Role: Central Defender
Squad Status: Loaned Out
Season in a Sentence: Edwards proved himself at a lower level for the second consecutive season, but his future with the Rapids is uncertain.
Michael Edwards’ second season with the Colorado Rapids was much like his first. The 21-year-old central defender opened the year with the newly-formed Rapids 2 team in MLS Next Pro, and was a prominent fixture of the B team’s back line throughout their inaugural season.
The Virginia native played nearly a thousand minutes with Rapids 2 across ten appearances, and he would have certainly added to that total had he not sustained an undisclosed injury during the MLS Next Pro season. Edwards was a visibly vocal leader at the back, and the team’s performances suffered when he wasn’t with the side.
While R2 was rarely lauded for their defensive rigidity during the season, Edwards wasn’t the culprit behind the club’s woes at the back. He was the second-best player on the squad in interceptions per 90 (2.24) and duel winning percentage (61.8%)—important metrics for a defender that typically sat in the middle of a back three. He also finished the season as the team’s most reliable passer among players that made at least five appearances.
Edwards joined the USL’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on loan shortly after Rapids 2 officially were eliminated from postseason contention. The young homegrown immediately won back the trust of manager Brendan Burke and became a reliable fixture on the lower division club’s back line. Burke had previously mentored Edwards during the defender’s 2021 loan stint in the Springs, and that relationship paid dividends when the pair were reunited.
Though the Switchbacks weren’t able to overtake Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal SC or the dominating San Antonio FC, Edwards’ versatility along the Springs’ back line helped the club guarantee a home playoff game. He got seven regular season starts heading into the post-season, played well as a wide center back, and filled-in at right fullback during some stretches. Edwards’ name was written in pen on all three of the Switchbacks’ postseason lineups. He posted a shutout in the club’s 3-0 round one fixture against Orange County SC and went 120 minutes in their subsequent win over Sacramento Republic before losing a nail-biter to the eventual champs in the Western Conference Final.
The Rapids declined to exercise their one-year team option on Edwards’ $84,000 salary at the end of the season, but the club has confirmed that they’re in negotiations to bring him back next year. He’s proved himself in the lower divisions, but hasn’t really got a shot in MLS yet. Like a lot of young homegrowns during the Robin Fraser era, Edwards has found it difficult to break into the first team—an especially notable development considering the club’s porous defense in 2022. His future is up in the air, but the 21-year-old still has plenty of development runway left.