COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – He’s been playing soccer professionally for more than a decade and a half, but Kevin Doyle has yet to play a full season with the Colorado Rapids.
The Irishman is still adjusting to life in the United States and play in MLS, but the Rapids faithful have been quickly introduced to Doyle’s on-field exploits. He’s has had a tangible impact since joining the Rapids as a Designated Player last May, scoring five goals (four game winners) in 16 starts for Colorado last season.
Onlookers are familiar with his play, but there’s still much to learn about the man who’s been racking up goals for Colorado.
He's a family man
Some nudging from Rapids sporting director Padraig Smith and LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane played a part in Doyle’s recruitment to MLS, but he also had to ensure that Colorado was a right fit for his wife and children.
“I think it was just the enthusiasm,” Doyle said of the one factor that set Colorado apart. “I have two young kids and didn’t want to move them across the world. Everyone here was quite adamant. I knew I would love the place and my wife and kids would as well.”
Picking up where he left off
The Rapids have only played a handful of preseason games against a varying caliber of opponents, but fans should be hopeful for the early form that Doyle has shown in the attack this year.
The Rapids’ golden boot winner from 2015 has already scored four goals this preseason, including a hat trick in the Rapids’ 4-2 victory over South Korean side Seongnam FC.
“I’ve been reasonably fit and have had a few goals, which is nice in preseason,” Doyle said. “I want to get as many goals as I can if I’m fit. I want to feel well and play well so plenty of goals should come.”
The elder Rapid
At age 32, Doyle is no spring chicken. But last season, he wasn’t even the oldest player on a 2015 Rapids roster which included 10 players age 30 or older. In fact, four players outranked Doyle in age, including: Vicente Sanchez (36), Marcelo Sarvas (34) and Maynor Figueroa (32, just months older than Doyle).
Following this offseason’s roster turnover, which included the recent trade of Sarvas to D.C. United, Doyle is now the Rapids’ elder statesman.
“I’m now the oldest player in this squad, so that hurts a little,” he joked. “I can’t believe they got rid of Marcelo, he saved me by a few years there.”
Doyle may be the old hand in the Rapids’ locker room, but with age comes wisdom and an ability to lead. The 32-year-old is taking the challenge of added responsibility head on.
“I’ve made a conscientious effort to try to talk more this season,” Doyle said. “As you’re older, you feel able to talk more and [leadership] comes naturally.”
Countrymen and friends
Sean St. Ledger and Doyle are like two peas in a pod.
Doyle played a big role in St. Ledger’s adjustment to a new team last season when he joined Colorado late last season; an experience St. Ledger compared to the “first day of school.” The Irish connection showed, with the duo linking up for a game-winning goal against Houston last August in the midst of a three-game winning streak.
The relationship between Doyle and St. Ledger isn’t strictly confined to the pitch. The pair’s off-field chemistry and antics were on full display when they made an attempt at some “unclassic commentary.”
The other “football”
To Doyle, “football” will always mean the game that most Americans know as soccer.
If you ask an average person on a Denver city street if they’re going to watch the football game on Sunday however, they’ll most likely think you’re referring to the NFL.
But when in Rome…
“Living in Denver, I don’t really have a choice but to be a [Denver Broncos] fan,” said Doyle. “I’ve been to a game and I really enjoyed it. The Super Bowl was good just because of seeing Sam Cronin and [Jared Watts] face. They’re obviously big [Carolina Panthers] fans, and I’ve never seen two people so devastated. Wattsy has to wear a Broncos jersey all week, so it’s good, friendly fun.”
He’s just here so he won’t get fined
With age comes temperance. Doyle has scored a lot of goals throughout his career, which has given him the opportunity to test out a lot of goal celebrations, many of which are improvised. Some have gone better than others.
He recalled one instance while playing for Wolverhampton where a goal celebration earned him more than he bargained for. During a 2009 fixture against Burnley, Doyle scored in the 50th minute. Following the goal, he removed his shirt in the frigid December air and was shown yellow for the action and garnered the wrath of manager Mick McCarthy.
“That was a freezing cold day, so that one was sort of a joke,” Doyle recalled. “I got booked and was close to getting suspension. The manager wasn’t happy and rightfully so.”
He was a big fan of...
More often than not, the players that Kevin Doyle grew up idolizing wore the green kits of his native Ireland, the biggest being Irish striker Niall Quinn.
But when the Boys in Green weren’t suiting, up Doyle saw red. On the club level, a young Doyle supported Manchester United, trying to emulate parts of his game after the likes of Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes and Andy Cole.
“There’s so many different players,” He recalled. “I tried to be like all of them.”
But after some time playing in the English Premier League himself, Doyle’s enthusiasm for the Red Devils has waned.
“After playing against them a few times, I dislike them now to be honest,” he laughed.
The Dillon Powers connection
Doyle and teammate Dillon Powers have worn the same kit for the same club at different points of their respective careers. But it’s not Colorado.
Aside from being Rapids teammates, both Doyle and Powers have spent time wearing the blue and white kit of English Championship side Reading FC.
Doyle spent four seasons with the club from 2005-09 and used that experience to advise Powers when the youngster trialed there this offseason. Powers enjoyed the experience, but Doyle is glad his teammate back in Colorado.
“It was unfortunate from his point of view that the manager left near the end of [the trial]. I think he did well there,” Doyle said. “But from a selfish point of view, I’m happy for him to be here.”
This Irishman doesn’t just drink Guinness
“As an athlete, I don’t ever drink beer,” Doyle said as a tongue-in-cheek response to what his favorite craft brew might be.
Given Doyle’s peak physical condition, the statement isn’t far from the truth. But if and when he does indulge, he said it's difficult to pick from the variety of brews Colorado has to offer.
“I actually don’t [have a favorite craft beer],” Doyle explained. “I try a different one every time I go for a beer.”
Marco Cummings covers the Rapids for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.