Commerce City, Colo. - The Rapids have seen a share of movement in the middle and right side of defense this season, but the left side appeared to be set – until recently. On Friday, the Rapids made a move to bring in competition and depth at left back, acquiring young defender Anthony Wallace from FC Dallas.
“It brings competition to that left back spot,” said Rapids head coach Gary Smith after Friday’s training session. “I think it’s big for Danny (Earls) to have been able to play 30 games anyway in his first season in MLS. It’s a big step up from where he’s been. But he’s been absolutely terrific for us up until now.”
While Marvell Wynne and Kosuke Kimura have each started eight games at right back – with Wynne’s time coming as Kimura recovered from an injury – Danny Earls has started 14 of the first 16 games at left back.
However, after starting 11 consecutive, and 13 of the first 14 games, the Rapids coaching staff recently attempted to give the 22-year old Irishman the game off. On July 17, Scott Palguta started at left back against Kansas City, but was replaced by Earls before the halftime whistle as the Wizards took a 1-0 lead. The next week, Earls started against Seattle but was replaced in the 65th minute by Kimura.
“I do, and I’ve always wanted, some competition there at left back,” added Smith. “Naturally Scott (Palguta) can fulfill that role, but he’s much accomplished as a center back. Kosuke (Kimura) is a right-footed fullback who I’m sure again can do a very good job there.”
“But we were looking for that balance, and he (Wallace) possesses all of the qualities that I’ve been after: he’s good size, very athletic, he’s quick, he’s got a lovely cultured left foot. He’s now been in the league three years, although he’s not played an awful lot of games. As we move forward there’s no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best prospects in this league to play in that position.”
During Wallace’s time at Dallas, he would often train and even play non-league games at holding and left midfield. Smith, however, is clear on where he wants Wallace to contribute.
“For sure at the moment, in my mind, he’s coming in as competition at left back,” said Smith. “There’s no doubt the lad’s versatile; he’s a good footballer so I’m sure he can play other positions. At this point I think the lad probably needs clarity in where he’s going to play and what he’s going to be. Clarity in his mind - of where he’s coming to, what he’s fighting for, and exactly where I see him playing - I think will be a key for him.”
The Rapids host Dallas on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, though it is not yet clear if Wallace would be available for selection.