As we learn more and more about the saga that was Gary Smith's coaching tenure with the Colorado Rapids, it's becoming increasingly clear that there are really no good guys. The Rapids, by just about all indications, were being cheap in any number of ways, and waiting until six months after their coach won the franchise's first-ever MLS Cup to open negotiations on a new deal was just the most obvious.
But Smith hardly casts himself as a very sympathetic figure. Apparently, he's been complaining for quite some time about the way the team is run. Just a month or so ago, he went public with his displeasure with technical director Paul Bravo, saying one of them was going to have to go. Now, it comes out that he went public only after he had agreed to financial terms with the Rapids on an extension. That is not how an effective leader should behave.
In the end, it looks like the Rapids agreed. At some point between apparently agreeing to financial terms and actually agreeing on a finished contract, the Rapids realized that Smith just wasn't worth keeping around.
There have been some who have painted this whole saga as the Rapids punishing their coach for a disappointing MLS Cup title defense. That hardly seems to be the case. While the Rapids are no one's idea of a model organization, they at least understood that you can't have your coach running around badmouthing his bosses.
For their part, the Rapids say Smith's criticisms of Bravo were not why they decided to essentially fire the most successful coach in their history. They said it was more about the direction Smith was taking the team, and that the two sides just didn't see eye-to-eye.
Admittedly, I have never really liked Smith. He always seemed more interested in making excuses than finding solutions. He'd have us all believe that his team winning the MLS Cup was some kind of magical Cinderella story, rather than just the latest example of a the crapshoot nature of the MLS playoffs. He tried to convince us that not travelling with his team for a CONCACAF Champions League match was somehow a positive move. He explains that he only went public out of frustration, as if that changes anything.
The Rapids may be cheap. They may be poorly run. They may have treated Smith poorly. But, in this case at least, you really can't blame them.