The Colorado Rapids usually receive little attention. They don’t generate the offseason buzz of higher-profile Major League Soccer teams such as the Los Angeles Galaxy, New York City FC or Seattle Sounders FC.
But the Rapids, who play Republic FC on Saturday in a season-opening friendly at Bonney Field, have generated lots of headlines this offseason as they try to bounce back from last year’s disappointing season under third-year coach Pablo Mastroeni.
Colorado (9-15-10) finished last in the 10-team Western Conference and 19th overall, worst in the team’s 20-year history.
According to ESPNFC.com, Colorado is trying to sign U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard from Everton of the English Premier League after trading starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC.
Howard, 36, one of this country’s top soccer names, has played 13 EPL seasons for Manchester United and Everton.
That news broke shortly after the Rapids’ unsuccessful attempt to acquire U.S. national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from the French club Nantes FC. The Rapids also have been linked to Mexican international players Carlos Vela and Alan Pulido.
But Mastreoni told MLS.soccer.com Thursday afternoon that “to my understanding” Colorado hasn’t had any conversations with Howard.
The Rapids signed intriguing Albanian forward Shkelzen Gashi, who scored 31 goals in 55 matches for Basel in the Swiss Super League, to join Irish international Kevin Doyle up top for a team seeking to add offensive punch. The Rapids scored only 33 goals in 34 MLS matches in 2015.
Doyle, who joined the Rapids midway through last season after playing for the Wolverhampton Wanderers of the English Championship League, already is producing in the preseason. He scored a second-half hat trick in the Rapids’ 4-2 win over South Korean side Seongnam FC in a scrimmage Feb. 4. He added another goal Monday in Colorado’s 2-0 exhibition win over Orange County Blues FC, a USL rival of Republic FC.
Midfielder Dillon Powers has returned to the Rapids after spending the offseason on trial with English Championship side Reading FC. He was the 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year and had a team-leading six assists last season.
The team also has signed former Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Marco Pappa and Trinidad and Tobago international defender Mekeil Williams and acquired forward Conor Doyle from D.C. United.
Pappa garnered some negative headlines in December when Seattle police found him in his apartment with a 3-inch stab wound in his abdomen that required surgery. He was with his then-girlfriend, Stormy Keffeler, a Miss Washington USA pageant winner. Seattle police say the case remains under investigation after Pappa gave them several versions of how he sustained the wound.