Gary Smith, head coach of the Colorado Rapids, is still tinkering mentally with his roster days ahead of the home opener against Kansas City Wizards. Nowhere is his mind maybe more focused than on upfront where last night's friendly against Metro State allowed him to take a good look at Gregory Richardson and Ross Schunk, the obvious back-ups to frontline strikers Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. The replacements did well enough, both scoring two second-half goals each as the Rapids raced to a 6-0 victory over the college team. Richardson showed plenty of skill and Schunk was strong in holding off defenders. Richardson will clearly be the number one back-up for now, understandable as Schunk is fresh out of college. "Gregory is a very laid back character and he possesses an awful lot of talent," Smith said after the game. "He has nice creativity but what I'd like to see less of is him dropping off deep into areas where he is less effective." Smith was also pleased with Schunk but justifiably conceded it is "maybe a little bit early for him." As he has made no secret of in the past, Smith reiterated his desire to bring in another forward with more experience and caliber. And that forward may come in sooner than the summer, he suggested last night.
Another area that remains up for grabs is the right side of midfield where Terry Cooke and Jacob Peterson are competing. Cooke was named Man of the Match last night for a strong performance which included a fine shot for the opening goal as well as plenty of trademark crosses. Peterson also scored a goal early in the second half. "Jake has a lot of pace and athleticism but may be lacking that finer polish in the final third," Smith said. "Terry showed terrific delivery but, at this stage in his career, he's not going to threaten regularly by getting behind the defense." So, we shall see. I fancy Cooke to start this weekend. Smith said there will be few changes for the Kansas game with the notable exception of Pablo Mastroeni not being available as he is away with the national team in El Salvador. "What's for sure is that it will be a very young midfield," Smith said. "More of the same is what we are after," he added, referring to what he saw as a positive performance against Chivas last week. "We will press Kansas early and make full use of our home turf and of the altitude."
Talking of rosters, expect an announcement in the near future from the Rapids. I cannot say more for now as it is not yet official but there will be a new signing in the next day or so.