch of the season. It’s likely that the youngster could have made a case for bench minutes when the club started relying on Bryan Acosta and Collen Warner in the midfield.
The Rapids gave their vote of confidence in the homegrown’s recovery by triggering the first of two team-held options in Larraz’s team-friendly contract at the end of the 2022 season. Like most of Colorado’s players on their first homegrown deal, the natural midfielder should be set for backup first team minutes and a full slate of MLS Next Pro appearances next year.
It’s not entirely clear where he could fit in a Colorado midfield that will be bolstered by Cole Bassett’s return. While Fraser typically used Larraz as a replacement for one of the Rapids’ deep-lying midfielders in 2021, Donovan primarily deployed the youngster as a fullback during his time in San Diego. He demonstrated an endless motor when he fluctuated between a left-sided winger and a box-to-box midfielder in Colorado’s first preseason exhibition against Sporting KC in January, but he’s only ever received minimal first team minutes. Supporters should have a better idea of Colorado’s plans for the homegrown a few months into 2023. If he shows well with Rapids 2, he could make a case for more MLS action.