The Colorado Rapids hosted the annual Meet the Team Party on Sunday afternoon at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, where Rapids head coach Robin Fraser and General Manager Pádraig Smith addressed Season Ticket Members in the State of the Club, a Q&A hosted by Altitude TV in-game host, Richard Fleming. Here are the top five takeaways:
The Season’s Not Over Yet
Just 12 hours before Fraser and Smith addressed the fans, the Rapids were wrapping up one of their biggest wins of the 2022 season. Their victory over LA Galaxy on Saturday night at home proved, yet again, that the Colorado side is not to be counted out.
Despite the ups and downs of the season thus far, the Rapids are still in a position to make a playoff push come fall. A combination of new acquisitions, the remainder of the summer transfer window, and the motivation of the team makes the Rapids positive that the season is far from over.
Drive to Youth Initiative
Fresh in the minds of Rapids fans is the arrival of midfielder Ralph Priso, who arrives to the club from Toronto FC. The 19-year-old is the latest young player to be signed to Colorado this year, following Homegrown Jackson Travis and SuperDraft pick Anthony Markanich.
Smith and Fraser emphasized the importance of helping young players grow within the Rapids culture, making them better players, and giving them the opportunity to play overseas when the time is right. Homegrowns Sam Vines, Cole Bassett and defender Auston Trusty are all examples of recent departures for Europe.
"We now have proof of concept," said Smith. "The best young players in the league can see our culture and business plan and know they have the opportunity to go on wherever their path leads them."
A Global Audience
Next year, the Colorado soccer community will experience firsthand two major developments that will have the eyes of the world on the Rapids.
The 2023 Leagues Cup arrives to North America with a reimagined vision: to make history as the first major soccer tournament to feature every club from MLS and Liga MX. Sanctioned by Concacaf, Leagues Cup will pause the regular season competition for both leagues for one month in the summer to conduct a World Cup-style tournament.
Leagues Cup opens the doors for a global audience, providing a potential spotlight for the Rapids.
Like Leagues Cup, the recently-announced broadcast deal between tech giant Apple and MLS will allow for a worldwide audience. The 10-year deal will include streaming for every MLS match, Leagues Cup match, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches.
Anyone with the MLS streaming service available through the Apple TV app can catch Rapids games, no matter where they are.
Making Deals with Intention
While making trade, transfer and draft deals, the Rapids have always aimed to conduct business with intention and a sustainable, long-term vision in mind. The 2022 season is no different.
In the offseason Rapids faithful saw players like Cole Bassett and Kellyn Acosta depart the club for new opportunities. In return, Colorado signed and drafted multiple players like Anthony Markanich, Bryan Acosta, and Max Alves da Silva.
Smith and Fraser understand that some deals don’t always make sense to the fans in the moment, but are consistently made with very clear heads and intentions. The relationship between the front office and technical staff is one built on trusting the process and looking toward the future health of the club.
Recent deals like the trade seeing midfielder Ralph Priso join the Rapids from Toronto FC in exchange for Mark-Anthony Kaye, a large sum of General Allocation Money, and more are the blueprint for what Colorado hopes to achieve in talent acquisition: to bring in promising players and set the tone for the next transfer window opportunities.
It Takes a Village
Without the fans, there is no team. Fraser remarked that aside from the Rapids’ sole 2021 playoff match against Portland on Thanksgiving, only Saturday night’s game against the Galaxy matched the biggest energy he’s seen in the stadium–both as a Rapids player and now the leader of the squad.
There were nearly 18,000 fans at altitude on Saturday night to cheer on the Burgundy Boys.
“We can’t thank you guys enough,” he said. “To still have everyone come out with this kind of support last night, you guys have no idea what that does for the atmosphere and what that does for the team.”