Commerce City, Colo. - The #10 on a soccer jersey has long been associated with the offensive sparkplug of a team, the player that pulls the strings and creates excitement. Newly acquired Martin Rivero, from Argentina, will become the 12th player to wear the #10 jersey.
Let's take at look at the first 11 players who have worn that number for the Colorado Rapids, each with various levels of success:
1996-97: ROY WEGERLE (Born in Petroria, South Africa; College - South Florida)
On October 17, 1995, Wegerle became the first player allocated to the Colorado Rapids, some six months before the first-ever game. After dealing with injuries through much of the inaugural season, he was appointed interim head coach on September 9 when head coach Bob Houghton resigned earlier in the week. As player / coach, Wegerle led the Rapids in it's first-ever U.S. Open Cup match, a 3-2 win over Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in which he also started and played the first 66 minutes. His lone game at the helm of an MLS contest was the season finale, a 3-1 loss at D.C. United on September 21. He did not play in that game.
1997: STEVE RAMMEL (Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey; College - Connecticut; Rutgers)
On July 3, 1997, the Rapids traded Roy Wegerle to D.C. United for forward Steve Rammel, who had been an MLS All-Star in 1996 and scored 14 goals for United. Rammel assumed Wegerle's #10 but he also couldn't find his scoring touch in Colorado, going goalless to close out the year. He was traded to the MetroStars before the start of the 1998 season.
1998: WALDIR SAENZ (Born in Lima, Peru)
The Rapids signed Peruvian National Team forward Waldir as an allocation on a one-year loan from Alianza Lima on March 18, 1998. In his one season he scored more goals than the previous two #10s scored in the first two years. He was also the first #10 to score a goal in the playoffs, notching the tying goal at Chicago on October 1, 1998. The Fire would end up winning the game on 3-2 on penalty kicks.
1999-2000: ANDERS LIMPAR (Born in Stockholm, Sweden)
One of the most experienced and accomplished players to join the Rapids, Limpar was also signed as an allocation on February 10, 1999. He had represented Sweden at two World Cups, and had won an FA Cup with Everton just four year prior, that after playing four seasons with Arsenal.
2001-2002: CARLOS VALDERRAMA (Born in Santa Marta, Colombia)
The Rapids acquired the legendary #10 from the Tampa Bay Mutiny on June 29, 2001 along with goalkeeper Scott Garlick and defender Ritchie Kotschau in exchange for goalkeeper Adin Brown, defender Scott Vermillion, and a first round pick in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft. He didn't score in year one, but tallied once in the regular season and once in the playoffs in his final season. Possibly the most famous player the Rapids have ever had, the entire world knew 'El Pibe,' the two-time South American player of the year who had represented Colombia in the 1990, 94, and 98 FIFA World Cups. In MLS, he was the king of assists, holding the MLS record of 114 until Steve Ralston surpassed him in 2007 - five years after Valderrama had retired.
2003 - the only year in which no player wore the #10 for the Rapids.
2004-06: PEGUERO JEAN PHILIPPE (Born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti)
His name was interesting, at first spelled Jean Phillippe Peguero and later to Peguero Jean Phillippe, which is apparently correct. However he didn't use either name on the back of his jersey, instead he used his nickname, "Pedro." With names like Wegerle, Waldir, Limpars, Gomez, and Valderrama, few might realize that the Haitian scored the most goals for the Rapids while wearing #10, twice scoring seven goals and also scoring a goal in the playoffs. He was traded two games into the 2006 season to the New York Red Bulls.
2006: ALAIN NKONG (Born in Yaounde, Cameroon)
Nkong had played for the Rapids in 2005 on loan from a Uruguayan club, and in his first season he scored five goals and added four assists - all while wearing #22. After his loan ended, he left the Rapids but only to re-sign on August 25, 2006. He was given Peguero's (or Jean Philippe's) #10, but he also went scoreless with that number to close out the year.
