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Colorado Cunningham
Denver, CO - While being occupied by the 2005 MLS Superdraft, the Rapids also sacrificed their first pick in 2006 to acquire ex-Columbus Crew striker Jeff Cunningham.

It seems likely that the primary motive of this exchange was that the Rapids are going for experience over youth. There are both pros and cons to this decision.

The veteran does have appeal. He is a experienced striker that can score. Over a span of 182 games with the Crew, he had a grand total of 62 goals and 43 assists during his seven-year stay in Columbus. This past year, he appeared in 30 games with 9 goals and 4 assists as Columbus enjoyed a comfortable first place spot in the East Conference table. Cunningham's experience could be potential replacement with John Spencer's departure. He could be the extra little boost that the Rapids attack sorely needed in 2004.

At 28 years old, it is not likely that Cunningham will improve any further into the league-dominating forward the Rapids have never possessed. This likely means that he will be only a sort term solution, compared to a younger player with the potential to continue developing under the Rapids over time. Age may have been part reason for his inconsistency in the Crew's lineup, and with older players being more susceptible to injury the last thing Colorado needs is another big signing in the doctor's office.

Despite draft-day adjustments, the Rapids still seem to have done little to improve the situation in the midfield. Passing and playmaking were a huge problem in 2004 due to a lack of attacking support in the center of the park, relying heavily on the forwards making the plays. A good offense has the midfield building the attack and using the stickers to finish the play, with most goals coming from support in numbers -- not a stranded striker in a sea of defenders.

Chung and Henderson both have attacking vision, but float on the wings. Beckerman meanwhile, showed no vision whatsoever while Powell struggled with injures most of the season. Issues like this limited the attacking options in 2004; for all the good defense played by the Rapids' center mids, it was all useless without leads to protect. This was the fatal weakness of Tim Hankinson's setup.

The Rapids already have Pedro up top, and several contenders for the second spot. Perhaps a the more logical move would have been to find a strong playmaker for the midfield.

At this time the value of this trade is a toss-up. It's no secret that the Rapids attack excelled at mediocrity, so it is good that they at least made the right choice of adding depth to the attack in Cunningham.
January 14, 2005 Patrick Quinn



Email: sean@mlsfan.net

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Scores
Sat., Apr. 14th
6:00PM ET
Salt Lake 0
Columbus 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
New England 0
Toronto 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
DC United 0
Kansas City Wizards 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
8:30PM ET
Houston 0
Chivas USA 0

Sat., Apr. 15th
3:00PM ET
New York 0
Dallas 0

Sun., Apr. 15th
8:00PM ET
Colorado 0
Chicago 0

Standings
East
Team Name Pts
Chicago 3
Columbus 1
New York 1
DC United 0
Kansas City 0
New England 0
Toronto 0

West
Team Name Pts
Dallas 4
Chivas USA 3
Colorado 3
Houston 1
Los Angeles 1
Salt Lake 1

Top Ten Scorers
Top 10 Scorers
Player Name Gls
Ruiz 2
Cooper 2
Cunningham 2
Kljestan 1
Brown 1
Emilio 1
H. Gomez 1
Findley 1
Razov 1
Pause 1