clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 Season Review: Anthony Markanich

Markanich impressed on the defensive side of the ball with Rapids 2 in 2022.

MLS: Nashville SC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This is part of a series of individual player reviews by Joseph Samelson. You can follow him on Twitter @jspsam and read his work elsewhere at josephsamelson.com.

Role: Wing Back, Center Back

Squad Status: Backup

Season in a Sentence: Markanich impressed on the defensive side of the ball with Rapids 2 in 2022, but needs to improve his attacking play to earn consistent first team minutes in 2023 and beyond.

Grade: Incomplete

It’s been a minute since the Colorado Rapids have managed to extract significant value from the SuperDraft. The club brought in the 2019 Rookie of the Year by drafting Andre Shinyashiki ahead of Anthony Hudson’s final season in charge, but Colorado’s subsequent three SuperDraft signings in as many seasons haven’t made the same immediate impact.

Like Jeremy Kelly and Philip Mayaka before him, Anthony Markanich—the Rapids’ sole signing from the 2022 edition of MLS’s annual college pick ‘em—hasn’t managed to earn regular playing time at the MLS level. The left back only earned 234 minutes across three league appearances this season, but he did add a 90-minute shift during the Rapids’ multi-day U.S. Open Cup loss to Minnesota United. While he generally ranged from iffy-to-average during most of those minutes, Markanich can proudly point to his phenomenal showing in Colorado’s home match against the Seattle Sounders as evidence that he belongs with the side.

The Northern Illinois product spent most of his time in 2022 with Rapids 2. Markanich appeared in half of the B team’s league games, and played every minute of the squad’s invitational match against the Wolverhampton Wanderers U21s. He scored his only goal of the year in that match when he got his head on a well-taken free kick from Salvadoran International Robinson Aguirre.

While the youngster looked largely up to the challenge in MLS Next Pro, Markanich didn’t always look comfortable when manager Erik Bushey tasked him with attacking responsibilities. Markanich historically played more defensively at the collegiate level, and performed admirably when deployed as an outside central defender in a back three in Burgundy. His struggles in the final third were likely the reason he couldn’t ever unseat Lucas Esteves’ spot as the “Vines Back” in Robin Fraser’s system.

Despite playing most of his minutes in an attacking wing back role with R2, Markanich never recorded a goal or assist in MLS Next Pro. He only completed four crosses in his 12 lower league appearances, and center back Michael Edwards—who spent most of his time in the middle of a back three—recorded the same number of key passes (4) in fewer minutes.

But there’s quite a lot to like about Markanich from a defensive perspective. His duel winning percentage of 65.3% out-matched any other Rapids 2 player (min. 5 appearances) during the season, and no one on the side even came close to sniffing his win rate on contested headers (81.8%). Only Mayaka and Omar Gómez recorded more interceptions than Markanich (25) for R2 in MLS Next Pro.

Looking Forward

The Rapids exercised the first of three options in Markanich’s cap-free contract at the end of the 2022 season, and the soon-to-be 23-year-old will certainly have another shot to work his way into the club’s starting lineups next year.

Following the departure of Lucas Esteves, Markanich could be slated for more minutes at wing back during 2023, but it’s far more likely that the club adds a reliable starter at the position. Given his strong defensive work rate and minimal offensive contributions, Markanich’s talents would probably be a better fit for the Auston Trusty-esque left central back role in Fraser’s back three. Like Trusty, Markanich has been strong in the air and has showed well when limited to fewer attacking runs. Regardless, Colorado’s upcoming preseason friendlies should give supporters a better idea of his future with the side.