Monday, November 7, 2011

Smith Out As Head Coach

Well, that time off was a grand total of 3 days. Within the last hour the Rapids have announced that Gary Smith will not be returning as head coach in 2011.

Smith was out of contract and it had been reported a month or so ago that Colorado and Gary had agreed on financial terms for a new contract. However Smith was reportedly unhappy working with Technical Director Paul Bravo and stated that he wasn't willing to sign the new contract until that issue had been dealt with. Apparently the Rapids weren't willing to do enough to suit Smith and both sides decided to go their separate ways today.

It won 't surprise regular readers to learn, unlike a large portion of the Rapids fanbase, that I'm OK with this move. Smith has been the best coach in Rapids history, but that's not a high bar to cross. Clearly he was more successful than any coach in Colorado history, bringing the Rapids their only significant trophy in last year's MLS Cup. Outside of that great playoff run though, Colorado has continued to do just enough in regular season play to stay in the playoff hunt but not really dominate at any point. His roster handling during the CCL was poor and his decision to not even travel to Metapan for the away game was a bad decision. Combined with the "either Bravo goes or I go" stance he seemed to take in his public comments recently it was enough for me to be OK with him going.

Now the question is where the Rapids go from here. Steve Guppy is the first name that pops to mind, following the same path from assistant to head coach as Gary Smith took. He was brought in by Smith though and may leave with him. Some other names that have been floated have been former NE coach Steve Nicol, former Rapids player and Fire coach Denis Hamlett, and former Rapids assistant coach John Murphy. I'm sure we'll see more names surface in the coming days.


jimluk said...

I'll second that, personally I was kinda hoping that they both would leave. Gary was a decent coach, but as an outsider it is hard for me to see how he contributed to player development. We have lots of guys who seem destined to ride the bench forever, if they aren't good enough we should be replacing them with people who are or people with more upside. For the rest I want to see year over year improvement.
As far as Bravo is concerned I see a team that drafts terribly, and doesn't scout foreign talent effectively/at all. We didn't have any players on mls' top 24 under 24 list, we finished next to last in the reserve league, no u-23 call ups, only one homegrown player, etc.
When teams like dallas, seattle, salt lake, kc, hell even portland, toronto and montreal seem to have a better grasp on young foreign talent than we do, its time to question more than just the coach.
One more added bonus, perhaps the team will stop marketing as if all their fans are ex-pats, I'm sick of being referred to as a lad, and hearing fake brit slang, accents and chants in the terraces, that goes to the bulldogs as well as the pids. Bring in some latin flavor and market that, maybe people would show up at the games, there sure seems to be a lot of santos, metapan, and espana fans in denver.

Rod said...

Let's not forget the great job Smith did in turning things around. The team is now truly a team, previously it always seemed to be a bunch of individuals. He brought a sense of competition to the team which allowed them to achieve greater things.

This is the right move for both Smith and the team, let's give him some credit for leaving the team better than he found them.

jimluk said...

I swear I had that on my mind while writing my last comment, I guess I just thought I was already getting longwinded and forgot to actually type it out.
Complements are due to Smith for assembling a team out of castoffs. Especially true last year when they were truly grater than the sum of their parts, and it was a team that had heart.
Also props for (mostly) stemming the tide the tide of costly mistakes that plagued the team for years(although the same can't be said of many bench players)
Hopefully the next coach will have the wisdom to see what has been created here and not opt to blow it all up, just fix the gaps. It would also be wise for our next coach to understand that he is probably not going to be handed a whole lot of cash and rebuilding on a budget is a tough project, keep the core of the team, make necessarily changes, then start to push the FO a little(although this may have been what did Gary in)