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2022 Season Review: Clint Irwin

Irwin shipped two goals in his lone first team appearance in 2022 and concluded his second stint with the club.

Clint Irwin signs autographs for young Rapids fans.
John Babiak

This is part of a series of individual player reviews by Joseph Samelson. You can follow him on Twitter @jspsam and read his work elsewhere at josephsamelson.com.

Role: Backup Goalkeeper

Squad Status: Departed

Season in a Sentence: Irwin shipped two goals in his lone first team appearance in 2022 and concluded his second stint with the club after failing to earn a starting role across four seasons.

Grade: Incomplete

Clint Irwin’s second stint with the Colorado Rapids went much differently than his first. The 33-year-old was a regular between the posts for the Rapids after taking over the starting role from Matt Pickens in 2013, but the shot-stopper took a back seat in Colorado after spending three years in Ontario with Toronto FC.

Irwin filled-in for Howard in 11 league matches in 2019, and looked like the legendary keeper’s heir-apparent for 2020. That starting role never materialized. The Rapids sprung for William Yarbrough on loan, and the ex-León shot-stopper took the job shortly after the MLS Is Back tournament. Irwin remained the backup ever since, only making occasional league appearances to cover for injury or suspension. The Charlotte native finished the 2020 season with only four MLS starts to his name, and remained sidelined for all but one of the Rapids’ league matches in 2021.

The keeper did manage one first team appearance this year across 48 hours in the Rapids’ weather-delayed U.S. Open Cup road clash against Minnesota United. He made one save, but conceded once per day as Colorado fell 2-1.

The stars never aligned for the 33-year-old to the first team again during the regular season. Irwin didn’t travel with the team when Yarbrough sustained a concussion right before halftime during a June road match against the Portland Timbers. The backup had been nursing a groin injury of his own, and it was the young Rodriguez that took center stage when the need for a replacement arose.

2022 brought the advent of MLS Next Pro, but the Rapids primarily used those matches as an opportunity to give valuable playing time between the sticks to homegrown Abraham Rodriguez. Irwin did make three starts during the reserve team’s season, and finished the year with the best save percentage (72.7%) among all R2 keepers. Irwin conceded once in each of the three games, but the team still came away undefeated in regulation across the three matches. In the lone post-draw shootout he faced, he failed to make any stops as R2 penalty takers went zero-for-three from the spot against North Texas SC.

Looking Forward

The Rapids let Irwin’s contract expire at the end of 2022, and acknowledged their farewell to the keeper on social media during early November. The 33-year-old has since signed with Minnesota United. He surpassed Howard’s 100 appearances in net for Colorado during the 2020 season, and finished with the second-most appearances (105) at the position in club history—only trailing Pickens’ 116. Irwin’s also third in total wins recorded by a Rapids goalkeeper (35), though Yarbrough is hot on his tail (34)—the duo are both currently tied for second in total clean sheets for the club with 26.

Irwin’s departure leaves the club with only two goalkeepers on the first team roster. Given Rodriguez’s hot-and-cold form with Rapids 2, Colorado should probably be looking for another second-stringer with upside to challenge Yarbrough as the starter enters his mid-30s.

Stats via MLS/MLS Next Pro.