- Won MLS Cup in 2010
- Missed playoffs last season
- Allowed an uncharacteristic 62 goals in 2014
[ RELATED: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]
Key Player: Juan Ramirez
Forgive yourself if the name is unfamiliar; Colorado just signed the 21-year-old 11 days ago as the club’s second Designated Player in history. The flashy midfielder was compared to Vicente Sanchez by Rapids technical director Paul Bravo, and Colorado has to hope the former helps the latter become a more prolific scorer. Bravo and company talk about Ramirez as a long-term player, but the Rapids need him to be effective quickly if they hope to do anything in a tough Western Conference.
Other names to watch: Dillon Powers, Shane O’Neill, Marcelo Sarvas.
Manager: Pablo Mastroeni
When Oscar Pareja left Colorado in the lurch left season, Mastroeni had mere months to make an omelet with another man’s ingredients. It wasn’t very good, with Colorado falling out of the playoff picture and struggling to find an identity. Enter a variety of players for 2015 who could really make a difference in a hurry should the club stay healthy. There’s Sarvas, who was part of a solid midfield in Los Angeles last season, as well as Michael Harrington (Portland) in the back and unheralded Sam Cronin (San Jose) in the middle of the park.
Mastroeni is being pegged as a potential “first to be fired” candidate this season, and that’s not a shot in the dark. But the respected on-field leader could also be a leader in bringing the Rapids into a surprising battle for a playoff spot.
Outlook for 2015
It could be a dark year in Commerce City, but don’t forget that this was a promising young team that floundered last year. Sarvas and Harrington will be in the locker room with Ramirez, O’Neill, Deshorn Brown and Powers, the latter of whom is an exceptional talent. Again, it’s a loaded conference, but Colorado will look to — and could — surprise many. Perhaps it’s more likely they are a year and a couple players away from playoff relevance. That doesn’t mean they won’t be fun to watch, and provide us with plenty of good moments.