Colorado Rapids director of soccer Claudio ...
Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
Colorado Rapids director of soccer Claudio Lopez during Picture Day for the team at their headquarters in Commerce City on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Colorado Rapids director of soccer Claudio Lopez will not return for the 2018 season as part of a massive overhaul that will bring in three new front-office hires, up to 11 new players and a new head coach.

Lopez, who joined the club’s front office in December 2014, had his contract expire and the Rapids said they decided not to bring him back.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to be an offseason overhaul in here,” Rapids interim general manager Padraig Smith told The Denver Post on Tuesday. “Both on the field and off the field.”

Smith said the Rapids plan to restructure their front office with the hire of a new assistant general manager, director of player personnel and a head of sports science. He said the team hopes to fill the positions with outside hires by the start of preseason.

Colorado Rapids sporting director Pádraig Smith ...
Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
Colorado Rapids sporting director Pádraig Smith during Picture Day for the team at their headquarters in Commerce City on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Meanwhile, Smith said the club is closing in on its new head coach, who the Rapids wanted to have in place by the beginning of November.

“We’ve identified the person that we want to take us forward,” Smith said. “And I think people can expect an announcement in the coming weeks.”

Smith said the search is “definitely at the final stages now,” after a global search that focused on finding someone who aligned with the club’s attack-minded philosophy. Smith said the new coach will have a plan and track record of executing that vision.

In recent weeks, the Rapids have been linked with New Zealand head coach Anthony Hudson in several reports, but Smith would not confirm whether Hudson was a candidate for the Rapids’ job. Hudson’s New Zealand team is facing Peru in a two-match playoff series for a spot in the World Cup, with matches Nov. 11 and 15.

Head Coach Anthony Hudson of New ...
Anthony Au-Yeung, Getty Images
Head Coach Anthony Hudson of New Zealand looks on prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between the New Zealand All Whites and Solomon Island at North Harbour Stadium on Sept. 1, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Asked what input a new coach would have on player acquisitions, Smith said that is why their exhaustive search was so important.

“When you identify a coach who shares the same philosophy and vision, then you obviously put yourself in a position where the players you’re identifying are absolutely in line with everyone’s thinking,” Smith said.

In the weeks since the season ended, Smith has had one-on-one conversations with all players on the roster and informed each one whether the club would pick up their options, but would not go into detail yet on which players would not return.

“I obviously want to speak to all the other MLS clubs as well to see if there’s a potential deals in place,” Smith said.

Asked whom he considered cornerstone players that the club will build around going forward, Smith mentioned only Tim Howard by name.

“I’m excited about what we’re trying to achieve this offseason,” Howard said in a statement released by the club. “There’s a huge amount of potential at this club and I know we’re all ready to get back to winning ways.”

Smith said the Rapids have identified a number of key additions they are targeting this offseason. In the short term, Smith said he’s looking for a left wing back and an attacking midfielder. He said those players should play with intensity, urgency and boldness.

“I think what we need is a little more creativity and a little more soccer IQ and guile in the attacking midfield position centrally,” Smith said.

Smith said the Rapids have two scouts in Europe watching games and narrowing the team’s search.

“I’ll be heading off to Europe as well to watch some of our targets in the coming weeks,” Smith said, adding that he may also head to South America to see some players the team is targeting.

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