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2022 Season Review: Collen Warner

The Rapids waived Warner at the end of 2022 following the Colorado native’s three-year stint in Burgundy as a veteran presence in the club’s midfield.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-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

Squad Status: Departed

Season in a Sentence: The Rapids waived Warner at the end of 2022 following the Colorado native’s three-year stint in Burgundy as a veteran presence in the club’s midfield.

Grade: C+

When Robin Fraser and the Colorado Rapids needed reinforcements in midfield due to fixture congestion, injuries, or suspensions, Collen Warner rose to the challenge.

Since he joined the club in 2020 following a brief stint with Danish club FC Helsingør, the most recent player to cross the Continental Divide served his backup role with aplomb. While the no-frills defensive midfielder didn’t offer much in the way of creativity, pace, or passing, Warner generally proved to be a reliable fallback as a midfield destroyer during his time with the club. His regular tactical duties involved sitting in front of the club’s defensive line to clean up loose balls, make important tackles, and obstruct passing lanes.

Warner was a known quantity for Colorado’s coaching staff. Like Steven Beitashour, the MLS veteran’s time in the mid-2010s with Toronto FC briefly overlapped with Fraser’s stint as assistant manager under Greg Vanney. Fraser largely knew what he was going to get out of Warner in any given match, and the manager usually utilized the midfielder sparingly and effectively.

In 2022, Warner showed his consistency across 640 MLS minutes—the vast majority of which came as a substitute. He averaged 1.69 blocks per 90 (94th percentile), 1.69 aerials won per 90 (91st percentile) and 2.25 tackles per 90 (68th percentile). His teammates rarely got him the ball in an attacking position (0.28 progressive passes received per 90, 2nd percentile), and he seldom found his way into the opponents’ box (0.56 touches in attacking penalty area per 90, 24th percentile).

But the problem with one-trick ponies in the midfield is that teams have to do a lot of work to minimize their weaknesses. When Warner entered matches for Colorado, the club often had to reorganize their midfield or attacking play to supplement the veteran’s below-average distribution (81.8% passing, 47th percentile; 40.08 live-ball passes per 90, 33rd percentile). For a team that has relied heavily on midfielders pinging long balls or delivering pitch-perfect switches, Warner’s inclusion typically meant that the club was forgoing a more versatile player in the middle. It also usually led to a more defensive shape for a Rapids side that was consistently chasing matches in 2022.

Warner did a solid job as a defensively-minded substitute to protect leads in home fixtures against the Seattle Sounders, Minnesota United, and the LA Galaxy, but Colorado only won one of the six league matches in which he started. That game was the bonkers 5-4 barn-burner against the New York Red Bulls, and—credit to Warner—the Rapids would not have won without his right-place-at-the-right-time tap-in. He also scored this goal-of-the-year contender with Rapids 2 during one of his three MLS Next Pro appearances:

Looking Forward

Warner was under contract with Colorado through the 2023 season, but the Rapids put him on waivers days before Christmas. He’ll get paid by the league through next season even if he can’t find a team, but he won’t take up a roster spot next year. His backup minutes should theoretically fall to a recovering Oliver Larraz or highly-touted Canadian Youth International Ralph Priso.

Stats via FBRef.