Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coaching Future

The Rapids are midway between the end of the Clavijo-era and the end of the season. Its time to take another look at the long-term coaching possibilities. There haven't been any rumors of new names likely to land the job, so we're dealing with the same gang of four as we had last time.

1. Gary Smith - Interim Head Coach

Smith was given the reins for the last third of the season. So far he's 2-1-2 (3-1-2 if you count the last game of the Clavijo era that he managed). The team is showing more cohesiveness and stability under his control, but there are still questions about his use (or lack thereof) of certain players, namely Christian Gomez and Bouna Coundoul.

Smith has obviously straightened out a number of the problems in the Rapids organization. He also has the team on the best 3 game streak in over a year. There are still a tough 5 games left where the bloom may come off the rose, but based on the team's play in the first 5 games under Smith I would consider him a big leader in the race. The remaining question mark is his official ties to Arsenal (He was originally brought over from Arsenal to set up the Gunners' youth team in Colorado) and if he's willing to leave that job to take over a MLS team, and if Arsenal is willing to let him leave.

3. John Spencer - Assistant Coach, Houston Dynamo

I think Spencer would be the goto guy if Smith fails to get the job done this year, or passes on the offer. Once again the Dynamo are leading the Western Conference, even with the extra games they've played in other competitions. and they are the favorite to return to MLS Cup for a 3rd straight year. Obviously as Assistant Coach Spencer only gets a bit of the credit for the performance, but it shows that he's in an organization that has figured out how to succeed in MLS which is what the Rapids desperately need. The issue with Spencer will continue to be money, will Colorado be willing to pay what he wants? I list him as a 3 though because I think there's that much of a gap between Smith and everyone else right now.

4. John Murphy - Director of Player Development

We haven't heard anything out of Murphy since the coaching change, even when making the last couple of player moves. This leads me to believe that he's not likely to be the next coach and he has his focus elsewhere, be it a GM/Player Management role with the Rapids or possibly a position in Europe. I think if he were seriously interested and/or the Rapids were seriously considering him we'd see him more involved in the first team during this playoff push.

6. Paul Mariner - Assistant Head Coach, New England Revolution

At this point I think Mariner is a real long shot. I think the Rapids are likely to come to an agreement with one of the first 3, and Mariner will only be approached if all three of them unexpectedly fall through. Even then I wouldn't be surprised if somebody that's not on this list gets the job before Mariner.

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