Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013 Player of the Year: Clint Irwin

There were a lot of options for Player of the Year this year, which was a change from 2012 when the choices were Pickens, Pickens, or Pickens.  Looking back at my Player of the Match choices I gave it to 14 different players, 7 players more than once, and 4 players more than twice.  Those final 4 were Irwin, Brown, Sanchez, and Powers.  Out of the group Irwin got my award 9 times which made him the choice but I couldn't argue with any of the 4.

Irwin was a nobody who was a backup in the USL last year and who got a tryout chance with the Rapids in the pre-season and signed as the 3rd keeper replacing Ian Joyce.  After Ceus had a disastrous outing in the season opener in Dallas, allowing a ball to bounce over him for the only goal Pickens returned to the lineup for the next game against Philly before breaking his arm in the 5th minute of the RMC match in Salt Lake.  Enter Clint Irwin, who had taken the backup role from Ceus after the Dallas game.  Once Ceus stepped between the pipes though he never left, starting every league game from that moment on.  He set a MLS record facing a PK in each of his first 4 starts, saving one (against FSL no less) and having a second go off the post.  He tied a team record for shutouts in a season on a team that has had keepers like Marcus Hahnemann, Adin Brown, Joe Cannon, Bouna Coundoul, and Matt Pickens.

A guy who had no MLS experience and no expectations on him put up one of the best goalkeeping seasons in team history.  His career GAA of 1.10 is 5th best in league history and would be the 4th best season GAA a Rapids keeper had, just slightly behind the 1.06 of Hahnemann, 1.07 of Cannon, and 1.08 of Coundoul.  Clearly much more than was ever expected of him.

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