Colorado Rapids True No. 9: Alan Gordon Set To “Wreak Havoc”

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COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO - FEBRUARY 12: Colorado Rapids forward Alan Gordon, #16, middle, moves the ball up field during soccer practice on the practice fields at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on February 12, 2017 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, CO (February 13, 2017) – For the first time since Conor Casey left the club in 2012, the Colorado Rapids have a true No. 9. Alan Gordon arrived in the off-season as a free agent and he’s ready to back in burgundy and white.

Colorado Rapids True No. 9: Alan Gordon Set To Wreak Havoc

It’s no secret that offense was the biggest weakness for the Rapids in 2016. They finished second in the Supporter’s Shield standings last year while tied for the second fewest goals (39). In particular, their bench was very thin at times. Marlon Hairston was a decent option late in games if he wasn’t able to start.

Now the Rapids have a proven weapon they can bring in late in games. “The mentality piece [is valuable], he’s a guy who’s come into games and flipped them on their head,” said Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni about Gordon’s stoppage time mythology.

In particular, Gordon can play a different role than anyone else on the roster as that true No. 9. When asked if he was here to “wreak havoc,” Gordon said “absolutely. I’m trying to cause problems up top and shake up a defense. Take them off their game. A lot of times I’m doing it for other players. It’s not usually for myself.”

In many ways, Colorado didn’t need to add much offensively. Shkelzen Gashi came into his own late last season. Almost every European DP is better in their second year in MLS than their first. He’ll be a better weapon in 2017. The Rapids also have Dominique Badji and Marlon Hairston who are looking to take another step in their development. Then there’s having Dillon Serna, who was injured all of last season.

The Rapids offense can improve this year just internal improvements of their existing roster. And now they have a hold up striker to help out. Gordon can play with his back to goal and set up other guys. He can play possession and use his physicality to create space for the fast and technical players.

Reflecting on his time playing against Gordon, Mastroeni lamented “you came out of every game sore in places you didn’t know existed.” Gordo will certainly be making several MLS center backs sore this year.

Combine that with new Assistant Coach Conor Casey (one of the best No. 9 glue players in MLS), and they’re set to have a much better offensive system.

As much as Gordon fits a need on the field, he fits in perfectly with the mentality of the squad, #KeepFighting and all.

“Who he is as a person fits seamlessly into this locker room,” said Mastroeni. He added “He’s a guy you always want on your team and not one you want to play against.”

He fits the personality of the team perfectly, #BashTag is basically the Gordon microcosm of the Rapids identity. At 35-years-old and with back problems in 2016, he won’t be starting a lot. But he doesn’t need to. If he can go all out for 10-20 minutes each game, he’ll be more than excellent.

His biggest challenge might be external. Altitude is tough for newcomers to the Rapids, especially at his age. It’s tough when “you can’t find any air” playing at high elevation Gordon mentioned. “I’m looking forward to getting used to it and watching other guys suffer like I usually do up here.”

It sounds like Gordo is ready to climb the mountain that is the 2017 MLS season. If the rest of the offense follows suit, the Rapids are in good shape.

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