Role: Striker, Winger
Squad Status: Departed
Season in a Sentence: Colorado traded the 2019 Rookie of the Year to Charlotte FC after three years of service, but the forward still struggled to earn consistent starting minutes at his new club.
Andre Shinyashiki’s first season with the Rapids was straight out of a fairy tale. The Rapids traded up to select the local University of Denver standout in the first round of 2019’s SuperDraft, and the Brazilian rewarded the club by rescuing a draw in stoppage time during his debut as a substitute. Shinyashiki went on to represent Colorado with aplomb, and proved to be a rare bright spot for the club during their disappointing 2019 campaign. He earned the league’s last-ever “Rookie of the Year” honor before the award was expanded to include performances from all Under-22 players for 2020.
But Shinyashiki’s impact slowly declined in the years that followed his rookie season. While the forward continued earning a significant share of game time with the club, he didn’t produce at the same rate during his 13 starts during across the Rapids’ 18 league matches in 2020.
He started five straight games to open 2021, but quickly lost his spot thanks to Michael Barrios, who had joined the club in the off-season following the Pandemic-suppressed year. Shinyashiki’s minutes continued to decline with Jonathan Lewis’ play, and Rapids manager Robin Fraser regularly opted to deploy Cole Bassett or Mark-Anthony Kaye in wide roles instead of giving the Brazilian a start. Shinyashiki increasingly got minutes in a deeper-lying forward role, moving further away from goal, further reducing his offensive output. That was probably frustrating for the then-26-year-old versatile forward, who was undoubtedly looking for a significant raise over his barely-six-figures draft contract ahead of its expiration at the end of 2022.
Given how effectively Colorado played in 2021, it’s not really worthwhile to blame Fraser for limiting Shinyashiki’s minutes. Despite putting in a strong 2019 campaign for the club, Shinyashiki struggled to replicate those efforts in the years that followed Anthony Hudson’s departure. He couldn’t match Lewis’ dribbling, didn’t impact matches as often as Barrios, and—though he scored once in the Rapids’ 3-0 early season rout of Atlanta United—Shinyashiki wasn’t a significant factor off the bench. When Diego Rubio started the year on fire and Gyasi Zardes joined in April, Shinyashiki’s departure from the club seemed inevitable.
Colorado reportedly entertained a host of offers for his services, and expansion club Charlotte FC won out by offering $225,000 in guaranteed General Allocation Money, an additional batch of $175,000 of conditional allocation, and 50% of any future trade fee for Shinyashiki’s rights.
The prevailing narrative among Rapids supporters in the wake of Shinyashiki’s departure was that the forward needed a place where he could get regular minutes at striker. Like Nicolás Mezquida, he was destined for a super-sub role if he stuck around in Colorado. But unlike Mezquida, Shinyashiki still had the bulk of his career in front of him. With his deal due to expire at the end of the season and Zardes’ arrival set to impact the Brazilian’s case for minutes, a move elsewhere made sense.
The reality was a bit more complicated. Shinyashiki did get occasional minutes as a striker for his new club, but most of his game time for the Carolinian team—including when he scored the winning goal in his debut—came when he played out wide. All but two of Shinyashiki’s seven MLS goals in 2022 came from the right or left wing, and the Brazilian found it hard to unseat Charlotte’s Mexican talisman Daniel Ríos up top.
Shinyashiki’s consistent minutes also declined overall as Charlotte shook off their slow start and began to show improvement through the summer months. While six of his first seven MLS appearances for the Queen City club were starts, Shinyashiki never played a full 90 after June and came off the bench for all-but-two of his remaining fourteen showings. Those reduced minutes came despite the forward agreeing to a new, long-term contract in late August.
Shinyashiki gave the Rapids a lot to ponder when he bagged a game-winning goal in his Charlotte debut that—clear weather aside—drew plenty of similarities to his first-ever match in Burgundy. While he went on to have a solid season on the East coast, he still didn’t prove to be a reliable starter for his new team. That seems to initially validate Colorado’s decision to move on, but the “winner” of the trade will certainly be determined by Shinyashiki’s impact relative to his new (but still unknown) salary over his next three seasons with Charlotte.
For now, it’s looking like the trade is trending in a positive direction for the Rapids, but the Brazilian forward will have his say in mid-April when Colorado travels to challenge Charlotte in their first of seven inter-conference clashes in 2023.
Stats via FBref.