Editorial (December 19, 2017) – The MLS off-season is well underway. The Colorado Rapids have already been making moves to set themselves up for an improved 2018 season. We’re about a week into MLS free agency and not that much has happened. With that, let’s take a look at some possible Colorado Rapids free agency targets.
Four Colorado Rapids Free Agency Targets for 2018
The full list of MLS free agents can be found here. Each team can sign no more than two free agents a year. Free agents can negotiate a raise to a certain amount. Find the full rules on that here. At the time of publishing, the Rapids had 19 of 30 roster spots filled. There’s plenty of room for a free agent or two at every position except goalkeeper.
It’s free agency, so go big or go home. Head Coach Anthony Hudson is likely going to institute a 5-3-2 system with wing backs. The Rapids already have Marlon Hairston, Kip Colvey, and Eric Miller, but they need other options. Steven Beitashour just won an MLS Cup with Toronto FC as the starting left wing back. He’s one of the top free agents left on the open market. He won’t be cheap and there will be other suitors. But if the Rapids can get him to buy into the vision, it will be a steal, and their starting back line will be set for 2018.
2017 Guaranteed Compensation: $264,000
Maximum 2018 Guaranteed Compensation: $303,600
Atiba Harris is one of the most reliable (albeit least glamorous) utility men in MLS. He’s been mostly an outside back for FC Dallas the last several years. He can fill in as a midfielder in a pinch. At 6’3″, he could even be a third center back on Hudson’s 5-3-2. Versatility can be an asset in an MLS season and Harris absolutely provide that. He’s on the older side so there might not be as much competition for him (read: he probably won’t demand a raise) and could fill in as a bench player.
2017 Guaranteed Compensation: $155,004
Maximum 2018 Guaranteed Compensation: $186,004.80
Yes, Chris Schuler has spent his entire professional career with Real Salt Lake. The 6’4″ center back has been hampered by injuries in the last few seasons and wasn’t in favor with RSL Head Coach Mike Petke. A new environment (particularly with a former rival) could motivate him. He won’t need to adjust to altitude as much. At 30-years-old, he should still have a few good years left in the tank. The Rapids only have three center backs on the roster right now: Axel Sjoberg, Kortne Ford, and Jared Watts. Sjober and Ford are locked in as starters for next year. Watts might be more of a utility/bench player. Schuler might be over the hill, but as a third center back (and with a lower salary), he’d be a good addition.
2017 Guaranteed Compensation: $132,500
Maximum 2018 Guaranteed Compensation: $159,000
Finishing with the most underwhelming player on this list, veteran left back Michael Harrington. The 31-year-old wasn’t able to see the field for the Chicago Fire much the last few years. That said, he’s a former Rapid who might want to return to the club. He could fit in as a left wing back. At his age, he probably won’t be expecting start. Harrington can be a good locker room personality. At worst, he’s a training ground body and a mentor to Kip Colvey and a few of the other outside backs learning the position. At best, he’ll be left wing back insurance if Colvey doesn’t work out or there’s a few injuries.
2017 Guaranteed Compensation: $136,666.67
Maximum 2018 Guaranteed Compensation: $164,000
Prediction: I think the Rapids sign one player for full back depth and that’s it. Not sure who that will be. It’ll probably come down to money. If Harris doesn’t want a raise, it could be him. If Harrington decides he’s willing to take a league minimum deal, the Rapids will probably sign him to get value down the roster. If a few competitors decide Beitashour isn’t worth the price and Toronto doesn’t want him back, they might have a shot at him.