EDITORIAL – Last Word on Soccer in conjunction with the Colorado Rapids independent media are excited to announce the fifth annual Colorado Rapids Independent Press Corps Season Awards. As the independent media covering this team, we take seriously the opportunity to cover the 2022 Colorado Rapids season and objectively cover the club. This article is a reflection of that. Think of this as a constructive and independent version of the awards at A Burgundy Affair. Members of the media from The Denver Post, The Denver Gazette, Last Word on Soccer, Burgundy Wave, DNVR, Rapids Rant, MLS Now, Nuts and Bolts Sports, josephsamelson.com, and Holding The High Line were invited to participate.
2022 Colorado Rapids Independent Press Corps Season Awards
Player of the Year:
The most outstanding player for the club in 2022.
Winner: Diego Rubio
“Was there any doubt? Rubio won every single first place vote that we’re not even going to announce a runner up. From the first day of preseason, he was goal hungry and tenacious. His Concacafing was excellent this year and mostly helped the team. He was the single consistent chance creator from the run of play and made all the attackers around him better. Upon the arrival of Gyasi Zardes, he moved into a central midfield role without complaint. The 29-year-old worked tirelessly. Going into Sunday, he has 15 goals and seven assists, one goal away from tying the single season club record set by Conor Casey in 2009. Given the lack of help around him, this is the most impressive individual season for a forward in club history.” – Matt Pollard, Last Word on Sports
Newcomer of the Year:
The most outstanding player who was in their first year with the club.
Winner: Gyasi Zardes
“Most of Colorado’s incoming acquisitions struggled during various stretches of the season, but Gyasi Zardes still bagged nine goals and two assists ahead of Decision Day. His hat trick against Minnesota United was arguably the best single-game performance by any individual Rapids player in 2022.” – Joseph Samelson, josephsamelson.com
Young Player of the Year:
The most outstanding player aged 23 or younger as of January 1, 2022, based on first team and Rapids 2 performances.
Winner: Lucas Esteves
Runner-Up: Dantouma “Yaya” Toure
“It took me a minute to realize this, but Lucas Esteves is still 22. Personally, I still think it shows. He’s talented but is still raw and unpredictable, which makes the future still exciting — though it will come at a cost. After he had his loan extended in July through the end of the season, he played with more confidence and it showed in total shot creation actions (44) and a strong passing rate (77) down the left-hand side. Now, the Rapids will have to pay Palmerias a big price if they really want him to stay.” – Brendan Ploen, The Denver Post
Underrated Player of the Year:
The most undervalued/unsung player.
Winner: Felipe Gutiérrez
Runner-Up: Steven Beitashour
“+0.89 Goals Added in just 813 minutes. He was pretty good for a team that was pretty bad.” – Mark Goodman, Holding The High Line
Rapids 2 Loaned Player of the Year:
The most outstanding player on a first team contract who made at least 12 appearances for R2, all competitions.
Winner: Dantouma “Yaya” Toure
Runner-Up: Abraham Rodriguez
“Toure was consistently one of Rapids 2’s most-threatening attacking options on the wings, and the homegrown finished the year as the team’s top scorer with eight goals and two assists in 15 appearances in MLS Next Pro. He was destined to add to that tally had he not torn his ACL during a first team cameo 11 days after his first MLS goal.” – Joseph Samelson, josephsamelson.com
Rapids 2 Contracted Player of the Year:
The most outstanding Rapids 2 player who was on a professional and amateur MLS NEXT Pro contract.
Winner: Yosuke Hanya
Runner-Up: Robinson Aguirre
“My dude from the opening game — He was consistent across the board when few others were. He progressed so much that he was training consistently with the first team by the end of the year and I think he’s got a shot to make the first-team roster. 22 starts, 4 goals, 3 assists and nearly an 80% pass rate.” – Brendan Ploen, The Denver Post
Injured Player of the Year:
The player whose injury most affected the first team.
Winner: Jack Price
Runner-Up: Braian Galván
“The Rapids averaged 1.47 PPG with Price in the lineup, and just under a point without. Coming into Sunday, he’s played in just 17 of 33 regular season games due to a calf injury then a fractured rib and punctured lung. He’s the most important player on attacking set pieces for this team, other than maybe Rubio. He’s the most important player to playing out of the back. The midfield was a mess this year due to departures, inexperience, and lack of physicality. A healthy Jack Price for 34 games makes that problem a lot smaller and would have better protected a center back corps that took a step back this year. If Price is healthy, this team makes the playoffs. There’s no doubt in my mind.” – Matt Pollard, Last Word on Sports
Best Game of the Year:
The most impressive result or performance of the season.
Winner: 5-4 at New York Red Bulls on August 2
Runner-Up: 2-0 at home vs LAFC on May 14
Worst Game of the Year:
The least impressive/most disappointing result/performance.
Winner: 6-0 loss at Philadelphia Union on August 27
Runner-Up: 4-1 loss at Nashville SC on August 31
The Rapids Press Corps respects the mental health of the Rapids Community. For those reasons, we have not embedded video highlights of these games. We would recommend you not watch these. Ever. Again.
Goal of the Year:
The most significant/memorable goal of the season, including PKs.
Winner: Keegan Rosenberry vs San Jose Earthquakes on September 14 in a 2-1 win.
Take it yourself! 🎯
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 15, 2022
Play of the Year:
The most significant/memorable play of the year that was not a goal. Assists are eligible including assists to goals that are nominated for Goal of the Year.
Winner: The passing sequence leading up to Gyasi Zardes’ goal against Vancouver Whitecaps on September 10.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 11, 2022
Story of the Year:
The most significant/memorable narrative/talking point around the club.
Winner: Going from first in the Western Conference to missing the playoffs whilst selling off several player that had important roles in 2021.
Runner-Up: All the injuries in key positions that took away depth.
Quote of the Year:
The quote that stands out the most from any Rapids player, coach, or front office member.
Winner: “This is not the last deal we’re going to make in this window. This is the first of what I certainly believe is going to be a very active window for us.”” – Padraig Smith
Runner-Up: “A number of the goals we’ve given up recently have been individual mistakes.” – Robin Fraser
This aged poorly.
Richard Flemming and Marcelo Balboa Shoutout:
There’s no award or winner for this. Tell us a personal story about them, something you love about them, or something you will miss about them.
Joseph Samelson: Pick that one out, Shkelzen Gashi! Practice makes perfect!
Rapids Rant: Just watching and listening to Marcelo and Fleming for so long they became part of the team. Halloween costumes matches were my favorite every year. One of them was wearing an Incredibles costume and the Rapids won that day. The camaraderie that this announcer team exhibited is hard to come by in media. We were really lucky to have that for more than a decade as Rapids fans.
Nick Holmberg: One thing to share however is how much I look forward to a Richard Fleming calling a long distance, powerful strike. So energetic! With Marcelo, I always enjoy the break down of a play, especially on the defensive side of the ball. A real joy to have a team with so much chemistry and passion. Will sorely miss the fellas!
Mark Goodman: I have two. I remember standing with Richard and his family at a pre season event in 2017 and he was bragging about how his son was really enjoying U10 football and his daughter wanted to play rec football because she didn’t want to deal with the pressure of it but just loved playing. And I just thought – Richard has just such a lovely family. A broadcaster who’s also a great dad and husband seems like a special thing. Marcelo was always so gracious. I remember standing outside of training one day on the berm overlooking Field 20 and he was just chewing our ears off with stories about the U15s, the USMNT, the senior team, memories from ’94. Dude is just totally happy to talk and think about soccer dawn till dusk, and he’s incredibly generous with his time and polite to everyone. What a guy.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.