Toronto FC acquires goalkeeper Irwin from Rapids

Clint Irwin. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

One of the biggest questions surrounding Toronto FC ahead of the 2016 MLS season—who will be their starting goalkeeper?—has finally been answered.

The Reds announced Monday that they have acquired goalkeeper Clint Irwin in a trade with the Colorado Rapids. In exchange, the Rapids receive targeted allocation money, TFC’s highest 2016 third round MLS SuperDraft pick and a conditional 2017 first round pick.

Iriwn, a 26-year-old native of Charlotte, was an MLS all star last season, and made 89 MLS appearances (with 25 clean sheets) for Colorado since debuting for the club in 2013.

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Toronto has been without a veteran goalkeeper since December when it did not pick up the options on Chris Konopka and Joe Bendik, who was later traded to Orlando City. Young ‘keepers Alex Bono and Quillan Roberts spent last season with TFC 2, the club’s USL affiliate, but neither is considered to be ready to start in MLS.

After Toronto conceded a league-high 58 goals in 2015, club president Bill Manning and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko identified the defence as an area of focus for improvement this winter. They also said they were looking for an upgrade at the goalkeeper position as part of their defensive rebuild

“Improving our defence has been a stated priority for our club this off-season. Bringing in Clint helps to solidify our defensive group, and with Clint on board we are confident in our collection of goalkeepers across the first team and TFC2,” TFC GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in statement.

Irwin is the latest off-season addition by TFC, joining veteran central defender Drew Moor, right fullback Steven Beitashour and Canadian midfielder Will Johnson. Irwin played with Moore at Colorado, so their familiarity should help TFC’s defence to be more stable in 2016.

This is also a shrewd piece of business by Toronto, getting a goalkeeper the calibre of Irwin for modest draft pick selections and targeted allocation money.

“We are very excited about what Clint will add to our group and look forward to his quick transition into our team, which is aided by his familiarity with Drew in Colorado,” Bezbatchenko said.

With Irwin on the roster, look for Bono and Roberts (a native of Brampton, Ont.) to battle it out for the backup goalkeeper position.

A product of Elon University in North Carolina, Irwin cut his teeth in the lower leagues—including a stint in Ottawa with Capital City F.C.—before signing with the Rapids in 2013. Interestingly, Irwin played high school basketball with current NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry at Charlotte Christian School

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