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2022 Season Review: Ralph Priso

Priso couldn’t break into the first team after arriving from Toronto in the summer.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-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

Role: Defensive Midfielder, Central Midfielder

Squad Status: Backup

Season in a Sentence: Despite showing well in a handful of spot starts, Priso couldn’t break into the first team after arriving from Toronto in the summer.

Grade: Incomplete

When the Colorado Rapids dished Mark-Anthony Kaye to Toronto FC for a chunk of allocation money and Ralph Priso in July, the club was betting high on a marquee prospect. The Toronto-born defensive midfielder had already accrued 1,000 MLS minutes as a teenager, had a history of working with Robin Fraser, and could point to a history of call-ups at the youth level with his home country.

Minutes opened up in Colorado’s midfield following Kaye’s departure and Jack Price’s subsequent injury troubles, but Priso didn’t consistently see the field. While he earned two consecutive starts after his midsummer arrival, the highly-touted youngster managed less than 90 minutes across a third of the Rapids’ remaining 12 league fixtures.

There were few, if any, major problems with Priso’s game during his first two starts, which made his exclusion from subsequent matches even more peculiar. His aversion to shooting (0.58 shots per 90, 22nd percentile) and average distribution (80.3% pass completion, 42nd percentile) aside, the data largely backs up Priso’s utility as a ball-wining midfielder. His per 90 marks in tackles (4.62 per 90, 99th percentile), interceptions (1.92 per 90, 95th percentile), and blocks (1.54 per 90, 88th percentile) were all well-above the league average, but Priso couldn’t get off the bench.

Priso’s best performance of the year—a productive substitute appearance in Colorado’s 2-1 road loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps—showed what he could provide on both sides of the ball. That prompted Brendan Ploen of The Denver Post to question Fraser’s decision to keep the youngster consistently sidelined behind a wayward Max.

“I have a group of players, and I get to pick the players every week,” the manager responded bluntly in the post-match press conference. “We needed a player to do a certain job, and Max fit that role.”

Fraser has historically been cautious in incorporating young talent into his first team, and Priso’s excellent showing against the ‘Caps didn’t move the needle on his place in the side. He dropped into MLS Next Pro for a game before getting thrown to the wolves in a rotated squad against MLS’s best offense, and only earned garbage time minutes for the rest of the year.

Looking Forward

Toronto FC didn’t publicize the length of Priso’s contract when he signed the deal that the Rapids traded for during the summer, but Colorado has confirmed that the Canadian Youth International is on the books through the 2023 season. He’ll continue to occupy a supplemental roster spot next season, and will look to earn more minutes among a talented midfield corps that will welcome the return of Price, Oliver Larraz, and Cole Bassett. Considering that Priso had trouble unseating the likes of Bryan Acosta and Collen Warner this past year, the youngster might face a bigger uphill climb for minutes in 2023.

Stats via FBRef.