MLS Moves: Big shakeup as Bravo leaves Rapids

On paper, this change is baffling.

Colorado won a team-record 15 games last year yet it announced Friday that technical director and vice president of soccer operations Paul Bravo is leaving. No explanation has been released, though a three-year extension to his contract signed in 2014 may have expired.

“Paul has been a valuable member of the Colorado Rapids organization since the day he arrived as a player, as an assistant coach and as the club’s technical director,” Rapids president Tim Hinchey said in a statement. “He and our technical staff re-established a winning tradition. Paul leaves us with our respect and appreciation for his dedication and commitment to the club as well as the entire soccer community in Colorado. On behalf of the club, I wish Paul the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Bravo, 48, a Rapids player from 1997 to 2001, rejoined the team as technical director in 2009 after working for several teams as an assistant coach and as director of soccer for the Galaxy. Colorado won its only league title in 2010 by beating FC Dallas, 2-1, in extra time in the MLS Cup final. That team was captained by Pablo Mastroeni, hired by Bravo three years ago as its head coach.

When he signed the extension in 2014 he was promoted to VP of soccer operations, and in 2015 the team hired Claudio Lopez as director of soccer and Padraig Smith as sporting director. They could take on Bravo’s responsibilities or the team could hire a replacement.

After winning just 17 games in combined in 2014 and 2015 under Mastroeni, last year Colorado set a team record by finishing second in the Western Conference at 15-6-13. In the playoffs it eliminated the Galaxy on penalty kicks in the conference semifinals after the teams tied, 1-1, on aggregate, then lost to eventual champion Seattle over two legs, 3-1.

During his tenure the Rapids’ record was 91-96-77 and reached the playoffs four times in eight seasons.

As a player, Bravo ended his career in Colorado by playing 135 games, scoring 39 goals, and registering 22 assists from 1997 to 2001. The Rapids reached their first MLS Cup final in Bravo’s first season and lost to D.C. United, 2-1. He earned the last of his four U.S. caps in 1999.

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