2007: HERCULEZ GOMEZ (Born in Las Vegas, Nevada)
On December 1, 2006 the Rapids made a trade with the LA Galaxy, acquring Gomez and defender Ugo Ihemelu in exchange for goalkeeper Joe Cannon (draft picks were also exchanged). Herculez wore the #10 and has the distinction of scoring the first-ever goal at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. On April 7, 2007 - in the stadium opener - Gomez put away a Terry Cooke pass to put the Rapids up 1-0 on D.C. United in a game Colorado would win 2-1. He made his debut with the U.S. National Team later that summer in the Copa America but an ACL tear ended his season early. With the arrival of former MLS MVP Christian Gomez the next year, Herculez switched his number to 16. He was traded to Kansas City in September 2008.
2008: CHRISTIAN GOMEZ (Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina):
February 8, 2008 was the day the Rapids formerly announced the acquisition of 2006 MLS MVP, and three-time MLS Best XI and All-Star Christian Gomez. In order to sign the midfielder, Colorado had to complete a trade with D.C. United for his rights, sending their first round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and future considerations. It turned out to be a one-year 'loan.'
Gomez scored three goals with Colorado and was even named an MLS All-Star. However he didn't fit into the system that new coach Gary Smith wanted to play once he was appointed halfway through the season. Gomez was traded back to D.C. on February 9, 2009 along with goalkeeper Mike Graczyk and an international slot in exchange for Honduran defender Ivan Guerrero, United's 2010 second round SuperDraft pick, and the 'future considerations' portion of the initial trade.
2009: FACUNDO DIZ (Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
The Rapids signed the former Club Atlético Platense forward Diz on July 24, 2009. With only two months left in the season, Rapids fans didn't get to see much of him. He only appeared in nine matches, all off the bench, and only twice played more than 20 minutes. He was released during the 2010 preseason.
2010-2011: MACOUMBA KANDJI (Born in Dakar, Senegal; College - Georgia Mil. Coll. (J.C.))
Acquired in a trade from New York on September 14, 2010 in exchange for Mehdi Ballouchy. The forward will forever live in Rapids fans' lore for the sacrifice he made in helping the club win its first-ever championship. In overtime of MLS Cup 2010, Kandji brought down a long cross from Conor Casey. He nutmegged his first mark, but as he went to cross the ball Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu took him down with a foot to his knee. The ball deflected off Dallas defender George John and into the back of the goal, giving the Rapids the 2-1 lead with only minutes to play. Kandji had to watch the final minutes from the sideline, later learning he had torn his ACL on the play. He returned towards the end of 2011, but was traded in February 2012 to Houston.
Year POS PLAYER GP GS MIN G A SHT SOG FC FS OFF CK C E
96-97 F Roy Wegerle 36 29 2451 4 7 41 20 40 30 40 49 3 0
97 F Steve Rammel 10 2 356 0 0 4 2 7 8 7 0 0 0
98 F Waldir 23 17 1382 6 6 48 23 23 9 22 1 2 0
99-00 M Anders Limpar 36 28 2474 3 15 40 16 56 74 7 141 7 1
01-02 M Carlos Valderrama 39 39 3609 1 19 22 8 21 59 0 10 1 1
03 -------- -- -- -- - - - - - - - - - -
04-06 F J-P. Peguero 46 38 3399 14 11 93 42 104 76 61 0 7 1
06 M Alain Nkong 5 2 199 0 0 2 0 6 1 0 0 0 0
Total (#22, 2005): 33 22 1931 5 4 50 18 52 47 0 1 9 0
07 F Herculez Gomez 20 16 1537 4 2 51 22 38 46 17 23 6 0
Total (#16, 2008): 37 21 2181 6 3 74 29 50 66 19 29 7 0
08 M Christian Gomez 20 17 1423 3 6 36 18 15 30 7 35 2 0
09 F Facundo Diz 8 0 97 0 0 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 0
10-11 F Macoumba Kandji 16 5 460 0 3 10 3 9 11 9 0 0 0