Coaching fallout in Colorado could lead to assistants
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The coaching overhaul in Colorado won’t likely end with former head coach Gary Smith.
Rapids managing director Jeff Plush told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that it’s unlikely that anyone associated with Smith would have their contracts extended, meaning assistant coach Steve Guppy (above) will also leave the club. Guppy, who played with Smith during their professional days in England, joined the Rapids staff in 2009.
Reserve team coach Brett Jacobs and goalkeeping coach Dave Kramer may also lose their positions.
Smith and the Rapids parted ways on Monday after the two sides failed to agree on Smith’s contract, ending an era in Colorado that included the club’s first-ever MLS Cup championship and back-to-back playoff berths in 2010 and 2011.
Although the financial details of Smith’s contract were reportedly not part of the conflict, there was apparently an impasse that simply couldn’t be overcome between Smith and technical director Paul Bravo.
Plush told the Denver Post on Monday there were fundamentally different viewpoints between the two parties about how to move the club forward.
"Reasonable people can disagree what the right next path is, whether that's players or travel [arrangements]," Plush told the paper. "There's any number of things. I wouldn't pin it on any one thing. I think it's more philosophical."
Plush told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that Bravo, who played for five seasons with the Rapids from 1997-2001, is not a candidate for the vacant head coach position.
“I am sure Paul will be very helpful in the search process, but he has never been a candidate,” Plush said.
Smith, for his part, rejected the idea on Monday that the parting of ways between coach and club was a mutual agreement.
“[The official release] says we came to a decision,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “I can’t remember me being a part of that decision. After all that we achieved, I do find it totally disrespectful. There was only speculation because it was coming from the uncertainty regarding my future. I was very outspoken about my relationship with Paul, but we had sat down with the club chaplain to try and move forward in the last month or so.”
Plush told ESPN.com that the issue boiled down to a difference of opinion on the decision-making process involving players and personnel moves.
"We feel it's important to get a difference of opinion, to have a collaborative process," Plush told ESPN.com. "That's what we've seen in some of our other sports organizations. Gary wanted more of that power to rest in his chair. That's not necessarily right or wrong, but we have a mindset of collaboration."
Meanwhile, Portland Timbers head coach and former Rapids star John Spencer told Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson that he is not interested in coaching his former club. Spencer, who played with the Rapids from 2001-04 and led them to the postseason three times during that span, was considered the top candidate to replace Smith.
Wilkinson approached Spencer to gauge his interest in the position, and eventually declined Colorado’s official request to speak with Spencer.
“Colorado, it’s a place that he holds very dear to his heart,” Wilkinson told MLSsoccer.com. “His quote to me was, ‘Colorado is home, but Portland is the home of soccer.’”
Plush told MLSsoccer.com that the priority for a new coach would be someone from within the league.