The Lackadaisical Final Third [Part 1]

It’s no secret that the Rapids lack that final punch in the attacking third of the field. The Pids can pass the ball between our diamond all they want but when it comes down to creating chances and scoring goals they struggle to do just that. But why is that? Simple: the Rapids don’t have a creative midfield #10 that can solve that issue. And even if they did, there’s still no guarantee that our strikers will finish every chance. My last article brought up the issue that Dillon Serna isn’t the #10 that most Rapids fans want him to be. The Rapids need an attacking midfielder that can make plays and can create some magic in the final third. They also need someone that can receive the ball and finish. Jack McBean, Sam Nicholson, and Niki Jackson aren’t going to cut it up top. They are all great super sub-options for different reasons and they can make great striker sidekicks, but building around a better striker is the smarter way to go. They need a proven finisher, more specifically, a proven finisher in MLS. But who could they go for?

Before we can assess what the Rapids need, we’ll first have to look into the past and see how the Rapids have failed in striker acquisitions. I looked back until 2015 and have come up with the following forwards. The following are players who were brought in from other leagues around the world:

  • Gabriel Torres
  • Giles Barnes
  • Yannick Boli
  • Joe Mason
  • Kevin Doyle
  • Stefan Aigner
  • Luis Solignac

Out of those 7, only one player, Giles Barnes, has had actual experience in MLS. Everyone else was newcomers to the league. The other 7 were all trades within MLS and drafted by the club. They are as follow:

  • Dominique Badji (drafted)
  • Niki Jackson (drafted)
  • Sebastien Le Toux
  • Conor Doyle
  • Alan Gordon
  • Jack McBean
  • Sam Nicholson

Overall, out of 14 players, there are only 3 that managed to rack up 10 goals during their time in Colorado. Gabriel Torres scored 10 goals in 3 seasons, which as the club’s first DP is not a good mark. Then, in second place, is Kevin Doyle who scored 17 in 2 and a half seasons but retired due to concussion issues. Finally, in first is Dominique Badji, who played a total of 3 and a half seasons, but managed to score 24 goals in those 3 seasons. He played not only as a striker but as a winger as well. Now that the Rapids’ best forward during the last 3 seasons has left, he also left some shoes to fill. In my opinion, looking in MLS is a much better option than looking abroad. Colorado can look to the academy and draft system for a prolific striker. If the Rapids spend time trading low for strikers in MLS they can then spend big on a DP #10, in turn, the final third for the Rapids will look incredibly more malicious.

Before I go into this list, I must state that this article is a two-parter. This first article is all on strikers the club should go after and who can fit into what the Rapids are trying to do. The second article will be on potential DP #10’s who can thrive not only in the system the Rapids have put in place, but can also thrive in the MLS. On to the list!

 

Name Position Type Likely Chance Cost
Giovani Dos Santos CF False 9 None $$$$
Miguel Ibarra FW False 9 None $$
Tommy Thompson AM False 9 Probable $
Anthony Jackson Hamel ST Finisher Good $$
Juan Agudelo ST Finisher Good $$$
Jose Villarreal ST Finisher Good $
Lamar Neagle M Finisher Probable $
Latif Blessing ST Quick Forward Probable $$
Adama Diomande ST Quick Forward Probable $$$$
Marco Urena ST Quick Forward Probable $$$$
Dairon Asprilla FW Quick Forward Probable $$
Lucas Melano ST Quick Forward None $$$$
Yordy Reyna ST Quick Forward None $$$
Tesho Akindele ST Target Forward Good $$
CJ Sapong ST Target Forward Probable $$$$
Luis Silva ST Target Forward Probable $$

 

So, here’s the list. The two main categories to look at are “Type” and “Likely Chance”. There are 4 types of strikers in the data: Quick forwards, Target Forwards, Finishers, and False Nines. Likely Chance is how likely the player would be acquired and the cost is measured by this table:

 

$$$$ = 1 million+
$$$=750,000-950,000
$$= 500,000-700,000
$=0-450,000

(Values provided by transfermarkt.)

