Rapids sporting director Padraig Smith rips “out of shape” striker Shkelzen Gashi

“He came into camp out of shape, quite a bit out of shape, unfortunately. And that then ultimately led to these lingering injuries over the course of the year.”

Colorado Rapids Shkelzen Gashi runs past FC Dallas Carlos Gruezo as FC Dallas Michael Barrios watchs during the game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, July 23, 2016. Rapids took the lead in the first half, and lost the lead when DC Dallas scored in the second half and the game ended in a tie 1-1. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

jessica taves; denverite; colorado rapids; fc dallas; sports; soccer; colorado; denver;
Colorado Rapids Shkelzen Gashi runs past FC Dallas Carlos Gruezo as FC Dallas Michael Barrios watchs during the game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, July 23, 2016. Rapids took the lead in the first half, and lost the lead when DC Dallas scored in the second half and the game ended in a tie 1-1. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite) jessica taves; denverite; colorado rapids; fc dallas; sports; soccer; colorado; denver;
Shkelzen Gashi did not come into the 2017 season in shape, Rapids sporting director Padraig Smith said Wednesday. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

The Colorado Rapids wrapped up a nightmare season with a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday. After making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2016, Colorado stumbled through a 33-point season in 2017.

On Wednesday, Rapids sporting director Padraig Smith sounded off on the disappointing year in a candid interview with Altitude AM 950. The highlights included an update on the club’s coaching search as well as Smith ripping into Rapids star striker Shkelzen Gashi.

Smith said that Steve Cooke will not be the Rapids head coach in 2018. Cooke served as Colorado’s interim coach after Pablo Mastroeni was fired as head coach in August. Instead, the Rapids will look outside the organization for a new head coach.

“What I can tell you is we’re very close. We’re in the final stages,” Smith said. “… We’re incredibly thankful for Steve for what he’s done here.”

Smith added that Cooke will remain on staff.

Smith also criticized Gashi, who recorded just two goals and one assist in 17 games. Smith accused Gashi of coming into the 2017 season out of shape, which contributed to him missing so many games with injuries.

“To be honest, we’ve been very disappointed with the effort we got from Gashi this year,” Smith said. “I think if you look back at the last number of years going back to his time in Switzerland, he had back-to-back seasons of 19 goals and 21 goals (and was) player of the year in Switzerland.

“He comes to the Rapids in 2016, nine goals and four assists. And then obviously in the playoffs that wonder strike against L.A., which led to our famous victory on penalties which we all remember. We were all excited about the prospect of Gashi with a year under his belt in America coming and really performing at a higher level in 2017. 

“Unfortunately, he didn’t execute the offseason program we put in place for him. He came into camp out of shape, quite a bit out of shape, unfortunately. And that then ultimately led to these lingering injuries over the course of the year.”

Smith said he’s had a number of “frank discussions” with Gashi over the last few weeks about his performance. Smith said Gashi has “reiterated his desire to be here and turn that performance around.”

As you can tell, Smith didn’t hold much back. You can listen to his entire interview with Altitude below.

Subscribe to Denverite’s weekly sports newsletter here.

Christian Clark

Author: Christian Clark

Christian Clark covers sports. He's worked for outlets that include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Oklahoman, Columbia Missourian and Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine. He likes music and Mexican food. Lots and lots of Mexican food. Got questions? Tips? You can reach him at cclark@denverite.com.