No offense to the LA Galaxy, who signed some very big names this offseason, the Colorado Rapids made the biggest splash this MLS offseason. We all expected the Galaxy to splash the cash for older talent but not the Rapids. By getting Jermaine Jones and now Tim Howard, the Rapids feel they are getting serious in making a playoff run. But is this actually going make Colorado better or is this just window dressing for more futility for the 2010 champs.
Ever since their 2010 MLS Cup win, the Colorado Rapids has about fallen off the face of the earth. Colorado held on in 2011 and made the Eastern Conference Semifinals (don’t ask why they were in the East) but experienced a sharp decline in 2012. What looked like a renaissance in 2013 ended when Oscar Pareja left to join FC Dallas. Pablo Mastroeni stepped in and the Rapids have fallen to 8th and last place finishes in the Western Conference the past two years.
The Colorado Rapids can also be seen as a team that doesn’t like to spend money. While some call the team cheap, others may say that the Rapids just want to spend their money wisely. Now, they’re going after big names and aren’t afraid to spend on Jones and Howard. In fairness to Colorado, Jermaine Jones isn’t going to cost the Rapids nearly as much as the New England Revolution paid for him. Last year, New England paid $3 million and this year, Colorado is paying $550,000 for Jones’ services according to Grant Wahl and will miss Jones for six games while he is on suspension.
Colorado will be paying more for Tim Howard, way more. Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is reporting Howard will receive between $2.5 and and $2.8 million per year. And out of the other 20 goalkeepers currently starting in MLS, Tim Howard will make more than all 20 combined.
Tim Howard's salary reported as high as $2.8m a year, more than all current MLS starting GK's made in 2015 combined. pic.twitter.com/VaXOTzNVFZ
— Kurt Austin (@kaustin01) March 20, 2016
For an MLS goalkeeper, that is A LOT of money. I’m not saying goalkeepers are a “dime a dozen” but there are some very great goalkeepers who are arguably better than Tim Howard and will cost 10% of the pay. Nick Rimando has been regarded as the best goalkeeper in MLS for the past decade and he will be paid 13% of what Howard will make. Tim Howard has done way more than Rimando worldwide and he will surely raise Colorado’s profile and put some more butts in the seats but this just seems like flushing money down a toilet.
That, and goalkeeping wasn’t Colorado’s issue in the first place. Sure, some may think it’s an issue now after seeing Zac MacMath screwing up yesterday against D.C. United but on the whole, goalkeeping was solid especially when compared to other parts of that team. Scoring less than a goal per game last season, offensive firepower was needed for the Rapids and didn’t spend the cash for that. Colorado tried to go for value and get Conor Doyle, Shkelzen Gashi and Marco Pappa to help turn their offensive woes around but with only two goals in three games, that less than a goal per game ratio is staying strong albeit it’s a small sample size.
So is Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones going to make the Colorado Rapids better? It depends on how you measure how good an MLS team is. In terms of marketing, exposure and expecting rises in attendance, the Rapids are better. In terms of on field performance and if this causes Colorado to make the playoffs, I highly doubt that. There were other areas more suitable to spend money on than goalkeeper and defensive midfielder and this just looks more like a diversion toward their fans. It’s almost as if Colorado has brought on these players as a distraction for their fans so they don’t focus on the issues that needed fixing to go on a serious playoff run. Maybe Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones are the start of a renewed investment and we’re in the middle of a bigger plan for the Colorado Rapids but if the Rapids want to be considered as a contender, they need to do more than sign aging USMNT stars.