The USL released their finalists for 2018 awards, and for the most part, the news went past Switchbacks FC fans without a second glance. For all intents and purposes, the 2018 season ended months ago, and with the news of the partnership with the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club, all eyes are firmly ahead for 2019. But lost in the excitement for the future, is an indicator from the past. An indicator by the name of Joe Greenspan, a finalist for USL Defensive Player of the Year.
Greenspan was drafted by the Rapids in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He spent his college career with the Naval Academy, making 78 appearances and 18 goals for the Midshipman. After fulfilling his commitment to Uncle Sam, he joined the Rapids, and made his first pro appearance in the 2015 Open Cup match against the Switchbacks. In the next two years, he struggled to crack the lineup of the Rapids, making only 4 appearances.
Hoping to get him more minutes and experience, the Rapids loaned him to the Switchbacks. The Switchbacks were hoping he could fill a need vacated by injuries, but it was not to be. During his time with the Switchbacks, he had a hard time finding a place within the team, often seen being belligerent with his teammates on the field. His time ended quickly, with the only notable stat in his four appearances was a red card and one-game suspension. He was sent back to the Rapids, who loaned him back out to their 2016 affiliate, the Charlotte Independence. Again he struggled for playtime, only making seven appearances. The Rapids, deciding it was time to cut bait, traded him to the expansion Minnesota United.
Minnesota kicked the tires on Greenspan, giving him three appearances before loaning him out to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the end of the season. After the end of the 2017 season, he was cut by Minnesota, and he signed on full-time with the Riverhounds.
It was there in Pittsburgh that Greenspan came into his own, anchoring one of the best defenses in the league, recording a league-high 17 shutouts and a tackle success rate of 81.3%.
While a number of players have moved between the Switchbacks and the Rapids since 2015, Greenspan stands out as one that got away, a notable misstep between the two franchises that are now joined at the hip. For Switchbacks fans, its a cautious reminder that when it comes to partnering with (and potentially relying on) the Rapids, all that glitters is not gold.