Trialists, picks strongest ever for Smith's Rapids

Folan addition offers extra boost for defending MLS Cup champs

The coaching staff may not want to tinker too much with their MLS Cup-winning Colorado Rapids squad, but they’re already regarding the current crop of draft picks and trialists as the strongest yet under the Gary Smith regime.

The group has received an even larger boost with the recent arrival of Hull City striker Caleb Folan, who will travel with the Rapids for their six-day trip to Arizona starting Friday. The Republic of Ireland international appeared in 58 matches for Hull City after arriving in 2007, and has seven international caps with the Irish national team to his credit.

Joining Folan for the Arizona trip will be Trinidad and Tobago international Joevin Jones and Puerto Rico Islanders defender Logan Emory. Smith said that the two players, along with Anthony Wallace, will be competing for the left back spot Wallace currently occupies.

Jones, only 19 years old, already has 11 caps with the Soca Warriors.

Smith said he is also very pleased with the progress of local Metro State product Steven Emory. The midfielder emerged from Rapids’ tryouts held in January and Smith qualified him as "a very polished young player."

The club’s two MLS SuperDraft selections – defenders Colin Givens and Eddie Ababio – have also drawn rave reviews thus far, and the upcoming Arizona trip should give the trialists and draft picks a prime opportunity to make their claim for a contract.

The Rapids will play matches against Sporting Kansas City, the LA Galaxy and the Columbus Crew during their trip, and the club’s reserve team will also play against a US U-18 side.

“It’s been very difficult for the trialists and draft picks in the last two years,” Smith said. “This year, there is the added incentive of games in the reserves. There is no substitute for games. All in all, these guys have given a very good account of themselves.”