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Bravo wins, Smith leaves

November 7, 2011 | 10:49 pm 1
By Shaun Schafer

Gary Smith, who led the Colorado Rapids to an improbable championship in 2010, was shown the door on Monday.

The coach, who had agreed to a new contract, and the team announced a parting of the ways on Monday afternoon. The departure came the same day that Rapids players cleared out their lockers following a 4-0 aggregate loss to Kansas City in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Late in the season, Smith indicated that there was a rift between himself and technical director Paul Bravo. Smith indicated at the time that problems there were causing the team to miss opportunities.

The rift seem to add fuel to speculation that might leave for a position with Portsmouth in England or at some other club with a larger budget and underperforming side.

The speculation did not, however, derail the Rapids from making the 2011 playoffs and defeating the Columbus Crew 1-0 in a Wild Card match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

Rumors, however, proved true when managing partner Jeff Plush announced Smith would be leaving. The team will now begin the search for its sixth coach in 16 years.

Bizarre: Evidently, 39 wins marks the point at which a Rapids coach leaves. Smith’s two immediate predecessors, Fernando Clavijo and Tim Harkinson, each won 39 matches while at the helm.

Smith’s regular season MLS record with the Rapids was 39-31-35.

Continuity: Since joining as an assistant coach in 2008 and taking over two-thirds of the way through that season, Smith has added consistency as he milked the most out of his team’s talent.

With his departure, the Rapids are left with a low payroll, an aging midfield, and a superstar — Conor Casey — returning from surgery for 2012. Not exactly the ideal spot for any manager coming aboard.

CSN’s View: This was a loss for the Rapids. Smith produced a winner without spending big. He was a stable presence on the sideline and always supported his lads. For a team that goes through coaches every few seasons, Smith will be a tough one to replace.

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