(Editorial) – Luis Solignac was not locks for the Colorado Rapids Starting XI going into this season. He might not have even been guaranteed spots in the 18. Solignac was not one of the two attacking Designated Players on the roster. Since Kevin Doyle’s injury however, he’s been starting and impressing Pablo Mastroeni. He’s getting minutes and rightfully so. Let’s break it down.
Striker Luis Solignac Earning Minutes And Impressing For Rapids
Solignac might not have the cache of Shkelzen Gashi or Doyle, but he’s gotten the job done this season.
The Argentine was signed by the Rapids last May. He played in 15 games last season, recording 2 assists. He didn’t score a single goal in 1232 minutes last year though. Some of this was due to being a foreigner adjusting to MLS. Some of it was the team around him being poor. Some of it was due to him not playing well.
This season however, the 24-year-old is as rejuvenated just as much as the team as a whole. He’s not the best attacking player, but he’s a puzzle piece that fits the system very well. He fills a similar role to Maximiliano Urruti with FC Dallas. He has a good cohesive midfield behind of him with good wide play and a solid (albeit unorthodox) No. 10.
The attack either funnels through him or around him. Solignac is either getting on the end of chances or occupying defenders such that someone else is getting an open look. He’s not the best offensive threat on the field, but he doesn’t have to be. He plays his role and thus is a reliable cog in the machine.
Solignac has started the last 5 games, recording 3 goals and 1 assist. The Rapids are 4-1 in that stretch. It’s not just his numbers though, it’s how he’s contributing to the attack.
Take is first goal of the season against Toronto. Toronto FC is down to ten men and Marco Pappa makes a run through the middle. He draws the attention of almost the entire TFC defense. That gives Solignac the chance to make a run into the box. Pappa chips the ball over the defense. Solignac is able to collect it and finish.
Pappa had the more spectacular play in the sequence, but Solignac’s run shows positional awareness. The finish was pretty good too. The same thing goes for his goals against Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders. Solignac might not be the fastest player on the team, but when he times his runs as well as he did on these two goals, he is going to get open. His midfield play makers will get him the ball. All he has to do is finish and he’s done that in 2016.
Solignac is finally showing how effective of a poacher he can be. As long as he keeps getting in good spots and his midfield keeps feeding him the ball, he’ll continue to score. As defenses adjust to shut him down, they’ll leave open space for Pappa, Jermaine Jones, and Dominique Badji to work.
One issue the Rapids attack could be facing is change to the system once Doyle returns to the lineup. Doyle is a DP who made over $1 million last season. Solignac made just over $65k. There’s no way Doyle isn’t playing if he’s fit.
Doyle is still returning to full fitness. For now Solignac has proven his worth. He’s a value and a bargain. The striker brings something unique to the squad, as a starter or off the bench.
In a vacuum, Doyle might be a better player, but the Rapids might actually be a better team with Solignac up top. We’ll have to wait and see what Mastroeni does.