Two former Charlotte players made their marks recently in Major League Soccer.
Goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who played at Charlotte Christian, Elon and last season with the United Soccer League Pro’s Charlotte Eagles, might be the Colorado Rapids’ starter for a while. When starter Matt Pickens broke his arm early in a game last week against Real Salt Lake, Irwin came in and had two saves while allowing one goal in a 1-1 tie.
“You always know there’s a chance you can get into a game, but I’ve been battling just to make the bench,” Irwin told MLSSoccer.com. “It was a little surreal because I went out for warm-ups with Matt, and coaches took me right in front of the RSL supporters there at the end of the field and they were giving me stick.
“If you’re coming from a small school and USL, you don’t hear that kind of stuff. That was a good wakeup call for me that I was in the big leagues now.”
Irwin, who also played for Charlotte United Futbol Club growing up, is expected to start again Saturday when the Rapids face the Los Angeles Galaxy, although Colorado coach Oscar Pareja said he hopes to sign another goalie to compete for the starting spot. Pickens is expected to be out 3-4 months.
• Former Charlotte 49ers and Charlotte Catholic High midfielder Donnie Smith got his first start with the New England Revolution when he played 53 minutes last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.
Smith, who helped the 49ers to the 2011 NCAA College Cup championship game, was the 21st overall pick in the MLS draft earlier this year.