The Colorado Rapids has moved to bolster its backroom staff ahead of the 2015 season, with the news that former striker Claudio López has agreed to the role of Director of Soccer.
López, 40, scored more than 150 goals during an 18-year playing career with some of Europe and South and Central America’s biggest clubs, including Lazio, Valencia, Club América and Racing Club. He also featured at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups for Argentina, for whom he represented on more than 50 occasions.
"I talked this move over with my family and friends, and decided that - because we felt very well during our stay in Colorado - we would be very happy to come back to Denver and try to help the Rapids,' Lopez said.
"What I can do is support Pablo, and support the guys, and try to push the players to do better things in the field. I can help to change a few things, also, which may help to have a better season next year."
This role marks a return to the club at which he ended his playing career. He spent the 2010 season with the Rapids, at the end of which the club’s current head coach Pablo Mastroeni lifted the MLS Cup. In all, López made 11 regular season appearances for the Rapids.
He also featured in the second leg of the 2010 MLS Playoff semifinal, against Columbus Crew, appearing as a substitute as the tie approached overtime. His experienced, cool head was vital as the contest went to a penalty shoot-out. López scored the penultimate spot-kick as the Rapids went through.
"He's played at the highest level, for both his country and some great clubs across the world, so brings a lot of great experience" said Rapids head coach, Pablo Mastroeni. "The other angle is the offensive part of it. He's a great identifier of talent and, in that role, can help continue to build this good group of attacking players that we have.
"On the field, he's going to be able to work specifically with players that we feel can use that one-on-one type of work, with a guy who can specialize in the finishing aspect of the game."
During his playing career, Lopez was a member of the Valencia side beaten in the final of the UEFA Champions League by Real Madrid in 2000. The Madrid team contained another former Rapids player, Aitor Karanka. The transfer fee which then took him from Valencia to Lazio that same year was in the region of $44m.
López will work closely with Rapids’ VP of Soccer Operations, Paul Bravo, but will also assist Mastroeni and his current coaching staff of Steve Cooke and Chris Sharpe.
He is due to start on January 1, and joins Sporting Director Pádraig Smith as another key offseason addition.