Rapids and their Evolutionary Identity

The Colorado Rapids have had many obstacles stand in their way. Can their spontaneity continue to maneuver through these obstacles?
by Greg Moss   |   Friday, August 16, 2013

Mile High Club – column on Colorado Rapids & the Denver area and Colorado soccer scenes.

When you look at the identity of a sports team, you must accept the fact that change is always prevalent in their vocabulary.

Usually, this change occurs when things begin to break down or go wrong. If there is any sort of success, and the reality sets in that something is going right, change seems to be placed back in the holster until needed in the hopefully distant future.

I have talked about the identity of the Colorado Rapids and the identity crisis they endured at the forefront of the season. I speculated that they might do well with new, young blood carrying enthusiasm and the will to prove themselves as professional players, but I would have never thought that the Colorado Rapids would be just a few points out of 1st place in the Western Conference.

That being said, when most talk about a team identity change, they discuss it as though it was a one time, firesale type of thing rather than a Darwin-istic type evolution.

The Rapids have gone undefeated since June and looking to continue their streak into the last part of the season leading into playoffs. They have played more matches than any other team in the league, and just drew with the worst team in the Western Conference in Chivas USA. Only Darwin’s theory of natural selection would edge the instinct within the Rapids that leads to the survival of the fittest to take the lead with what I call, Evolutionary Identity.

Each sports team at some point in time reaches a moment or situation in which they know they must make drastic changes, and a drastic amount of them to find any sort of success. Change in gameplan, leadership, players; any sort of jolt that the team might need to resuscitate the life that may have once coursed through the veins of the team that have presently withered and withdrawn to almost nothing. We’ve seen it time and time again: When a team finds a rut, it’s hard to alter its identity and crawl out.

The Rapids have discovered a method that has not been used by many teams in the past. When they are on the successful track, make a change and see if it escalates the success. Always be ahead of others and keep them guessing.

The Rapids officially signed the headliner; Gabriel Torres to become their 1st designated player in franchise history. With this signing comes the high hopes that the Panamanian striker will fulfill the lost art of scoring goals – something that the Rapids have struggled with for the last several seasons. Martin Rivero has returned from injury, scoring a goal in his 1st match in months against Chivas USA; and 33-year-old Vicente Sanchez has already found playing time for Colorado.

Colorado has been unbeaten since June, yet the Rapids still find the need to bring in new players and change a team that has proven that it works. The backline of defenders has been changed with Shane O’Neill moving to the wing back position, and the shaky German Mera playing centerback. Hot-headed Hendry Thomas cannot stay disciplined enough to play consecutive matches, and Atiba Harris seems have dropped off the face of the earth. Fans argue that Edson Buddle has not done the job that he was brought in for, and Tony Cascio continues his sophomore slump displaying his adolescent selfish style of play. Yet, they continue to win games.

Is that because they keep themselves guessing as much as the other teams? Or is it because they are so in tune with the players that they understand the nuances of each and every player well enough to understand what they do and do not need to fill in holes? The hard fought battle for the star Torres was a long one, and ended in success. Will he be the answer the Rapids need to complete their woes from the past? Or will he be just another Rapids story lost in the pages of their short history?

The Rapids, in my opinion, have discovered something that has not yet been tapped into, other than maybe the “run by committee” type play in the NFL, or rotating security codes in a high-security building.

But when a team watches film, they learn the tendencies of the other team based on who’s playing in the film. When a team brings in a new player, the opponent, as well as the head coach themselves, do not quite understand how every piece of the puzzle will fit together.

Not only will the Torres signing keep other teams guessing, but it will keep the Rapids guessing as well, finding players that can build around Torres could prove difficult, but an evolution that may end in success.

NEXT UP: August 17 – Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo. 9 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

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Concordia College
Club Domestic:
Colorado Rapids
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Producer of "From the Pitch" with Marcelo Balboa and a personal Rapids podcast. All personality with a face for radio and profile pictures. Born a midwesterner, thankfully transformed into a Rocky Mtn dweller. Covering Colorado Rapids with words and voice