Zac MacMath wanted out of Colorado during the summer transfer window, and the Rapids' demoted goalkeeper told the Denver Post that he will explore possibilities for an offseason move to a club where he can be a No. 1 again.
"“There was a team interested,” MacMath told the newspaper for an article in Thursday's editions, “but the Rapids denied that at the last second -- which that’s their right. I’m their player.”
MacMath has been the Rapids' odd man out since July 4, the date long-time US national team 'keeper Tim Howard made his debut after moving from Premier League side Everton. And with Howard signed through 2019, MacMath doesn't see his long-term future in Colorado.
He hadn't been performing poorly before Howard took over -- the Rapids led the Supporters' Shield standings, had the league's top defense and MacMath's 0.69 goals-against average still leads MLS -- but once the deal was announced, he had no doubt the demotion was coming.
“I kind of knew at that time no matter what I was going to do on the field, it was inevitable that he was going to play,” MacMath said Wednesday. “It’s frustrating, no doubt. A tough couple weeks of adjustment. But at the same time, that’s the name of the game. That’s kind of the business that we play in."
Does the decision to keep MacMath around as a backup, even though Howard is giving up almost a goal a game more, and the Rapids have fallen out of the Shield and Western Conference leads, portend a goalkeeper controversy in Commerce City?
“Absolutely not,” goalkeeper coach Chris Sharpe said, noting that five of the goals against Howard came in one match against New York City FC, with the Rapids reduced to 10 men. “When you look at things statistically — goals-against average — it’s an 11-guys-on-the-field thing. I don’t look at it as one goalkeeper.”
Sharpe, praised MacMath's improvement since he came to Colorado in 2015, saying MacMath got better across the board as a backup to Clint Irwin -- now with Toronto FC -- last year.
“His growth has been tremendous,” Sharpe said. “He’s in the best form this year that he’s been in his career.”
He can do the same behind Howard, Sharpe said.
“He’ll be wonderful for Zac as far as being a presence, a learning experience for Zac, seeing how Tim is day in and day out,” Sharpe said. “And Zac will be wonderful for Tim because I believe — and you saw it last year with Clint — that you need two very good goalkeepers to push each other day in and day out, and that’s what we have.”
Howard, who moved to Everton after losing his No. 1 spot at Manchester United to Dutch star Edwin van der Sar, also framed the current situation as a learning opportunity.
“As [mad] as I was and annoyed that I wasn’t playing, I took the opportunity to learn,” Howard said. “I knew that it would pay dividends down the road, and by God it certainly has. I learned a lot from him from watching his technique, from watching how he played in big games, but that onus is on the individual.”
MacMath said he has paid attention to Howard's professional approach to the game -- but the technical aspects are another matter.
"We’re two different kind of goalkeepers,” MacMath said. “He’s very athletic and he’s a lot quicker than I am. And I have to use my positioning more.”