Colorado Rapids, Vancouver Whitecaps improve weaknesses in Zac MacMath-Nicolas Mezquida trade

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VANCOUVER, BC - SEPTEMBER 01: Nicolas Mezquida (11) of the Vancouver Whitecaps celebrates his goal against the San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place on September 1, 2018 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Christopher Morris - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (December 10, 2018) – During the half-day trade window before the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps FC made a trade. The Rapids sent goalkeeper Zac MacMath north of the border in exchange for midfielder/forward Nicolas Mezquida and $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

Rapids and Whitecaps improve weaknesses in Zac MacMath, Nicolas Mezquida trade

Both clubs are undergoing a transition this off-season. New Caps manager Marc dos Santos is building his roster after years of the Whitecaps being middle of the pack in the Western Conference. On the other side, Padraig Smith and Anthony Hudson continue to mold Colorado towards the vision that is the Rapids Way. In this move, both clubs traded a spare part for something they needed.

The Whitecaps perspective:

Mezquida was a role player and a holdover from the Carl Robinson era. It always seemed to me that the Caps had a bunch of run and dribble midfielders/wingers that had skill but weren’t that productive. Mezquida had his moments but clearly was behind Cristian Techera, Yordy Reyna, etc. Dos Santos is taking the club in a new direction and the 26-year-old was a movable asset.

Vancouver gave up the third most goals in the Western Conference in 2018. Brian Rowe and Stefan Marinovic just haven’t been up to the task as starting keepers. The Caps also just traded Spencer Richey to expansion side FC Cincinnati. MacMath was one of the best keepers in the league not to be pegged as a starter already for 2019.

Dos Santos probably still needs to make a defensive signing, but at least now they have a proven starter in goal.

The Rapids perspective:

As Hudson stated after the final game of the season, Tim Howard is the starting keeper and captain for the Rapids in 2019. Two big parts of that are the financial and marketing benefits Howard brings to the club. MacMath was still starting caliber when Howard arrived in 2016 but has gathered dust sitting on the bench in the last two and half years. He was arguably the best and highest valued backup goalkeeper in the league prior to this trade.

On the other side, the Rapids have a bunch of holes to fill in their roster. There are questions as to who can reliably fill in the other two positions in the 4-4-2 diamond next to Kellyn Acosta and Jack Price. With the roster decisions made a few weeks ago, the Rapids also only have three forwards on the current roster: Shkelzen Gashi, Niki Jackson, and Sam Nicholson.

Gashi can’t stay fit. Jackson was a rookie this year. Nicholson is listed as a midfielder but had some good performances as a second striker towards the end of the year. Bottom line, the Rapids need potential offensive contributors. Mezquida could provide that from several places on the field. That said, he’s never had more than 4 goals and 1 assist in a year, so this could be a reclamation projection.

Questions do need to be asked of the future of the goalkeeping position for the Rapids though. Howard’s contract is up in a year and all indications are that he intends to retire. Zac MacMath could have easily stepped in as the starter again in 2020. No academy goalkeeper will be ready by then in all likelihood. Another off-season with a significant starting role to fill won’t look good.

TRANSACTION: December 9, 2018 – Colorado Rapids have acquired attacking midfielder Nicolas Mezquida and $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in return for goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

Full Name: Nicolás Mezquida
Age: 26
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 150 lbs.
Birth Date: January 21, 1992
Hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay

Full Name: Zac MacMath
Age: 27
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 190 lbs.
Date of birth: August 7, 1991 in St. Petersburg, Florida
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida

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