Colorado Rapids managing director Jeff Plush confirmed Gary Smith as the sixth head coach in Rapids history at a press conference held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park today.
“Over the course of this past year, we have asked Gary to take on many new and difficult challenges within our club,” Plush said. “His leadership and coaching, as well as the team’s response to him on the pitch, were all the proof we needed as an organization to let us know that Gary was the right choice to lead our club moving forward.”
Smith assumes the head coach position having served as the Rapids’ interim head coach during the club’s final 11 matches of the 2008 regular season. Within that time period, Colorado tied for the fourth most points earned (17) in Major League Soccer and worked their way back into the playoff chase only to have their postseason plans dashed in the final minute of a 1-1 season finale draw with Real Salt Lake.
Smith’s record of 5-4-2 included a month of undefeated play in September and three road victories. By comparison, the Rapids had only one road win in nine matches before Smith’s arrival.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the Rapids organization have extended to me over the past season and for the prospect of managing this club next season and beyond,” Smith added. “I truly believe in the players that we have and our abilities to focus our efforts to reach what we all know this group is capable of achieving.”
Originally joining the Rapids organization in February 2008, Smith brought with him 10 years of experience as a professional player and full-time coach in the English FA. As a professional player, he spent four years with Fulham, two years with Barnet F.C., and one year with Colchester United.
A UEFA “A” badge holder, he began his coaching career with Wimbledon F.C. as a senior level coach. In 2004, he became the assistant first team coach for the Wycombe Wanderers. Following the resignation of Wycombe head coach Tony Adams, Smith filled the role as interim head coach and led the club to a 4-0 record under his leadership. Smith moved to the position of reserve team coach for Watford F.C. in 2005. During his first season with the club, the first team was promoted to the Premiership. Throughout 2007, Smith also served as a scout for the Rapids’ partner club Arsenal F.C. in Spain.