As we do every year, through the month of December we'll be doing ratings and reviews of every player who played even a slightly significant amount of minutes for the Colorado Rapids in 2013. We'll start from the goalkeepers and move our way up to the forwards. Today, we'll get things started right with Clint Irwin.
Name: Clint Irwin
Appearances: 32 (2873 minutes)
Stats: 10 shutouts, 14 wins
Of all the wonderful surprises that we got in 2013, I think Clint Irwin's rise to fame was the most surprising. Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers were fantastic, but we've seen rookies immediately step into MLS teams and succeed plenty of times before. Chris Klute's transformation into a fantastic left back was a nice surprise, but he had gotten a bit of hype from one Eric Wynalda and we had seen him play at least one really good performance at the end of 2012.
Irwin though? He wasn't even our first choice for the third 'keeper spot in preseason. Nevertheless, he ended up getting the job, and we weren't expecting to get much out of it. Matt Pickens was the starter, and was expected to be for as long as he remained in Colorado. A hilarious gaffe from Steward Ceus and an unfortunate injury to Matt Pickens put Clint in the driver's seat, and a solid performance against Real Salt Lake in relief duty gave him a foot in the door for the job.
10 shutouts and 14 wins later, he proved himself more than capable of keeping the job and keeping Matt Pickens, he of a salary far higher than Irwin, on the bench. There are still some holes in Irwin's game, as you would expect from a young keeper. Similar to Pickens, he's got a few positional issues that make some saves more difficult than they might need to be. He also is occasionally a bit tentative with his movement off the line. But these are minor things and he has the potential to grow into one of the best 'keepers in Major League Soccer as he continues to grow into a starting role.
Besides, Donovan Ricketts has made an entire career out of making trivial saves into save of the week nominees by being way out of position but saving the shots anyway. Either way, I'm glad Irwin's our keeper.
PLAYER RATING: 7.5
.GIF TO SUM UP HIS SEASON:
In this situation Irwin is, of course, Jose Fernandez. (He couldn't be Tulo because he wasn't injured from late May until September.)