When the summer transfer window creaks open at the beginning of July, the Colorado Rapids will have shopping list in hand and be in a position to bolster their attacking ranks as MLS eases into the business end of the 2014 season.
That’s because Paul Bravo, VP of Soccer Operations and Technical Director, has just returned from a 10-day trip to Argentina, during which he cast his eye across potential new, offensive-minded players.
“We had identified a few players that we think might be able to have the impact that we’re looking for when this next (transfer) window opens up,” Bravo told ColoradoRapids.com. “Really what we’ve been trying to focus on is one or two guys who can be real difference-makers, in the same mold that Vicente (Sánchez) and Gaby (Torres) did for us last year down the stretch.”
Players brought in would be in addition to the current number. Bravo was keen to stress that there is flexibility in the salary cap to accommodate new faces, without the need to off-load.
“We tend to hold out for that window, and make sure that we have enough resources to be able to add one or two pieces if it came along,” Bravo continued.
“Also, we like to watch players live, which was another reason for us to be down there. We had identified players prior to going down there, so getting there to see them live was very important.”
“Where we can add some difference-makers is in the wide areas in midfield. We’ve played a lot of different players in those roles. The guys that have really stood out for us over the first part of the season have been those young guys [Marlon Hairston, Dillon Serna, Charles Eloundou], and we also know there’s a certain way that you want to bring along those guys and not expose them too much, too early.
“So we’re really trying to find players that can balance us out there and maybe add something different than what those players bring to us, some experience.”
Bravo’s search for the next star took him to Argentina, purely on the basis of the type of player that the Rapids are looking for. Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment, Mitch Murray, has been monitoring talent in Europe, but – for now – the spotlight is on South America.
“What we realize is that players like Vicente, players like Gaby, are the kinds of players that can put people on the edge of their seat for 90 minutes and have an impact and really make a difference,” Bravo explained. “Those are the technically gifted players, with a very good insight into the game, creative, have a real thirst for the game as well. And we’ve had some success in South America, so it’s one area but we focus all over the world.”
Having monitored players across Europe and South America, and identified those he feels will fit into the Rapids system, the next step is for Bravo to collate the data gained from his trip and draw up a short-list, from which one or two new players may just emerge.