Why Sam Nicholson Left Colorado Rapids and What’s Next for Both Parties

Sam Nicholson Hearts
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 29: Sam Nicholson #28 of the Colorado Rapids runs onto the ball during a game between Colorado Rapids and D.C. United at Audi Field on February 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tony Quinn/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Sam Nicholson is no longer a member of Colorado Rapids. This past Thursday, his contract was terminated by mutual consent. This announcement came as a surprise but there are a few clues as to why this happened and what’s next for the right winger and his now former club.

Why Sam Nicholson Left Colorado Rapids and What’s Next for Both Parties

Nicholson arrived in MLS in the summer of 2017 from Heart of Midlothian. The winger recorded 2 goals and 2 assists in 20 appearances over 10 months with Minnesota United FC. The Loons were poor offensively in 2017 and 2018.

He was then traded to Colorado Rapids in May of 2018. He leaves Colorado recording 4 goals and 6 assists in 46 appearances. Nicholson was an offensive spark for a team lacking an in form striker at times.

The underlying numbers aren’t eye catching, but most of his goal contributions were spectacular and key to the Burgundy and Blue getting results in close games.

After overcoming a niggling back injury in 2018, he was a regular starter and contributor last year. The 2020 season was set for Colorado’s return to the MLS Cup Playoffs with Sam Nicholson ready to peak as the starting right winger.

Why he and the club parted ways:

In a goodbye message to supporters, Nicholson said “this is to help me deal with some personal matters going on back home. I’m very grateful to the club for being so understanding to the other side of soccer and football, family.”

Nicholson was open with the media in his time in MLS about the importance of his support group at the club and externally. Lots of Europeans have to adjust in coming to MLS with home sickness being a factor. He needed that support group to help him overcome his back issues physically and mentally two years ago.

There’s clearly something going on off the pitch that he needs to deal with. It could be COVID-19 related. With MLS under precarious circumstances in 2020, the time of his departure isn’t terrible. He isn’t doing wrong by the club in leaving at this time.

The club was going in a younger direction in the long term. Nicholson probably would have been starter this entire season and next year. His market value both within MLS and abroad would have made him a candidate for being transferred in a few years once the youngsters were ready for a starting role.

What’s next for Colorado:

Colorado Rapids open the MLS is Back tournament on Sunday July 12 against Real Salt Lake. They have plenty of options and quality on the wing with Nicholson gone. Diego Rubio and Andre Shinyashiki have played wide at times. Nicolas Benezet is fit after not playing in the first two games this season. Briain Galvan could become available for selection during the month of July.

The Rapids will miss Nicholson’s experience. None of their other wingers (save for Jonathan Lewis who mostly plays on the left) have the same 1-v-1 attacking skills or crossing ability. There will have to be some adjustments in that regard. Still the wings in Robin Fraser’s 4-3-3 are positions where they have the most options.

What’s next for Sam Nicholson:

Scottish Football is looking to start the 2020-21 season in August. Much of Europe won’t start league play until at least September with August being reserved for the completion of the Champions League.

Nicholson is presumably returning home to Edinburgh, Scotland. He’s out of contract and available on free transfer. Assuming the player doesn’t lose all his fitness and his family situation can be resolved in a month or two, he could sign during the primary transfer window and play this fall.

With the transfer market disrupted by the pandemic, a proven player already in the country and out of contract would be highly sought after. Given his trajectory, if Sam Nicholson has a proper preseason, he could easily sign and become an impact player for the right SPL or English Championship team.

What a story it would be if Nicholson returns to Tynecastle Park to get Hearts promoted.

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