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 Friday, September 14, 2001 24:18 EST

2000 Colorado Rapids at a glance

[SportsTicker]

Division: Western
Stadium: Mile High Stadium, Denver
Soccer capacity: 17,500
Investor/Operator: Philip F. Anschutz
Head coach: Glenn "Mooch" Myernick

1999 record and finish: 20-12 (48 points), fourth place in West
1999 offensive ranking: 9, (38 goals, 1.19 per game)
1999 defensive ranking: 4, (39 goals, 1.22 per game)

Top returning scorer: Jorge Dely Valdes (10 goals + 6 assists = 26 points)
Key returning players: Marcelo Balboa, Jorge Dely Valdes, Anders Limpar, Paul Bravo

New players of note: Adin Brown, Henry Zambrano, Scott Vermillion
Key departed players: Wolde Harris, Matt McKeon, Ian Feuer, Peter Vermes

Outlook
With the team 12-4 at the All-Star break and a nine-point lead atop the Western Conference, Colorado struggled down the stretch in 1999, going 8-8 before falling to Los Angeles in a two-game playoff sweep. Included in that late season struggle was a 679-minute scoring drought to end the season (including 180 minutes in the playoffs).

Injuries hurt the Rapids in 1999, as Anders Limpar (the Swedish import and Premier League veteran who runs Colorado's possession game), Paul Bravo (the team's all-time leading scorer), Ross Paule (the third-year player known for his creativity and hard-nosed midfield play), Joey DiGiamarino (the rising young American flank player who graduated from the Project-40 program) and Jason Bent (the Canadian defender/midfielder whose poise and dependability helped solidify the defense) missed nearly 50 combined starts. The transfer of goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann to the English First Division just 13 games into the campaign only complicated matters.

Head coach Glenn Myernick made a variety of offseason moves, jettisoning forward Wolde Harris, midfielder Matt McKeon and defender Peter Vermes. However, defensive stalwart Marcelo Balboa returns, as does Panamanian goal scorer Jorge Dely Valdes (10 goals and six assists in 1999). First-round SuperDraft pick Adin Brown from the of William and Mary will most likely start immediately, but journeyman David Kramer was acquired for insurance purposes. Newcomer Scott Vermillion will help the defense and the mid-February addition of Henry Zambrano from the MetroStars should provide Colorado with an excellent compliment to Dely Valdes.

Players to watch
Jorge Dely Valdes lit up opposing MLS teams in 1999, scoring 10 goals and providing fans with his entertaining "phone home" goal celebration. During the preseason, former MetroStar Henry Zambrano showed he and Dely Valdes can be one of the league's most potent scoring combos. Midfielder Anders Limpar controls the flow of the attack for Colorado. Although Ross Paule had an off year by his standard, the young midfielder did have nine assists. Marcelo Balboa will lead a new-look defense that should see rookie Adin Brown starting in goal.

2000 Colorado Rapids roster

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