Rapids land Gashi, top Swiss league marksman

Colorado Rapids fans were awaiting word on who will be the Rapids' first big signing of the 2016 season. Mexican stars Alan Pulido and Carlos Vela were often mentioned. So it was something of a headscratcher when Shkelzen Gashi wasn't just signed to as a Designated Player but termed the Rapids' "top attacking target" of the offseason. Huh? Gashi arrives from FC Basel in Switzerland, where he won Super League Golden Boot honors in his last two seasons.

Gashi, 27, scored 19 goals for Grasshopper in 2013-14 and 22 goals for FC Basel in 2014-15. In 2014, he earned Axpo Player of the Year accolades, awarded to the best player in the Swiss Super League.

“Shkelzen was our top attacking target this offseason,” said Paul Bravo, the Rapids' technical director and vice president of soccer operations. “He has proven to be a prolific goalscorer in his club’s domestic and European success. In addition, he has been instrumental in his national team’s qualification campaign for Euro 2016."
 
Gashi has scored three goals in 11 appearances for Albania, including the game-winning goal against Armenia in Euro 2016 qualifying in March 2015. He played in four of eight qualifiers for Albania, for which Euro 2016 in France will be its first-ever appearance at a major tournament.

Fellow Rapid forward Kevin Doyle played for Ireland in one Euro 2016 qualifier but is considered a longshot the Irish roster for the finals with Robbie Keane, Shane Long and Jon Walters currently ahead of him.
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