 

If the team spends money on one of the big cost strikers, they would essentially be the DP striker going forward. The Rapids could also try acquiring two strikers whose value is below $700,000. Whichever way they go about it, the players from that above list would be my “wishlist”

A false 9 wouldn’t help the Rapids hat much but it does give them an option in the attacking third. There are 3 false nines that I found, all different prices and probable chance. Matthew Doyle, the armchair analyst, tweeted out that the Rapids could trade Tim Howard for Giovani Dos Santos. I am a big fan of that tweet and would be welcome to try and revive Dos Santos’ career here in Colorado. Gio would bring a large number of people to the stadium and capitalize on the Mexican and Latino market in Commerce City and the neighboring areas. Thompson and Ibarra are both great players who can play in a variety of roles but not much the False 9. If they were to come and play in that role, they would have to adapt quickly to the position and system. The next type of player I looked at were finishers. These are players who should mostly be in the box, receive the ball and put it in the goal. Lamar Neagle is the oldest of the 4 finishers and has played more on the wing. Personally, I feel his talents are best used in the striker position where Seattle used to play him back in 2013. Jose Villarreal is more of a “try-your-luck” type of guy that the Rapids could go for. Whether he succeeds or not won’t be a big issue based on the price tag. Trading McBean for him could be a trade that could actually work as they are both young and still have plenty of time left to grow. They both could use a change of scenery as well. Jackson-Hamel and Agudelo would be great options to have and could even help Niki Jackson once they go. Both players haven’t been starting for their clubs that much, so moving to the Rapids where’d they get a prominent role could increase their playing time.

There are 6 quick forwards I have on the list and these are players you can rely on for speed, agility, and sometimes a dribble or two in the final third. Latif Blessing, Adama Diomande, and Marco Urena are all players who are sitting on the bench for LAFC. If they want to play, they should probably move to another club as LAFC are out still buying more forwards. Lucas Melano recently returned to Portland, so bringing him here wouldn’t happen anytime soon, but having him in Colorado would be nice. Reyna and Asprilla are both young, have plenty of pace, and both can play in different positions if needed. All would be great additions but Latif Blessing, specifically, would be a great get for the club. As long as they don’t run into the problem they had with Badji, where instead of playing up and giving him clear chances, the midfield would just hoof it up to him looking for him to use his pace and poor dribbling skills in order to score. Now that this team has a midfield, a quick forward would be there more as a secret weapon rather than someone they rely on.

Now to the Target Forwards. The ones in charge of holding the ball up and bringing the rest of the team into play. Jack McBean is a great physical player and is ranked 10th in MLS in terms of forwards who win aerial duels. However, Jack McBean is not good at dribbling, passing, and doesn’t have any speed on the ball. He’s the heir apparent to Alan Gordon, someone who comes in to finish a match. Starting him hurts the team more than it helps. Here are some other Target Forwards who can help do what Jack McBean is trying to do. Real Salt Lake have seemed to turn Rusnak from being their 10 into being their 9. (Something I wish the Rapids could do with Gashi). Which means Luis Silva isn’t playing for them as much as he thought he would after RSL waived Yura Movsisyan. So, why not take revenge by moving to the rivals and then scoring against your old team while kissing the badge of our new one? I’m kidding, but of course, Silva would be a good pickup for the team is RSL isn’t looking to play him. Tesho Akindele is another target forward on my list that could fit our system pretty well. Dallas traded for Badji so he might not be getting much play time if they decide that Baji is their main striker. Why not bring him here? He’d be a great fit as he’s a Colorado native and maybe he’s feeling homesick? Who knows, either way, I’d be open to bringing him to the state where he belongs. Finally, our last striker, C. J. Sapong. Sapong is among one of the older players on the list but out of anyone else on the list, he’s the one I’d target if I were Padraig Smith. Remember how I said McBean was 10th in the league for forwards that have won aerial duels? Sapong is second. He’d be everything McBean isn’t at the moment. Pair him up with Nicholson and you have a dynamic duo that can produce. All you’d need at that point is a DP #10 who could create and do the dirty work for those two.

So, Rapids fans, I want to know what you think of my list. Follow me on twitter @juanners_ and let’s talk about these players. Who would you want to bring in? And if the Rapids do sign any of these players, you’ll know who brought up the idea *wink wink*

 

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