As the Burgundy Boys settle into their off-season training plan before departing for two months, Rapids fans have a chance to start looking forward to 2014. Despite how solid of a season it was for the Rapids, there are a few questions that will need to be answered as we head into the quiet winter months.
When I look back at the 2013 season one of the bright and shining spots was the emergence of Clint Irwin. There were many young players that had fantastic debut seasons for the Rapids, but none was more of a surprise then the play of a third string goalkeeper who started training camp on trial, just hoping to make the team. After coming on for an injured Matt Pickens on March 16, Irwin never relinquished the job and has made the 2012 team MVP (Pickens) expendable. Pickens only saw the field one more time in 2013, a friendly defeat in Albuquerque.
This all leads to a thorny question: what do you do with Pickens? Conventional wisdom is that he gets traded to another team in the next couple of months. He has earned the right to start in Major League Soccer, and it is unfortunate that it will not be in a Colorado kit. (I guess the possibility exists that Pickens will want to remain in Colorado as a back-up, but not likely). At his salary ($212,933.33 guaranteed) versus Irwin at ($35,125 guaranteed), it makes it difficult to pay your back-up six times more than your starter.
So if Pickens is gone, that leaves just two goalkeepers on the roster going into the 2014. With Clint Irwin as the starter you are left with Steward Ceus as the #2. Ceus certainly did not have a good 2013, and remember he was the starter in the first game of the season, a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. As mentioned by Chris in his March 4 article, "The Frustration That Is Steward Ceus," Ceus has the potential to be good, but seemed to completely lose his edge after the Dallas game. And let's us not forget his red card against Orlando City in the US Open Cup.
Bottom line: the Rapids are going to need to be in the market for one and probably two goalkeepers as the calendar turns to 2014. I would be concerned if the Rapids go into the new season with Ceus as the #2. Because as we saw with the 2013 Rapids, injuries do happen and the next man up needs to be ready at a moments notice.