COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids are third to last in the MLS Western Conference. Auston Trusty has underwhelmed in the last few months and his loan from Arsenal has ended. No viable replacement within the squad has had a run of games to step in. Last Friday, Colorado traded Mark-Anthony Kaye to Toronto FC for approximately $2 million in assets. The secondary transfer window ends on August 4. General Manager Padraig Smith and head coach Robin Fraser have their work cut out for them.
Padraig Smith: “We are not giving up on this season” with the secondary transfer window open
Trusty’s final months in Burgundy were disappointing. The Kaye trade marks an inflection point in this season, possibly in the Fraser Era. With three and half weeks left in the transfer window, here’s some thoughts on recent moves, this window, and more.
They’re not as far away, sort of.
Yes the team is in 12th. They are seven points behind 7th place Nashville SC. They’ve also been one of the most unlucky teams in the league this year. They have an xG of 28.0 and an xGA of 23.0. Those actual stats are 21 and 26 respectively. They should have seven more goals scored and three less conceded, converting their -5 GD to a +5. Over the weekend they drew RSL 2-2. Statistically, they should have won 3-1. Now one could argue this is just an indication that the Rapids are below average finishers where other MLS teams with DP strikers are above average finishers. If Gyasi Zardes and others can be average in the second half of the year, that should net them a few points advantage on the teams their chasing. That is a big if.
Trusty was not great, but he probably was not as bad as you think. Regardless, I’m skeptical about the options in house.
The Arsenal man has gotten a lot of criticism from Rapids fans this year, especially in what proved to be his final game on the 4th of July. He’s been the last man defending the goal scorer too many times. See the games against Nashville, San Jose, Minnesota, and Austin. If you take a closer look on some of those goals, there was a defensive breakdown due to someone else not doing their job and Trusty had to react to prevent a goal. Wilson ducks under a ball he could have intercepted on the first goal last Monday. On the second, he’s way out of position. Trusty has regressed from last year. So has every other defender. Trusty looks bad on many of these highlights but the goals are not all his fault.
Gustavo Vallecilla was coming back from injury when he was traded from Cincinnati. Mike Edwards has been with Rapids 2 and injured. When Fraser’s gone with a back four, Danny Wilson and Lalas Abubakar get exposed in more 1-v-1 scenarios. If Keegan Rosenberry moves to center back, you’re relying on Steven Beitashour and Sebastian Anderson to play well at right back for half a year. If there was a better option already, Trusty wouldn’t have started 16 of 17 league games this year. Fraser’s going to have to try something less reliable starting Wednesday. It’ll probably be Vallecilla.
Trusty initially was supposed to be with Colorado through the 17th of this month. That has since changed to fit Arsenal’s needs and their plans for the player to go on loan:
“I threw in that date and hoping that we’d be able to keep him through the Galaxy game. We knew that once the loanie club got involved, they were going to want him over early. We were going to work to put Auston in the best position succeed. It was a little but of a cheeky request. The game on Monday was his last one for us,” Smith confirmed over the weekend.
Smith wants to be active this window: “We are not giving up on this season by any stretch of the imagination.”
“I know we can get over this and I know we can put ourselves in a position to challenge for the playoffs and I fully expect us to be competitive and I think that will be seen in what we do in this window. We are not giving up on this season by any stretch,” Smith told Last Word on Soccer, adding “[this trade] gets us various different assets that we believe we can use to make the roster better in both the short and long term. We will be active.”
Much of the fanbase thinks the Kaye trade indicates the start of rebuild. Smith has a little over three weeks to make a big signing (preferably two) to make good on the words above.
Colorado got a haul for Kaye. They couldn’t say no. Ralph Priso is part of the future, but could be part of the present?
You can see my full thoughts on the Kaye trade here. Kaye was not productive this year. They bought him for $1.2 million. He recorded four goals and three assists in 11 months. Colorado then sold him for $2 million in assets, possibly $2.5 million. Smith bought at the start of this increase in value for domestic players moving within MLS. He’s now sold two players for top value in the last six months. Talk about timing the market. Every player has a price. He named it and Toronto gave them too good an offer.
Priso is a great young talent. Unless a trade for Latif Blessing is in the works, Fraser needs all the options in midfield he can get. Jack Price needs to get and stay healthy. Brian Acosta and Collen Warner need to be at their best. Max Alves needs to start producing in the final third. Priso is mainly a No. 6. He could back up Price, maybe fill in for Acosta. If he can start contributing right away, it would be a big help.
At least one big addition is needed, but existing players need to step up.
“Long term, we’re certainly going to look to bring in another center back to challenge. And we also now are looking at bringing in an 8 that’s going to reinforce the midfield,” Smith told Last Word Saturday afternoon. “Simply we’re not performing at the right level. Do we need to bring someone else in that is going to give us a cutting edge in the attaching third? That’s something we’re looking at.”
Between the existing war chest and what they got for Kaye, Colorado has enough to pull off a Blessing level signing. A $1 million trade for a Blessing-level player is the minimum needed from this window for the Rapids to prove they’re not punting on this season. It might require another though. Would you trade Lalas Abubakar for a half a million and play Vallecilla in a back four if it meant getting another midfielder?
Baring the front office mortgaging the farm this window, the existing roster needs to step up. Gyasi Zardes needs to start scoring goals. Jonathan Lewis and Michael Barrios need to be more consistent. The defense needs to bring the focus and mentality to stop leaking goals. If all of that happens, they stay healthy, and reinforcements arrive, they should make the playoffs. I increasingly think this team will need a reset with 4-5 key moves in the offseason.
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB