With the players set to report for the start of the 2013 preseason on January 17 - the same day as the MLS SuperDraft - ColoradoRapids.com will be taking a look at the depth chart at each position, based on the formation the team utilized for the last portion of last year.
The old sports saying that defense wins championships may be correct, but you can't win if you can't score. And fittingly, perhaps the biggest change of the offseason is at forward after the departures of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. The two were the team's first-choice forwards over the recent years, however their production has slowed of late as the duo combined to score only 17 goals over 86 games during the last two seasons. The team's leading scorers in each of the last two years were midfielders, with seven and eight goals respectively.
In December the Rapids made the bold move to trade for one of the League's all-time leading scorers in Edson Buddle, who arrived from the LA Galaxy with the expectations to be the team's goal-scorer. He'll be challenged, however, by Andre Akpan, who has taken advantage of limited opportunities and scored four regular season goals despite only making nine starts.
In support and often as the second striker, or withdrawn forward, will Kamani Hill and Kevin Harbottle. In his first year with the Rapids Hill finished third on the team with five goals, this despite that he only started three games and played less than 600 total minutes. The newly signed Chilean, Harbottle, played in this position in his previous clubs in Chile, though he's also found success attacking from the left.
On paper this position looks solid. But there are also unknowns. Can Buddle return to form? Can Akpan and Hill become the players that they've shown over longer stretches? Is Harbottle a better option on the left?
And the final question, with the #6 and #11 overall pick, is there a forward available that could come in and compete for one of the two spots?