COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Long before the Colorado Rapids signed newly-arrived Designated Player Kevin Doyle, they had the luck of the Irish at their disposal.
When the Rapids hired fellow Irishman Padraig Smith as sporting director last November, the club found someone who could not only crunch numbers and oversee a months-long process of reshaping the roster, but also had a direct pipeline to acquiring Doyle.
“I’ve known Kevin and his agent Patrick Dolan dating back to my time in the [Football Association of Ireland] back in 2007, and then moving along to UEFA,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “Once we became aware that Kevin might be available, it was good that I had those connections and those links.”
Making use of connections has been par for the course for a Rapids technical staff that has racked up frequent-flyer miles in recent months. Smith has spent extensive time scouting Europe, and Rapids director of soccer Claudio Lopez has helped bring in several players from his native Argentina: Lucas Pittinari, Juan Ramirez and most recently, Luis Solignac.
“All of our Rolodexes are open,” Rapids team president Tim Hinchey said. “You can see what Claudio and Padraig have been doing over the past couple of weeks with the signings of Luis and Kevin.”
With the formalities of an introduction already out of the way, all it took was a phone call and a visit to start the process of recruiting Doyle to Colorado.
“Padraig was very insistent that I come over to have a look and meet everyone, so I did,” Doyle told reporters during Monday’s introductory press conference. “I thought that they’d really like me to come here and they’ve got the facilities to back it up. I thought: ‘Why not?’
That firsthand look at the Rapids’ setup and the Denver area in general seems to have made all the difference.
“It helped once we were able to get him over here,” Smith explained. “When I spoke to him he was able to trust me in terms of the project here and what we’re trying to do long-term. He talked to Pablo [Mastroeni], myself, Tim Hinchey and Paul Bravo and quickly he realized that it was something he wanted to do as well. It was a nice fit altogether.”
Smith’s recruitment process was aided by Doyle’s strike partner on the Irish national team, Robbie Keane. Conversations with the LA Galaxy forward further piqued Doyle’s interest in making the move Stateside.
- Find more Mile High Club news at ColoradoRapids.com
“I was always intrigued by MLS. I was always quizzing Robbie on it,” Doyle said. “Just in the last season, it’s been shown on the TV networks in the UK. It feels like a good time to be getting here.”
For Smith, It was an easy sell.
“[Doyle] had a little more exposure to MLS and saw how exciting it was. It’s an exciting league, it’s an emerging league, and it’s a league that’s growing. It’s not difficult to sell him on the stadium, the team and the fact that games are being shown back in England,” he said.
And while the Rapids’ third-ever DP signing may be Smith’s biggest catch thus far, it probably won’t be his last.
“A lot of people have been asking me to keep my eyes and ears open for potential roles for them in the future,” he said. “MLS is something that a lot of the people in Europe are interested in.”