There are pros and cons to holding the annual player tryouts before the MLS SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft, as the Rapids coaching staff concluded this week.
The positives: the coaching staff was able to get a first-hand look at more draft-eligible players that could be options to select with one of the team's seven combined draft picks. Another positive: the potential discovery a player that is not draft eligible.
The negatives: the majority of trialists need to go through the MLS draft process before being claimed, which could lead to other teams selecting them.
From the hundreds that applied, 59 players were invited to the Rapids annual January tryouts, where 56 attended the three-day combine at the Foothills Sports Arena in Lakewood, Colo.
"The professionalism of the guys that came in was very good," said Rapids Academy Director Brian Crookham, who ran tryouts with the assistance of the club's coaching staff. "We were able to see players in a good environment and got a pretty detailed evaluation of every player. We got what we needed to get in order to have a proper evaluation of them."
The trialist were divided into four teams and took part in five sessions over the three days under the instruction and observations of Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja, assistant coach Dave Dir, and Academy coaches Crookham and Steve Cooke.
"There's two ways that players may come in to the group," Crookham said. "There's the draft eligible group - college seniors that played last year, which we'll have to look closely at to see if we'll need to pick them up in the drafts. And then the players that haven't taken the college route or have been out of the college loop and are not tied to a team. We'll have the possibility to potentially bring some of those players in as well."
The staff has not yet revealed if any player - or players - will be invited to the Rapids' preseason. For now, the extensive evaluation of potential draft picks will continue with Pareja and Dir attending the MLS Combine this weekend in Florida. The Rapids have three picks in next week's SuperDraft and four selections in the following week's Supplemental Draft.
Still, Crookham feels good about the chances that one or more players will be invited to camp.
"We're confident we'll bring some players in to preseason," Crookham said.
Last year, trialist Sam Archer made it through four weeks of preseason before being released. The previous year, the Rapids signed Steve Emory after he stood out at the tryouts and preseason.