COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The 2020 Colorado Rapids season is over. The club made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. In his first full season as head coach, Robin Fraser got the club to take great strides towards being a competitive team in MLS. They have a few key choices to make this offseason, including the future of goalkeeper William Yarbrough.
William Yarbrough: “I Would Love to Stay” With Colorado Rapids
Yarbrough joined the Rapids on a one-year loan with the option to buy from Club León of Liga MX. While the MLSPA has not released for 2020, it is believed through club sources that Yarbrough is a budget player (no TAM, not a DP) for this year, even with a potential loan fee.
The 31-year-old was given the chance to start at the MLS is Back tournament after Clint Irwin was injured in the first game. He settled in at the club and in Denver after that. He played well as his communication and intensity organized an improved Rapids backline. He also made a handful of good saves, coming off his line at times.
“I’m more than happy. The team has been great since day one. It’s a great group of guys, tight locker room, good coaching staff. It’s a club where you feel like you’re at home from Day 1,” Yarbrough told Last Word on Sports.
Yarbrough would go on to start 14 of the final 15 games of the regular season and Colorado’s playoff loss at Minnesota United.
When asked to compare the two leagues he has played in, Yarbrough highlighted MLS as having the better training and recovery facilities. With Colorado basically having four preseasons this year and several stretches of double game weeks, the goalkeeper was able to play so many games in part because of the infrastructure and staff at the club. That bodes well for a veteran keeper looking to play several more years.
Forces at Play:
Colorado is in the offseason and will have roster decisions for 2021 to make over the coming weeks. León finished top of the table in the 2020 Apertura. They are currently in the semifinals of the playoff against Chivas.
Rodolfo Cota took the starting goalkeeper position from Yarbrough when he signed in 2018. He’s started all but one Apertura match for Club León. Yarbrough is probably going to backup Cota if he returns to León.
While Rapids Head Coach Robin Fraser trusts Irwin from their time at Toronto FC together, Yarbrough clearly won the job. He would be the incumbent starter going into next year. At worst, he’s got the upper hand going into preseason as the two compete for playing time.
What is the prearranged option to buy fee and is it reasonable to the Rapids Front Office? Does León look at how well he played this year and try to negotiate a higher price?
For what it’s worth, Transfer Markt lists his value at $880,000. The option to buy fee probably isn’t that high based on precedent with other goalkeepers moving to MLS. But I digress.
Has William Yarbrough Been Happy in Colorado?
Does Yarbrough even want to stay in MLS? Or will he try to move to another Mexican club?
“I love the lifestyle here (in Denver). The biggest thing for me is the group of guys I work with. These contract decisions aren’t up to me at the end of the day. I would love to stay,” Yarbrough told Last Word back in September.
“Just seeing the quality of people is what stands out the most to me.”
Yarbrough is not the first player to highlight how welcoming and unified the Colorado locker room is. Given how turbulent this year has been, testing the open market could be very risky when you’ve been in a good situation and there’s an opportunity for you to commit your future to that situation.
If he indeed was a budget player this year, then a new contract for 2021 shouldn’t break the bank. Colorado already have most of the core locked up for next year. There aren’t several positions of need that will consume the limited war chest funds from KSE. If the fee is reasonable and doable, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Given the financial state of the game, León might just be happy to get a backup keeper off their books and collect some money in the process.
I think Yarbrough returns as a Burgundy Boy next year. He’s not needed at León and going ahead with the deal would be the easiest resolution for their technical staff. Yarbrough clearly would be happy to come back.
It comes down to Fraser and the Rapids FO. Do they want competition at the goalkeeper position? Is Yarbrough rated as comparable or better than Irwin? The answer to both is probably yes.