The Colorado Rapids made major adjustments this off-season and at some point in time, all of their major acquisitions have been carrying the team. Currently, it is Shkelzen Gashi’s turn.
The Albanian had a slow start to the season despite bringing over two straight seasons of being the Swiss Super League’s golden boot winner. There was a lot of hype on this guy to make an impact and for awhile, it was slow going. A few blips of brilliance were offset by a bit of staleness.
That was okay though, because Jermaine Jones showed up and carried the load. The rambunctious USMNT veteran arrived with a vengeance. Six games out to start the season was enough to wind him up to carry the team for a brief period. But that came to an end, as he faltered in the slightest after his initial few games.
Waiting there to carry the load was who else but Shkelzen Gashi, who has absolutely started clicking lately. He has scored two goals, added two assists, and snagged three man of the match performances in his last six matches. The best example of him rising to the forefront came against Columbus at Mapfre, when he was the primary creator and attacker in the Colorado offense.
Against Columbus, Gashi fired five of his six shots on target and created four chances. Compare that to Jones, Luis Solignac and Kevin Doyle, who all combined for eight shots, just three on target, and four chances created.
Gashi carried the load.
However, the difference between Gashi or Jones ‘carrying’ the team versus some other examples of teams being carried by superstars is pretty obvious. Colorado never solely relies on one person, and in the event that one person does rise up, a different person will the next day. After Gashi put up a fantastic performance against Sporting Kansas City, he had a let down against the Red Bulls where Jones picked up the slack.
It’s a magnificent system of checks and balances. I was going to make a joke about how it could put the US government to shame, but let’s pass on a political joke for now.
Colorado’s acquisitions this off-season were, in a word, perfect. They have combined masterfully to the point that no one is relied upon too heavily and anyone in that front four can take the reigns and drive the team. It is such a unique case to have so many newly-acquired individuals establish such a relationship so quickly. A lot of it has to come down to Pablo Mastroeni, who, as Jones told us earlier in the year, is keenly aware of the players needs.
The Rapids are ranked No. 1 in the MLS power rankings, as fits their top spot in the race for the Supporter’s Shield.