In any sport, a championship season depends on getting some breaks at the right times. Some of those breaks occur in the offseason, when the current season’s roster is composed of trades scrutinized by the media as well as those that fly under the radar. The trade of Jeff Larentowicz to the Rapids was the former, one noted by the press. But its true impact wasn’t seen until November when the former Revolution midfielder, who arguably was the MVP of the MLS Cup, helped lead Colorado to their first championship.
The Larentowicz trade this offseason was not a surprise; the Brown graduated needed to get out of town to fully realize his potential. After some overseas try-outs that he admits were not as promising as they seemed as well as offseason surgery, he and Wells Thompson landed in Gary Smith’s lap in a trade both teams needed. Colorado had been watching Larentowicz for some time and was ready for an offer as soon as the overseas possibilities fell through. He was a playoff veteran who would stabilize the Rapids’ midfield.
And stabilize it he did. The 2010 All-Star had a banner year, providing the midfield stability needed for Smith’s team and serving as a defensive stopper. His presence also allowed Pablo Mastroeni to be more involved in the offense where he matched his career high in goals. Plus his stellar season earned him a call to Bob Bradley’s January camp for a shot at making the U.S. national team. Undeniably, acquiring Larentowicz was key to Colorado’s unexpected MLS Cup run.
But what is Colorado had not been able to acquire him this past offseason? While Larentowicz acknowledged that overseas offers were not forthcoming, the trade could have fallen through. Despite his unhappiness playing in Foxborough, the Revolution could have kept him as they went through somewhat of a transition year after their great runs in the late-2000s. If keeper Matt Reis would not have been hurt, the Revolution would not have needed Rapids’ keeper Preston Burpo, an important part of the trade. Or maybe another club, like Philadelphia where he went to high school, could have swept in with a better offer.
A Colorado without Jeff Larentowicz would have been a vastly different team. Without his pairing with Mastroeni, I suspect the Rapids would still be without an MLS Cup. Their defense, which was a team weakness this season, would have been even worse. As for Larentowicz, he may have still been struggling in his career and not have been able to reach his full potential. On the other hand, maybe Philadelphia could have paired him with Sebastian Le Toux. Talk about an interesting midfield pairing!
But what do you think would have happened had Colorado not traded for Larentowicz?