While Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo prepare to clash in the 2011 MLS Cup Final, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Colorado Rapids is the future of its current head coach, Gary Smith. The English manager started coaching professional teams as an assistant manager in 2003, and had prior stints in his native England at Wimbledon, Wycombe Wanderers, and Watford. He eventually came across the pond to the United States to be an assistant with the Colorado Rapids in 2008.
Gary Smith has been the head coach for the Rapids since the latter stages of the 2008 campaign after Fernando Clavijo was sacked and has posted a 39-31-35 record to date. His resumé also includes a dramatic victory in the 2010 MLS Cup Championship where the Rapids defeated FC Dallas 2-1 to claim the first major trophy in Colorado's history.
Smith's contract expires on December 31 and there have been conflicting reports about his future with the club. A recent story from goal.com stated that Smith was set to reject a new contract from Colorado and consider other options either in England, or clubs within MLS including New England Revolution or New York Red Bulls. The article speculated that Portsmouth FC, currently in second tier of English football, are monitoring the situation around Gary Smith and his potential availability.
Reports in England from the BBC were quick to list potential managers to take over at Portsmouth, and Gary Smith failed to make any of those reports. However, Smith has fallen out with Rapids club hierarchy, most notably Technical Director Paul Bravo. After losing 4-0 on aggregate in the Conference semifinals to Sporting Kansas City over two legs, Smith stated that he wanted to continue working with the team that he has built over the past three seasons. He also mentioned that his relationships with club hierarchy, most notably Paul Bravo, needs to improve.
Gary Smith has been successful with the Rapids, especially given the fact that the club has one of the lowest transfer budgets within MLS. The club has yet to sign a Designated Player, despite new rules that make it financially easier for small-market MLS clubs to sign big-name foreigners or top-level domestic talent. Colorado won the MLS Cup in 2010, but injuries and a severe lack of depth doomed the Rocky Mountain club down the stretch in the current campaign. The Rapids also had an embarrassing exit from the group stages of the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League.