(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Rapids began the 2013 season in search of
an identity, and it seems as though one is finally starting to emerge after
The Rapids parted ways with forwards Conor Casey and Omar Cummings prior to
the season, while midfielder Jeff Larentowicz also moved on, leaving the team
without three of the key pieces that helped Colorado win the 2010 MLS Cup.
Colorado's seventh-place finish in the Western Conference last season under
first-year head coach Oscar Pareja did little to inspire confidence, and with
a large number of new faces to integrate, expectations weren't exceedingly
lofty in the Mile High City.
After claiming just one point from its first four games this season, Colorado
had the look of an also-ran.
But as the season has worn on, a rookie forward has emerged to lead the team in
scoring and provide the type of spark that could propel the Rapids into the
playoffs and even make them a threat to some of the West's star-studded
That rookie is Deshorn Brown, a 22-year-old Jamaican who was the sixth overall
selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
Edson Buddle was looked at as the team's top option at forward prior to the
season after he was acquired in an offseason trade from Los Angeles.
And while Buddle has tallied four goals in 21 games this term, the energetic
Brown is the team's top offensive option.
"I'm just trying to work more consistently in front of the goal," Brown said
prior to the start of the season when asked what adjustments he needed to
make upon his arrival in MLS. "I need to get back that calmness I used to have
in front of the goal. I know the guys (in MLS) are faster, stronger and think
quicker, so I'm just going to have to adjust as quick as possible."
The adjustment period for Brown didn't last long as he assisted on a goal in
his second MLS appearance and scored his first goal in the next game.
With nine goals and three assists, Brown has clearly adjusted to life in MLS,
and has emerged as one of the leading candidates for MLS Rookie of the Year.
His skill set was on full display on Saturday in Colorado's most impressive
performance of the season, a 5-1 thrashing of Seattle.
The Sounders came into the game as the hottest team in the league and riding a
seven-game unbeaten streak.
But Brown scored just 14 seconds into the game and added another goal in the
31st minute as his team built a 4-0 halftime lead.
The first goal showed just how comfortable Brown has become in front of goal
as he took a pass inside the penalty area on the left and calmly slotted his
shot inside the far post.
With the Rapids already up 2-0, Brown scored again in the 31st minute by
bulling his way through a Seattle defender and racing into the box before
another clinical finish extended Colorado's lead.
At 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Brown is a physically strong forward with good speed
and has shown a natural instinct for scoring goals.
He is a handful for any defender and is even more dangerous with the arrival of
forwards Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres.
Both players came to Commerce City in the past few months, and they add
another dimension to an ever-improving Rapids attack.
Sanchez has already assisted on four goals in his first six games, while
Torres netted his first goal for the club on Saturday and also assisted on
another in five games.
With three wins from their last four matches, the Rapids sit tied with Los
Angeles in fourth place, only four points from the top of the conference.
Teams like Seattle, Real Salt Lake and two-time defending champion Los Angeles
have talent-laden rosters, but Colorado is coming together at the right time
and promises to be a tough out for any of those sides.
And at the center of it all for the Rapids is a rookie who has not only
adjusted to life in MLS, but has thrived to it.
The Sports Network