EDITORIAL – Gyasi Zardes has been traded from Columbus Crew SC to Colorado Rapids. Colorado gave up $300K in 2022 General Allocation Money. There are performance incentives that could increase that to as much as $1.4 million. Last Word on Soccer can confirm Zardes is available for tomorrow’s home match against Charlotte FC. Let’s break down what this Gyasi Zardes trade means for all parties involved.
Reaction: What the Gyasi Zardes trade to Colorado Rapids means for the player and two clubs involved
For Colorado, this is the proven MLS striker they’ve been looking for. Zardes is 30-years-old. He’s scored double digit goals in four of nine professional seasons prior to this year. Despite what cynical USMNT Twitter and YouTube will tell you, he’s a good player in MLS. He has good character and mentality. He’s deservedly a two-time MLS Cup Champion. Yes, his first touch leaves a lot to be desired. But when a coach builds a tactical system around him, he gets chances and scores regularly. Most important, when he has a tap in opportunity, he converts. That’s been the biggest issue for Colorado’s attack going back to last year.
$300,000 in GAM is insignificant by today’s market for double digit goal scorers in MLS. Zardes has one start this year. It’s clear Crew manager Caleb Porter prefers Miguel Berry. This deal fits in perfectly with Padraig Smith’s ethos of the last few years: Buy low on a distressed asset that has fits in with the system and culture. Zardes is a true No. 9 and I believe is compatible with an in form Diego Rubio. Rubio’s best year was 2019 as a secondary striker/false No. 9 behind Kei Kamara in a 4-2-3-1. Robin Fraser is tactically flexible. Playing a 5-3-2 could solve the numbers issue the Burgundy Boys have had in midfield of late. Any two of Rubio, Zardes, and Michael Barrios could be paired together up top and be effective. If Zardes can find his form, he and Rubio should combine for 20 goals. This probably means Jonathan Lewis and Andre Shinyashiki will be on the bench for the rest of the year. It’s a valid question whether both of them stay with Colorado.
Go back to the 5-3-2
Get a third midfielder in that mix
Then play Zardes/Rubio up top.
You’re benching Barrios and Lewis, but neither winger has been effective enough to not justify the move for Zardes.
If we stick Zardes in Rubio’s spot, lord help this team #Rapids96
— Juanners ⚽ (@JuannersFC) April 22, 2022
For Columbus, the performance incentives are their insurance plan should Zardes thrive in his new environment. $1.4 million is the most they could have hoped to get for him within MLS. Porter gets to commit to the Berry experiment. If Zardes crushes it like past players who’ve join Revenge of the Distressed Assets FC, they’ll be compensative. Also, Zardes will be doing it in the other conference. The other big thing here is the open Designated Player spot. He made $1.4 million in 2021. This is probably Colorado’s “big” swing to add to the attack. Columbus can now go DP shopping in the summer. Ownership has shown they’re willing to spend. They’ll need to if they want to fully turn the Black and Gold around after another poor start to the regular season.
For Zardes, he gets to go to maybe the most welcoming locker room in the league. He’s going to a place where he’ll be needed and appreciated, something he was no longer in Central Ohio. He’ll get minutes. Playing at altitude, he’s going to be as fit as he can be at his age. He’ll score goals for a team that should make the playoffs (something I’m not sure can be said about his former club). That is the best situation he can be in to compete for a roster spot with the USMNT at the 2022 World Cup.