Colorado Rapids hire UEFA’s Padraig Smith as sporting director

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After a season of struggle on the pitch, the Colorado Rapids will have some extra help off it next season.

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On Thursday the Major League Soccer franchise announced that Padraig Smith will be joining the team as their new sporting director. Smith will join Colorado from UEFA, where he has been a key component of their Financial Analysis Group. The Irishman has also held roles with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and will play a prominent role for Colorado moving forward.

The Rapids confirmed that Smith “will oversee team operations” and work with Paul Bravo, vice president of soccer operations and technical director, and head coach Pablo Mastroeni from January 1, 2015.

Here’s what the Smith had to say about his appointment.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UEFA,” said Smith. “However, I feel that this is the right opportunity for me to move on to another exciting and challenging chapter in my career. It is clear to everyone in European football that MLS is taking major strides towards its goal of becoming one of the top leagues in the world and I believe the Rapids are poised to play a leading role in that development. It’s a project I’m very much looking forward to playing a key role in.”

So, why the addition to the front office?

First of all, Smith seems to have plenty of experience dealing with the finances of some of Europe’s top clubs in his role with European soccer’s governing body. MLS’ financial landscape is slightly different, but in his role with the FAI he actually helped to put together a plan to help develop the League of Ireland from the grassroots upwards which included implementing a salary cap. So, some of the idiosyncrasies of MLS will not be new to him.

After a season to forget at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — the Rapids finish second from bottom in the Western conference in 2014 with 32 points and jut eight wins from 38 matches — Colorado needs all the help they can get to restructure the franchise and build a good base from top to bottom. Smith’s appointment from UEFA can certainly be seen as a coup.