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WHAT IF 2010: What If Colorado Hadn’t Landed Jeff Larentowicz?

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 21: Jeff Larentowicz  of the Colorado Rapids poses with the Philip F. Anschutz MLS Cup trophy following the MLS Cup final at BMO Field on November 21, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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?

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  1. Cam Jam

    January 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    ….good read and analysis.

    However, with all due respect, I do think Larentowicz was a good acquisiton, he was not at all the only or even major reason we won MLS Cup. Don’t get me wrong, the trade was great: off loading Burpo (nice guy, beer league keeper) and Gibbs (who I think went to Brown as well..) for Wells (especially considering superstar Coling Clark re-tore his ACL) and Jeff were certainly smart on-the-field moves and worked out in Colorado’s favor. Gary Smith is a genius and this comes from being an Arsenal man..

    He (Jeff) has a couple of rocket goals and his a good holding middie with bite. Now I say this as a Pids fan and season ticket holder since 96’…he also is a bit bulky and gets burned often by foot savvy and fast attackers and midfielders with quick feet. I have seen it time and again. He does not have great foot skills either, but has been an asset. Like I said, he is a good defensive type that is tough and will be the obvious Pablo replacement when he retires at the end of 2011.

    I still think my beloved team won MLS Cup first and foremost because of Conner Casey and Omar Cummings…period. How can you say that any other player(s) were more pivotal in the Pids lifting their first title?? C’mon..that is crazy talk! This is THE best attacking combo in the league. They both have scored SO many critical goals and critical moments througout the 2010 season…

    So, good write up and props for mentioning the Rapids because we get the shaft in the press….but you must be out here visiting one of our fine marijuana dispensaries and getting a Rocky Mtn High if you think the Jeff was the reason we are champs! C’mon cat….get real…

  2. Charles

    January 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Happy New Year Robert Hay.

    Thanks for the great posts in 2010.

    One thing that the regular season only guys need to realize is situations like this. He joins a team in the offseason, it will take a while for them to mesh.

    Remember all the calls for Salt Lake as a joke when they won in 2009 ?
    Where are those guys now ? They are talking about how Colorado shouldn’t have won, Salt Lake should have.

    Very excited for the season to start, because while many are focused on how great NY-LA are going to be, I see quite a few other teams that will shine brighter. Maybe even Colorado.

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