Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith knows all about Kerrea Gilbert, the new Portland Timbers defender whose most recent employers were English giants Arsenal.
In fact, Smith even looked at the possibility of bringing Gilbert to Colorado before the 23-year-old signed with the expansion club on Monday.
“Kerrea is somebody I was always very aware of, and he could have been quite a nice addition to our group,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com by phone from England. “We did start a dialog, but it just didn’t fit.”
The Rapids have a long-standing partnership Arsenal. Colorado owner Stan Kroenke is a majority shareholder at the London-based club, and the Rapids regularly go on preseason trips to London to play at the Gunners' training ground.
[inline_node:324520]Smith himself is a product of the Arsenal network, having previously worked as a scout for the organization.
Though Smith said it's only a matter of time before the partnership with the EPL club produces some Arsenal-trained players for the Rapids, in Gilbert's case, it just wasn't a good fit for the Rapids.
“It wasn’t something that financially could fit into the budgets we had, and it wasn’t really a necessity to add another right back when there are other areas that need more attention,” he said.
Expansion clubs, such as the Portland Timbers, receive extra allocation money to help build their rosters, which would have made it hard for the Rapids to compete for Gilbert's signature.
Besides, Smith would ideally like another center back to support Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor now that Julien Baudet has been shipped to Seattle. He described the 5-foot-9 Gilbert as an “out-and-out right back” who is just too small to play centrally.
“I am sure he will do very well for [Portland],” Smith said.
Smith prefers Kosuke Kimura as his first-choice right back, and both Moor and Wynne are equally capable of playing in that position. He may also look at another left back to challenge Anthony Wallace.
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