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2022 Season Review: Dantouma Toure

Toure was on the verge of a breaking out for the first team when he tore his ACL

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Kelvin Kuo-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: Winger

Squad Status: Backup

Season in a Sentence: Toure was on the verge of a breaking out for the first team when he tore his ACL during stoppage time in his sixth MLS appearance with the Rapids.

Grade: Incomplete

Fans and media levied plenty of criticisms on MLS Next Pro’s inaugural season, but the introduction of the new reserve league breathed new life into Dantouma Toure’s career in 2022.

Like Abraham Rodriguez, Toure had trouble earning consistent minutes with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks at the USL level. He played in 22 games during the 2021 season when he was on loan with the lower division side, but only started five times and finished the season after accumulating a mere 644 minutes. He did make his MLS debut during July by coming on as a late substitute for the Colorado Rapids during the club’s 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, but quickly returned to the Springs for the rest of the year.

The Guinean-American’s three goals raised enough eyebrows to help him earn a training spell with Arsenal during the ensuing off-season, and the prospect quickly became one of R2’s standout attacking talents in 2022. Toure earned the trust of Erik Bushey early on, and the forward rewarded the Rapids 2 manager by scoring seven times in his 1,200-plus minutes in MLSNP—more than any other member of the reserve squad.

The strong showings gave way to a handful of bench appearances for the senior side, and Toure continued his good form. He grabbed a brace in consecutive games for Rapids 2 before netting the winner in the reserve side’s MLS Next Pro Invitational outing against the Wolverhampton Wanderers U21s. He kept that hot streak going for the senior team when he opened his MLS account by scoring the deciding goal in Colorado’s only road win of the season—a 5-4 shootout against his former club.

That decisive goal came shortly after the forward had a previous effort waved away by the officials, but Toure showed his class by continuing to look for opportunities late in the match. Robin Fraser went on to praise the forward In the post-match press conference, and highlighted the swift-footed winger’s nose for goal.

“We needed some pace, and he was really threatening from minute one,” Fraser said. “For him to score one, have it taken away and then put himself in a position to score a second one is really, really fantastic. I’m really, really happy for him.”

The script was written for Toure to earn consistent minutes off the bench and ease his way into the first team in the following weeks. He added to his tally by scoring in his fourth-straight R2 match four days later against Minnesota United’s B squad, but disaster struck when the homegrown earned another substitute appearance the next week against the Columbus Crew.

Fraser was looking for Toure to grab a winner during the final four minutes of the game, but the youngster pulled-up sharply with a non-contact injury right as stoppage time began and had to exit the match early. Less than two weeks later, the Rapids confirmed everyone’s worst fears by announcing that the homegrown had to undergo surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, as well as his medial and lateral meniscus. As a result, Toure became the third Rapids’ player to sustain a season-ending ACL injury (Braian Galván and Aboubacar Keita) as well as the fifth to undergo season-ending surgery of any type during the season (Oliver Larraz and Jackson Travis).

Looking Forward

Colorado didn’t announce the winger’s expected recovery period, but the unfortunate timing of his late-season injury means he’ll likely be on the mend through most—if not all—of the 2023 season. While he could theoretically find his way back on the pitch in the months following his 19th birthday in mid-June, there’s no reason to rush him back and risk re-injury. Even if he gets back on his feet relatively quickly, he might find it difficult to work his way into Colorado’s crowded winger corps that will include new arrivals Kévin Cabral and Calvin Harris next season.

According to the Rapids, Toure is on contract through the 2024 season, with club-held options for 2025 and 2026. That probably means that, assuming the best-case recovery scenario, most of Toure’s 2023 minutes will once again come as a Rapids 2 player. That’s roughly how it went for Sebastian Anderson with the Switchbacks following his mid-season meniscus surgery in 2020, but it’s worth noting that this is Toure’s second bout with a major knee injury. It’s possible fans might not see him with the first team until the last guaranteed year of his deal. That timeline should still provide the club enough information to determine his future with the side, but that future will hinge on his post-recovery performances.

Stats via MLS Next Pro.