Center Midfielder Sam Nicholson to bring offense to Colorado Rapids

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KANSAS CITY, KS - MAY 05: Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza (17) and Colorado Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson fight for possession in the first half of an MLS match between the Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City on May 5, 2018 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (May 10, 2018) – Sam Nicholson is in just his second week with Colorado Rapids. He was brought to the club in a trade on transfer deadline day last week from Minnesota United FC. It’s still early, but he’s fitting a role with his new team.

Center Midfielder Sam Nicholson to bring offense to Colorado Rapids

Nicholson his an attacking midfielder, but a specific position or spot in a formation has varied throughout his career. He’s been a central attacker at times, a winger, and while at Minnesota United was even put at fullback at times.

As Nicholson told Last Word on Soccer this week, he only played a 3-5-2 once in his career before coming to Commerce City. There was some speculation where he would play on the field given how the three central midfield roles are still in the air. With the club having no clear backup to Edgar Castillo at left wing back, Nicholson in that role could have been a possibility.

“He’s an attacking player. He’s an exciting player,” Manager Anthony Hudson told Last Word on Soccer this week when asked about the player and what role he can play. “Sam’s been good. I’ve been impressed. Good mentality,” adding, “I think at times he showed great responsibility in possession [last Saturday].”

Nicholson started in center midfield along with Jack Price and Enzo Martinez last Saturday, playing 67 minutes. So far, Hudson clearly sees him as a midfielder who can provide offense. So far this year, the Rapids seem to have played with a No. 6 (Price), a No. 8 (mostly Johan Blomberg and Nana Boateng), and a do-it-all roamer (Martinez).

Nicholson seems to be getting along and getting used to his assignment in the team. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve gotten to know my teammates over the week or so,” he told Last Word on Soccer. “[Hudson]’s been clear with his instructions. It’s about me just adjusting to it. It’s more detailed here.”

“Hopefully a bit more attacking and getting into good areas in the opposite half. Try to get some goals and assists. Once I get more used to the system and the tactics, hopefully, it will come.”

A 3-5-2 seems to be the most balanced if the three center mids are a No. 6, a No. 8, and a No. 10. The Rapids don’t really have one of those right now. Shkelzen Gashi doesn’t really fit perfectly into that role since he’s more of a second forward. Then there’s the Stefan Aigner situation that has him out of the team sheet at the moment.

Nicholson could be the stop-gap solution to stabilize the Rapids midfield and bring some attacking flair from up the middle. He certainly fits the mold.

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