Rapids beat writer Brendan Ploen answers questions from the Rapids Mailbag periodically throughout the season. Pose a Rapids — or MLS — related question.
Do you reckon (Cole) Basset has what it takes to succeed at Feyenoord Rotterdam? -Michiel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Woah, a big day: Rapids Mailbag has gone international!
Since arriving at the famed Dutch club in January, Bassett has made six substitute appearances in league play. He recently had his longest stint of 2022 playing the second half last weekend against Go Ahead Eagles, when he completed 14-of-17 passes, and he has one assist on the year.
When my colleague Matt Pollard of Last Word on Soccer visited Rotterdam last month, he asked manager Arne Slot a similar question. Slot had high praise for the 18-year-old Littleton native, saying he had “a lot of fighting spirit,” but also had to improve in small spaces. The Dutch are diligent when it comes to making sure promising players are ready to put in the heavy lifting before playing them.
He has done the heavy lifting countless times in Colorado and now has a clear sense for how effort is woven into Rotterdam’s culture. If he can stay healthy, watch out. Feyenoord fans can expect him to play a big role next season.
At what point does Robin Frasier start to look at other options for scoring and offense such as Darren Yapi and Philip Mayaka? I think it’s clear that Jonathan Lewis and Max Alves need some time on the bench. -Eric, Denver
I’m not necessarily sure I agree with that. While the production from the wings has been lacking, who’s missing? Braian Galván and Bassett, both of whom played out wide at times last year. Lewis has been solid as an inverted winger at breaking the lines and has gotten into scoring positions (second-best on the team in expected goals at 2.4, third-best in shots on target per 90 minutes at 1.25). He just has to finish his chances. Max needs more time. MLS stylistically is more rugged than Brazil and it’s an adjustment period.
Yapi is a true center forward and moved up to the No. 3 striker on the depth chart, and sure, while Mayaka could fill in, it’s also a big leap from Rapids 2 to the first team. Right now for Colorado it’s time to sink or swim. I think they’ll figure out a way to swim with Lewis and Max.
What are your thoughts on the different tactics that Fraser has put out this season? Should he continue with the four-at-the-back system they used against Portland and San Jose, or return to the 3-4-3? Does the answer change when Trusty leaves in July? -Joseph, Boulder
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So far I think the tactics have been solid on paper but seeing it work in-action hasn’t necessarily been a home run. Colorado has gone with 4-3-3 in each of the last two games, differing from three-in-the-back it has used at other points this year, but I think the team will revert back to the 3-4-3 for Saturday.
Regrading future formations, Auston Trusty covers so much ground he almost is a fourth defender. In Vallecilla, the trust with Danny Wilson and Lalas Abubakar still has to be cemented to where they know he can step out to cover the muddied area between where a left-wing back or midfielder might be, something that Trusty excels at. Until it is, I can see a four-back system for extra cover.
Is there anything being done at DSGP to help the crowd understand a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) ruling in real time? -Mark, Colorado Springs
MLS at times experimented with something similar to rugby’s version of VAR, the Technical Match Official (TMO). In rugby matches, fans on TV can hear the referee and the TMO discuss the decision live, but those in-stadium cannot. It can be frustrating to not understand what’s being discussed, or view the play on the video board, which is why reporters tend to put in questions to the league refereeing office (like the San Jose call last week) following the match to get clarity. Until the league finds a solution for all parties, fans will have to remain on the edge of their seats.