The Colorado Rapids’ improbable run to the top has some eating crow, but who could blame their earl-season doubters?
The Rapids finished the 2015 season with 37 points. Nearly a year later, Colorado enter Saturday’s bout against the Houston Dynamo (7:15 p.m. CT; TICKETS) sitting on 51 points and in contention for the Supporters' Shield.
One year. That’s how fast things can change for a team in MLS, and that gives Houston – currently last in the Western Conference – a reason for optmism. Dynamo general manager/VP Matt Jordan called it, “the beauty of MLS,” when describing the Rapids' quick rise from bottom dwellers to the cream of the crop.
“That’s really the foundation of MLS,” Jordan said. “In a single entity league with a lot of parity that’s what makes MLS unique to any league in the world.”
Much like the Rapids with head coach Pablo Mastroeni, the Dynamo have a former decorated club player at the helm — albeit in an interim capacity.
Wade Barrett — who was named interim head coach after Owen Coyle parted ways in late May — captained Houston to back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007. He then joined former Houston coach Dominic Kinnear as an assistant coach but stayed when Kinnear left for San Jose.
Barrett is ingrained in Dynamo history just as Mastroeni is in that of the Rapids. Could Houston pull off a similar move and give Barrett the coaching reins?
“Our position remains the same,” Jordan said, figuratively holding his cards close to his chest. “We’re evaluating everything and that’s our focus right now.”
The next full-time Dynamo coach will be the third in franchise history and second under Jordan’s reign. The first, Coyle, plied his trade in Europe before taking over in Houston on December 2014, a month after Jordan was appointed general manager/VP.
The Scottish coach did little to deter the commonly-held notion that that foreign coaches struggle in MLS. In 46 games, Coyle posted a 14-11-21 record.
“I think it’s fair to say our focus will be within North America,” Jordan said when asked how wide a net will be cast during the coaching search. “What’s important is our position hasn’t changed and it’s important to finish the season strong and be supportive of the staff and the work that they and the players are doing.”
Aside from hiring a full-time coach, Jordan will have to retool a roster that failed to make the playoffs for third consecutive year.
Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamos’ USL affiliate, could play a part in that with Jordan calling it a "positive" project for the franchise.
“That’s what’s ideal about that project is it just helps you to get younger players in your pipeline,” Jordan said. “And to hopefully build a succession plan.”
While Jordan was tight-lipped on the next Houston coach, he did reveal that the team wants to add a difference-making player in the off-season.
“It’s got to be the right fit and the timing has got to be right,” Jordan said. “That’s our focus.”