Analysis

So, your MLS team missed the playoffs? Time to make this player its centerpiece

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Colorado Rapids: Dillon Serna

Isaiah J. Downing - USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah J. Downing - USA TODAY Sports

The first order of business in what's sure to be an exceedingly busy offseason for Colorado? Make sure Serna is signed up for 2018. The homegrown midfielder, revered for his long-range accuracy and creative instincts, seems on the verge of a real breakthrough after five hit-and-miss years, but he's out of contract.

Colorado is negotiating, and, yes, it's a priority, one among many. The Rapids are in need of so many things before the 2018 season kicks off -- starting with a head coach that doesn't have “interim” in his title -- after following 2016's stunning run to the Western Conference final with a horrendous campaign.

Serna, 23, is a real dazzler. A left-footed winger with a creative streak, he's capable of pulling off something special every time he takes the field. He's just not always seen the playing time he needs -- he saw far more action in 2014 than in any year since -- and his progress was slowed by the torn ACL that prematurely ended his 2016 season.

He impressed when he was finally ready to go this year, with a beauty of a goal in his first start and as an attacking spark, off the bench as often in the XI. He's been the future of this club for several years, and that future might be just around the corner.

-- Scott French

Minnesota United: Kevin Molino

Brad Rempel - USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel - USA TODAY Sports

It’s tempting to look at Christian Ramirez’s 14 goals, recognize goal-scoring will always be scarce, and say that the Loons should build around the club’s long-time fixture. But asking the 26-year-old to continue producing at a goal rate that mimics his NASL production may be a bit much, and having only generated 9.99 expected goals in 2017 (per AmericanSoccerAnalysis.com), Ramirez is unlikely to continue being quite as prolific.

Kevin Molino, on the other hand, is somebody the team can literally build around. His seven-goal, nine-assist 2017 season was similar to his previous campaign, when he put up 11 and eight in Orlando. Able to play through the middle or wide, the Trinidad and Tobago international gives head coach Adrian Heath a playmaker to target out of the back as well as somebody who, regardless of the striker up top, can generate chances for the squad.

With Abu Danladi in the team, Minnesota has options up top. Molino, however, is the only Loon who would could qualify as a creator. The attack has to be formed around him.

- Richard Farley

NEXT: Designated Players the obvious choices in Orlando, Montreal