Remember Zac MacMath, Rapids fans? He was the starting goalkeeper for our team when some guy named Tim Howard showed up to supplant him between the sticks. He was the one who, aside from a couple of miscues, anchored the best defense in the MLS before Howard came along.
Remember how, with him in goal, the Rapids were 9-3-5 (W-L-T). He only gave up 13 goals in 17 games, and saved 39 shots. Oh yeah, and he had six shutouts.
Remember that, even with these statistics, once the announcement came for the arrival of Tim Howard, he knew he would never compete for the starting job. Remember how he wanted out of Colorado (and who could blame him?). Remember how the Rapids’ Front Office opted to keep him on-board?
By now, all of Burgundy Nation realizes that Tim Howard will likely miss the rest of the Rapids playoff run due to his injury against El Tri on Friday in Columbus (Nov. 11). The range of reactions were from bad to worse. The Rapids have an away and home match against Seattle to go after the MLS Cup on Saturday, December 10!
But then I remembered our former starter turned back-up. I remember that, given his form, the only one who could replace him between the sticks was someone of the caliber of Tim Howard.
Or, well, Tim Howard.
- There is no way on God’s green earth that the Rapids would be where they are without Zac MacMath and his play the first sixteen games. (See above.)
- This is the ideal showcase for Zac MacMath’s audition for the next step in his career. The Rapids may well keep MacMath. But he’s a 25-year old who played such a critical role in the turnaround of our Rapids that he will be in demand and provide excellent leverage to improve areas of our team to keep us competitive for years to come. Sure, Howard will be 38 next year. Sure, he keeps himself in excellent condition (usually). MacMath could serve as some serious insurance for the aging Howard. And the Rapids FO needs to think about the Rapids. MacMath, should he play lights out against a strong Seattle team, and then against either a Toronto FC team (please, God, let it be them) or Montreal Impact team, he could develop his career elsewhere, while the Rapids get some pieces to start a possible dynasty.
- Not directly related to MacMath, but aren’t you glad for a break between the conference semifinals and the finals? The Rapids’ defense will be rested and will be in the best place to stop that surging Seattle squad. And, related to MacMath, he’ll be practicing, taking all the first team reps.
I wrote all this to say, Rapids fans, that we should not forget the caliber of play MacMath brings to this playoff run. Should we worry about rust? Sure, but after he makes that first save, he’ll be back in the zone and ready to keep things steady. He may not have Howard’s natural leadership and experience, but he does know this team as he did for the first half of the season.
What a great situation to be in, considering the circumstances!