Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Gomez is just one of the changes in Colorado
by Ridge Mahoney, February 11th, 2008 6:45AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

The Colorado Rapids' new acquisition arrived just in time for the second phase of preseason training, yet he's not the only face of recent vintage.

Two weeks of crunching through snow-encrusted sessions ended Saturday, a day after midfielder Christian Gomez posed for the obligatory pictures holding his new club colors. When the team resumes training in Florida today, there will be other newcomers both on and off the field.

Former Rapids defender Nat Borchers has been released by Norwegian club Odd Grenland and his former club would have first crack at retaining him. Coach Fernando Clavijo plans on using Jose Burciaga Jr., acquired via trade from Kansas City, at left back. Former Clemson defender Chase Hilgenbrinck, who played in Chile after being passed over in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, is also on board.

"Chase will use his speed and experience to help us continue to bolster our defense that gave up the third fewest goals in the league this past season," said Clavijo.

Former U.S. keeper Jurgen Sommer is the Rapids director of soccer and Gary Smith has been added as an assistant coach. In addition to working with Clavijo and first assistant coach John Murphy, Smith is responsible for instituting the Arsenal Center of Excellence, a joint venture by the English Premier League club and the Rapids. He coached Watford's reserve team and was a staff member on several English teams.

After finishing their stint in Florida with a match against Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake Feb. 22, the Rapids will train 10 days in London at the Arsenal facilities. They'll also visit Mississippi in late March to play the Fire.

Regardless of other changes, Clavijo is staking a lot on Gomez. Colorado gave up its first-round 2009 SuperDraft pick and the club's Designated Player slot for either two or three years, depending on the source of the information. Officially, "future considerations" are now owned by D.C. United. Supposedly, Toronto offered D.C. its DP slot, and Colorado either had to match it or lose the trade.

In effect, Gomez is the club's designated player and is costing it accordingly; his salary plus allocation money comes mighty close to the same $400,000 cap hit such a player would inflict. And while Clavijo has always praised the influence of Latin players in MLS, he hasn't had much success with a few of those he's brought recently to Colorado.

Diego Serna and Jose Cancela made the final stops of their league careers in Colorado, and last year's signing, Mexican striker Daniel Osorno, arrived out of shape, played just 55 minutes, and then "retired," though he's back playing in Mexico with Dorados.

If Gomez is anything close to what he showed in D.C., the Rapids' anemic attack - 29 goals in 30 games last year, only expansion Toronto scored fewer - has to improve, perhaps significantly. Streaky scorers abound on the Rapids roster - Jovan Kirovski, Herculez Gomez, Nicolas Hernandez - so a steady supply of quality service could brighten one of the club's dark spots.

Clavijo expects the new Gomez to play up front as a second forward, which probably means one or two members of a forward brigade that also includes Conor Casey can't be retained. He's lined up a Brazilian defensive midfielder - name not yet known - to play alongside Pablo Mastroeni in central midfield, and the flanks are more or less secure with Terry Cooke on the right and Colin Clark on the left. Midfielder Ciaran O'Brien was taken with the No. 5 overall draft pick and as a Generation Adidas player will have plenty of time to settle in.

Clavijo, though, won't have that luxury. There are some high points during Clavijo's tenure - two straight playoff eliminations of Dallas (2005 and 2006), the unearthing of Senegalese goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, an excellent first season for Hernandez - yet his contract expires this year.

Gomez's contract is guaranteed through 2009; his coach will have to earn such security.

MLS Preseason Previews
Jan. 28 -- Real Salt Lake
Jan. 29 -- D.C. United
Jan. 30 -- New England
Jan. 31 -- Columbus
Feb. 1 -- FC Dallas
Feb. 5 -- Chicago
Feb. 6 -- Kansas City
Feb. 7 -- Chivas USA
Feb. 8 -- New York




No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Diego Lopez returns to Rapids as director of soccer    
Claudio Lopez, who played for Argentina in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, has returned to ...
What They're Saying: Tim Howard    
"I think the MLS have probably made their own problem. New York is owned by Manchester ...
Video Pick: A keeper gaffe for the ages     
The record will show that Lierse defender Arjan Swinkels scored an own goal in Saturday's 6-0 ...
U.S. Abroad: Weekend Hot (and Cold) List    
Brad Guzan made eight saves as 10-man Aston Villa earned a 1-1 tie with Manchester United. ...
Three takeaways from Liverpool-Arsenal    
Energetic attacking and sloppy defending in their 2-2 tie Sunday illustrated why Arsenal and Liverpool are ...
Three takeaways from Club World Cup    
Real Madrid's winning streak is now 22 games following its 2-0 win over San Lorenzo of ...
U.S. U-18s split two-game series with Germany    
The U.S. under-18 men's national team dropped a 3-2 decision to Germany's U-18s to finish with ...
MLS Trade Central: Friday's deals    
After two disastrous years in England, Brek Shea is back in MLS, signing with expansion club ...
MLS lines up exciting tripleheader for first Sunday    
MLS will open its 2015 season on March 6 when the defending champion LA Galaxy hosts ...
Video Pick: Alex Meier on Fire     
The leading scorer in the Europe's highest scoring league is a player you may not have ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives