TIm Howard

Colorado Rapids 2018 Season Preview by Benjamin Bellman

Well, that didn't go the way I thought it would. After the Rapids were one week away from winning the Supporter’s Shield in 2016, 2017 saw them finish third from bottom in MLS with 33 points, and brought the end of Pablo Mastroeni’s tenure as head coach. Anthony Hudson, previously the manager of the New Zealand men’s national team, will now lead the club at the beginning of a new era in many ways, as Colorado’s front office has also seen major turnover. Club president Tim Hinchey and technical director Paul Bravo both left in the last year or two, and Pádraig Smith, who first arrived in 2015, now runs the show as “Executive Vice President and General Manager.”

2017 In Review

The third game of 2017 foreshadowed the colossal disappointment of the rest of the season. Minnesota United, after losing their first two matches by a combined score of 11-2, managed their first ever MLS point, down a man in Commerce City, drawing 2-2. Then, the Loons further swindled the Rapids by trading for defensive stalwarts Marc Burch and team captain Sam Cronin. Colorado received Josh Gatt and Mohammed Saied, but in hindsight, this was the moment their season ended. After letting in fewer than a goal a game in 2016, the Rapids let in 51 goals in 2017, and posted a fourth-worst xGA of 52.94. Injuries took their toll. Axel Sjöberg, a finalist for defender of the year in 2016, struggled to stay on the field (1,637 minutes, down from 2,772). Sheklzen Gashi, who made some real magic happen out of slim pickings in 2016, could only muster two goals and 1,034 minutes as one of the Rapids’ Designated Players.

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Tim Howard, Frank Rost, and MLS' Abandonment of the Average American Player by Bill Reno

The offseason is a truly wonderful time for every backup player. Will this be the offseason their hard work is rewarded? Perhaps they'll receive a new contract with their current club. Maybe they will move up the depth chart or see greener pastures with a new team. The winter break changes teams’ concerns from what players have done last season to what the players could do next year. For backups and fringe starters, the starting of a new season offers hope in a variety of ways.

As ASA’s resident goalkeeper dude, the offseason carousel is truly a righteous ride. Each new year holds the potential of a Tim Melia: a goalkeeper who was passed on by every team in the league only to become the best. And then there are the Sean Johnsons and Joe Bendiks, players whose careers are finally ready for a positive turn with a new team. But don’t forget about the youngsters, like Alex Bono and Zack Steffen, who are given a chance to take the reins despite being a little green. With all these positive strides in the league, I was curious about the most important position’s payment for their services.

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ASA First Touch: Colorado's waste of resources by ASA Staff

Finally, the Secretary of Defense is home. Though the game ended in the dreaded 0-0 tie, Tim Howard’s debut with the Rapids was surely the biggest storyline of the week. When his signing was originally announced, there was no doubt he would take over immediately as the starter, but it did create a tremor of controversy.  Are the Rapids really best served by changing their goalkeeper after letting in the fewest goals of any team after 16 games?

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