Rapids to name Smith head coach

[MLS] The Colorado Rapids scheduled a press conference Tuesday to name their new head coach, which to the surprise of no one is interim head coach Gary Smith, who moved up from his position as assistant coach when Fernando Clavijo resigned in late August.

Smith had been hired by managing director Jeff Plush in February following a long career as a reserve coach and assistant coach in the lower divisions of the English League. He will be assisted by Steve Guppy, who played for several English teams as well as D.C. United prior to joining the USL-1 Rochester Rhinos earlier this year as player/assistant coach.

The Rhinos announced last week Guppy had left the team to join Smith, but no public notice had emanated from the Rapids' offices until they scheduled the Tuesday press conference.

After taking over from Clavijo as head coach, Smith and the Rapids compiled a 4-4-2 record as Colorado pushed for a playoff spot, but the quest fell just short when Real Salt Lake pulled out a 1-0 last-minute victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the season's final game.

By winning, RSL landed the third and final guaranteed Western Conference slot, Colorado finished in fourth place with a record of 11-14-5 and 38 points. The Rapids also finished fourth last year at 9-13-8 (35 points).

Smith and Guppy have about two weeks to prepare for the Nov. 26 MLS expansion draft, for which it can protect 11 senior players and can lose a maximum of one. Their real work is deciding which players to waive and which options to pick up, if any, as well as what sort of offer to tender for Pablo Mastroeni, whose contract is due to expire. Those notifications are due in the league office by the end of November.

Plush has also been conducting a search for a technical director and according to a source has discussed the position with at least two current MLS assistant coaches. The Rapids currently employ Brian Crookham as youth academy director of coaching.

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