Kandji addition gives Smith options

Head coach says team could play with three forwards with the addition of Kandji

Macoumba Kandji with NYRB_DL

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Commerce City, Colo. – In acquiring forward Macoumba Kandji from New York in exchange for midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, Colorado head coach Gary Smith now feels he has added a player that will give him more options to be aggressive offensively.

“For a good period I think we were lacking some flexibility in that front line,” said Smith of the trade after the team’s training session on Tuesday. “(Kandji) is explosively quick, good in one-v-one situations, capable of creating something out of nothing. And on top of all of that, still has not fulfilled all of his potential.”

Cummings has already set a personal single-season high in goals with nine this year, and has scored four goals on the last three games.

Casey also has scored nine goals, and his next goal will tie him with Paul Bravo as the team’s all-time goal-scoring leader with 39.

Even so, the addition of a player like Kandji could bring a different dynamic to the attack.

“Without having to make a decision right now, the ability that I have is to play an out-and-out front three of pace and strength and some wonderful individual ability, and that would be ultra aggressive,” Smith said.

Of late, Cummings and Casey have been the two forwards in a 4-4-2 formation. For a long stretch of the season, Cummings lined up wide on the right with Casey as the lone striker in a 4-5-1.

“I have the ability to add some competition there and maybe get a tad more out of each of the individuals,” added Smith. “And I have the ability to give one or the other of the front two at the moment a genuine breather to recuperate and make sure they stay sharp for what I hope is going to be an extended season. And of course either Omar or Kandji can play wide right in a more aggressive role in a 4-4-2.”

While Kandji may provide the team another offensive weapon, Smith says that losing Ballouchy was tough.

“It’s a loss, there’s no other way of putting it,” said Smith of Ballouchy. “He’s fulfilled a number of roles for us; I think he’s played every midfield position. And on top of that he’s a wonderful lad to have in the changing room.

“I didn’t necessarily want to lose Mehdi, but unfortunately in this country when you’re looking to add players to certain areas of your team to be stronger and have more depth, there’s always a trade off. And that trade off sadly was Mehdi this time.”

Kandji will be traveling to Colorado on Wednesday and is expected to participate in his first session with his new team on Thursday morning.

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