With the end of the Colorado Rapids season, it is time to take a look back at the season and see how things went right, wrong, and completely sideways. Over the next couple of months I will be taking a look back at the games that the Rapids won, loss and drew, but also will be looking at individual performances. In the first in that series we look at the goalkeeping position for our Burgundy Boys.
One of the more baffling things with this Rapids season has to be the management of the goalkeeping position. At the end of the 2013 season it was quite clear that the Rapids had found their keeper of the future in Clint Irwin. They were so convinced in his talent that the signed him to a longer term deal, and jettisoned two veterans in Matt Pickens and Steward Ceus.
It was clear: the Rapids were all in with Irwin.
They drafted a promising back-up in John Berner and signed a NASL veteran to back Irwin up in Joe Nasco. Things were looking quite good for the team in that area and it was lauded as a place of strength and depth.
In fact this depth was so good that there was not a real concern with Irwin was dealing with an injury to start the year and Berner was called in to start.
And then it all fell apart in the back end and Rapids goalkeepers started getting shelled. There is always a great debate when it comes to giving up goals: is it poor defense or poor goalkeeping? It many cases, the blame fell squarely on the defense that consistently left Irwin, Berner and Nasco on an island. But how did the three lads rate this year:
Here is a look at their statistics:
GP: Games Played, GS: Games Started, GAA: Goals Against Average, W: Wins, L: Losses, T: Ties, CS: Clean Sheets
Clint Irwin 6
Irwin seemed to be the one blamed for the terrible defense this year and was benched for a period in favor of Nasco and Berner. It could be argued that the coaching staff was blaming Irwin for the goal leakage or it could be that the coaching staff was giving him time off to help him gain his confidence back. But the bottom line is that Irwin kept the Rapids in games when they were not playing well.
Top Moment: April 5 at Vancouver Whitecaps
Irwin made six saves in the match and was the reason that the Rapids won that match. Yes, I know that Jose Mari had two wonder strikes in the game, but without Irwin standing on his head (sorry for the hockey term) the Rapids do not come away with a shock three points.
Not So Top Moment: September 5 at Los Angeles Galaxy
This game will be forever be remembered for the quickest Red Card in Major League Soccer history and Irwin having to come on in the first minute for an ejected Nasco. Irwin proceeded to give up six goals for a team that looked like they had given up.
John Berner 5
The rookie was called upon early and probably got more games and minutes than he thought he would when he was drafted in January. He played 5 total games and overall did a decent job. He did have a tendency to get overwhelmed and he showed that he was a rookie at times, specifically in matches where the Rapids should have come away with more points that they received.
Top Moment: First Start At Red Bull Arena
Not many players can say their first start of the year is at Red Bull Arena and the first goal they give up is against Thierry Henry. But overall Berner played well and gave confidence that the keeping position was in good hands.
Not So Top Moment: September 13 vs Portland Timbers
The goal that Berner gave up in the first half of that match was pretty terrible and it is a save that Berner simply has to make. I know that it was a rocket by Diego Valeri, but Berner cannot let that shot, from that distance, go through his hands.
Joe Nasco 4
The former deputy sheriff made four total appearances and brought a needed tenacity and passion to the goalkeeping position that may have been lacking as the wheels started to fall off the Rapids bus. But unfortunately for Nasco he will be remembered for a terrible Red Card and a horrific start against Real Salt Lake.
Top Moment: Starting At Seattle
August 30 was a great game for Nasco. He made several top class saves and brought a level of calm to the Rapids that helped them play better after a disastrous loss in the previous game against Los Angeles.
Not So Top Moment: That Red Card
In a moment of madness, Nasco lost his head on National Television and was ejected after 34 seconds against the Galaxy and it just destroyed the Rapids. Not only did they go down a man, they lost one of their more creative players in Dillon Serna (who was subbed off for Irwin). Nasco cannot do that as a professional as his actions hurt his team in that match.