With the Rapids players returning from the offseason to Colorado, one of the first priorities is picking up new gear from Equipment Manager Brandy Lay. For many of the new players to the team, as well as some veterans, this process involves deciding on a new jersey number.
Two returning Rapids took relatively high profile numbers, with Clint Irwin taking the vacant #1 shirt and Gabriel Torres selecting #10, which was worn in the last two seasons by Martín Rivero. Three newcomers also picked their new numbers, with Marc Burch taking #4, Charles Eloundou settling on #19, and Marlon Hairston going for the unconventional with #94.
Coming off a stellar first year in MLS, the decision for Irwin to take #1 was relatively simple.
“I’ve always worn #1 on the other teams I’ve been on, when I’ve been playing,” said Irwin. “When I was in Charlotte I was #25, but in college and my first professional year I was #1, and all through high school. It’s just what I felt comfortable with.”
“It’s a number that I wanted to earn,” Irwin continued. “It was available last year, but it didn’t feel right taking it then. I felt like I wanted to earn it.”
For Gabriel Torres, the number #10 shirt also carries a personal connection in addition to the soccer history.
“It’s an added responsibility to wear a number like this,” said Torres, who wore #30 last season. “But I’ve had it before with the national team and my old club in Venezuela, so it’s good, and I’m happy. When I was told that #10 was available, I took it, because I’ve had it before and I feel good with that number.”
Some of the Rapids new acquisitions also picked their numbers today, with Marc Burch taking #4, which he wore for five years in D.C. before taking #8 in Seattle in 2012 and 2013.
Charles Eloundou, meanwhile, chose #19, having been informed of the responsibility of wearing one of the numbers in the Rapids Gallery of Honor, with Chris Henderson having worn the number while with Colorado during his stints with the team in 1996-1998 and 2002-2005.
Rapids first round draft pick Marlon Hairston may have made the biggest splash, however, taking the #94.
“I went with #94 since that’s my birth year,” said Hairston. “I’ve worn #17, I’ve worn #10, but those were taken already when I came in, so I wanted to do something different.”
Asked if the high number brings with it some added attention, Hairston seemed prepared.
“Hopefully I’ll be ready for [the attention] when the time comes,” said the rookie. “First I’ve got to get some time on the field and hopefully I can impress in it.
He also didn’t rule out changing his number in the future, but was content for the moment.
“Kobe changed his number, LeBron changed his, so maybe later,” said Hairston. “But as of now, it’s a different look and it’s something that will stand out, so hopefully I can just keep this one for a little while.”
A pair of new Rapids players – Marvin Chavez and Grant Van De Casteele – have still yet to choose their new numbers, and other veterans may change as well during the preseason.