COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — One month ago, 23-year-old Clint Irwin was unsigned, scratching and clawing for an opportunity just to win the Colorado Rapids’ third goalkeeper spot.
Today, Irwin is the Rapids’ starting goalkeeper – but perhaps not for long.
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja indicated on Tuesday afternoon that Irwin will be the team’s starting goalie with regular starter Matt Pickens out 3-4 months with a broken left arm, but Pareja also said the team is pursuing another ‘keeper to compete for the starting spot as well.
“We are planning to find another goalkeeper term, yes, for short-term,” Pareja told reporters on Tuesday. “But we are kind of factoring in all these things, how long Matt is going to take, who is available. Matt is here. And hopefully in three months, four months, we’ll have him back.”
Colorado lost the veteran Pickens to a broken forearm in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake when RSL defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe crashed into the 30-year-old Pickens while going up for a corner kick.
Among the names the Rapids could be pursuing could include 416-game MLS veteran and free agent Kevin Hartman, who Pareja said “could” be one of the team’s targets. The two have a little bit of history, as Pareja was an assistant coach at FC Dallas in 2010 and 2011 while Hartman was Dallas’ primary goalkeeper.
“I think we have a pool of options, and Kevin could be one of those,” Pareja said.
But in the meantime, Irwin, who impressed with several sharp saves in Saturday’s draw, appears to be Pareja’s guy.
“I think it’s always a week-to-week thing, but I’m very pleased with the performance that [Irwin] had [on Saturday], and the personality that he showed at the game,” Pareja said. “That gave us a lot of good information on what is going to come next and dealing with the fact that Matt is going to be out.”
And as for Irwin himself? The North Carolina native and Elon College (N.C.) graduate is hopeful he showed enough last Saturday to earn another start between the posts when Colorado take on the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live).
“Everybody wants to play,” Irwin said on Tuesday. “I want to play. Every goalkeeper wants to play. I’m prepared and I’ll prepare myself the same way and work just as hard.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.