Five Returning Veterans Will Provide Consistency, Leadership for Young Players -

The Colorado Rapids announced on Monday that they are set to return the vast majority of the team for next season – including five established veteran players who signed new contracts.

In its announcement, the club stated: Defenders Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour signed new one-year contracts with the club, while goalkeeper Clint Irwin, defender Danny Wilson and midfielder Collen Warner all signed new two-year deals.

For the Rapids, returning these established leaders was a top priority to begin the offseason.

Moor returns to the club after playing eight games, starting five, in 2020. He also scored the game-winning goal in the team’s home opener against Orlando. But what Moor brings to the team, specifically, goes far beyond what happens on the field.

“Our focus is on the development of young players. There’s no doubt about that. But young players cannot develop without great mentorship, without experienced, top-class pros to look up to and learn from,” Rapids Executive VP & GM Pádraig Smith said. “I don’t know if there’s anyone better in this league than Drew Moor when it comes to filling that description.”

Moor is among the most experienced players in the league. He currently sits at fifth all-time in games played and fourth in minutes played.

“He’s played at the very highest level, he’s represented his country, and he’s done it all in a way that has allowed him to have a long career,” Smith said. “There’s a lot to be said about that.”

Next year will mark Moor’s ninth season with the club, the most of any active player on the team.

Another defender on a one-year deal is Beitashour. He previously signed with the club in September, and his presence in the locker room was something that made an immediate impact.

“[Beitashour] is a real leader. There’s no two ways about that,” Smith said.

While he didn't feature in the final two months of the season, Smith expects the 11-year veteran to be someone who can make an impact in the future.

“His ability to cover and play both full back positions is a very valuable asset in this league right now,” Smith explained. “To be able to do it at such a high level is a really wonderful thing to be able to add to a roster.”

The Rapids will also return Irwin on a two-year contract. Next season will mark the goalkeeper’s third consecutive year and his sixth season overall for the team. He played in, and started, four games this year, including back-to-back wins to start the season.

“With [Irwin], we have someone that’s known this club for a long time, that we’ve known for a long time, and that we know, irrespective of if he’s starting on a given Saturday or backing up on that individual Saturday, he’s going to come to play with the same intensity and the same commitment to excellence that we strive for,” Smith said.

For the Rapids, having two starting-caliber goalkeepers is always a top priority.

“One of the things that you notice about goalkeepers is that they’re often off a little bit on their own,” Smith said. “They train a little bit on their own for large parts of training sessions, and it is critical that you have two top-class goalkeepers that can push each other and keep each other close. To be able to retain someone like Clint is just great for the group as a whole.”

Wilson will look to build upon his 2020 campaign next season. The defender played in, and started, 10 games for the team last year, including in the MLS Cup Playoff matchup against Minnesota.

His international experience, playing for the likes of Liverpool FC in England and Rangers FC in Scotland, brings an added level of experience to a young Rapids squad. He still is only 28 years old, but this next year will mark his 13th professional season.

“[Wilson] has done very well in 2020, and he’s one of the best ball-playing center backs in the league,” Smith said. “He’s a wonderful presence in the locker room, a good leader, a good guy to have in the group.”

Warner joined the team at the MLS is Back tournament, after signing in July, and played a number of key minutes this season. The Colorado native was happy to return to his home state and provided an additional option for the Rapids at a number of midfield positions.

“You talk about character, you talk about mentality, he comes to play every single day,” Smith said. “He keeps the quality of our training sessions at the highest level.”

Warner is in a bit of a difficult spot because he plays primarily behind team captain Jack Price, which can make minutes hard to find, but Warner has done well under pressure in a number of moments, featuring in seven games in 2020.

“Price has been our MVP for three consecutive seasons, but to be able to have someone like [Warner] step in when needed and help us not miss a beat, that is absolutely critical,” Smith said.

These signings mark the beginning of the offseason moves for the Rapids. Later this week, on Wednesday, December 16, the league’s free agency window will begin. Stay up to date on the upcoming key dates across the league here.