Reports this morning say the Colorado Rapids are close to signing Ecuadorian international Diego Calderón, which brings two meaningful conclusions to Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
Foremost, the arrival of a commanding center back could improve a defense that certainly needs a bunch of it.
In 2012 new manager Oscar Pareja moved into DSG Park outside Denver, bringing a more possession oriented game. It was a stark contrast to the British-style of longer balls aimed forward, the preferred way of former boss Gary Smith, who rode the lesser aesthetic to an MLS Cup title in 2010.
Pareja’s team struggled to successfully transition into the new way; perhaps the movement out of Colorado of both first-choice strikers, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, will help on the top end of all the desired passing and possession.
But nothing will help the Ws and Ls if Pareja’s gives up goals at the same rate; The Rapids in 2012 allowed 50 goals.
No team in MLS since Chicago in 2005 has made the playoffs while allowing 50 goals.
So, clearly, something needs to be better. That includes more than the back line, by the way. Defending needs to be better in the midfield, and goalkeeper Matt Pickens is mid-pack in the roster of MLS ‘keepers, at best. Calderon’s introduction would be a good place to start, but it’s no more than that.
The other element to explore here is what it does for first-choice Rapids center backs Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor (pictured). Both can and have played along the outside, so there’s always a chance of some back line rearranging here. Or one of them could be move to the bench, with Wynne probably the more likely to take a bump.
He may be the fastest man in MLS, so recovery speed was always his calling card. On the other hand, Wynne’s positioning and ability in the air isn’t as strong.
Wynne, briefly a U.S. international, was a right back before Smith moved him into the center in 2010. This piece at Burgundy Wave makes the case for Wynne to return to his old spot.
Moor has spent time at left back, although that’s clearly not his best spot.