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Western Conference Preview: Colorado Rapids

What can we expect in 2016 from the last place finisher in the 2015 Western Conference?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After a horrendous 2015, big changes were needed going into 2016. Changes have been made, but they don't make much sense. The Rapids could use just about anyone to help their attack, but instead added only one player of note and jettisoned their starting goalkeeper.

During the SuperDraft, the Rapids moved up to the top spot in the allocation order so that they could bring in American attacking midfielder Alejandro Bedoya home from Nantes. But Bedoya did not come. They then turned their attention to up-and-coming Mexican striker Alan Pulido, who is plying his trade with Olympiacos. Rumor has it that coach Pablo Mastroeni flew to Greece only for Pulido to refuse to sign.

Next, Colorado set their sights on Tim Howard, who would become the first Designated Player goalkeeper in MLS history if signed. When asked, Roberto Martinez denied that Everton had even received a bid from Colorado. The Rapids sent 26-year old starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto and didn't receive much in return. Goalkeeping was not the problem on this team. Irwin has a solid decade in front of him, while Howard has a few great years ahead at most. Colorado needs to be building for the future, not chasing a goalkeeper facing a precipitous decline. The Rapids have been rumored to have finally signed Tim Howard but he will not arrive until summer, so Zac MacMath will start on opening day.

Colorado dealt midfielder Marcelo Sarvas to DC United. They became the first MLS club to loan out a Designated Player when they shipped Juan Ramirez to Almeria. The Rapids picked up unreliable but sometimes brilliant winger Marco Pappa, who was stabbed by Miss Washington USA in his apartment in December. Eric Miller is a solid fullback pickup, as the club had sent Maynor Figuroa to FC Dallas. Mekeil Williams arrives at left back as a Trinidad and Tobago international having played in Guatemala.

The only substantive upgrade in the attack is Albanian international forward Shkëlzen Gashi. Gashi was the leading scorer in the Swiss League in each of the past two seasons, having scored 19 goals for Grasshopper Zürich in 2013-14 and 22 goals for FC Basel last year. Gashi has scored 3 goals in 11 appearances for Albania. He brings a much-needed goalscoring ability to Commerce City. Still, who will be able to link the midfield and deliver the ball to him? The holes in Colorado's roster mean that they are likely to bunker and leave Gashi stranded with no supply.

Bottom Line: With only one legitimate attacking player signed and gaps everywhere on the roster, the Rapids have failed to make the monumental changes needed to get this dismal team out of the basement.

Colorado Projected Strongest Lineup: