Since becoming the head figure at the Colorado Rapids in 2018, club president Pádraig Smith has significantly built up and enhanced the connections with its sister club, Arsenal FC of the English Premier League.
On Thursday, multiple reports stated Arsenal under-18 head coach Jack Wilshere interviewed for and is being considered for the vacant Rapids head coach position. Both teams are owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and Thursday.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein first reported the news Arsenal formally approved the Rapids to speak to Wilshere, 31, to interview for the role. Ornstein added “he is thought to have impressed during his interview”.
In a statement to The Denver Post, a club spokesperson said the team would “respectfully decline to confirm or deny any rumors about specific candidates out of respect for our pool of candidates.”
The Post reported last week that the Rapids were down to five candidates after the first round of interviews, which wrapped up in late September. Colorado is looking for a new head coach after the team parted ways with Robin Fraser on Sept. 5. Interim head coach Chris Little is still considered a candidate for the job.
Wilshere first started coaching the under-18s in July 2022 and led Arsenal to last season’s Youth FA Cup final. A former England international (34 appearances), Wilshere played 197 times for Arsenal, West Ham, Bournemouth and Aarhus in Denmark before retiring last summer.
Ornstein first reported that “people at Arsenal talk of (Wilshere’s) incredible work ethic, living and breathing the job” and is interested in coaching senior teams “if the right chance arises.”
In recent seasons, Smith has traveled to London on multiple occasions to meet with Arsenal executives, while the parties also met in Denver last January. He is regularly in contact with CEO Vinai Venkatesham, director of football operations Richard Garlick and sporting director Edu Gaspar. The two clubs also share the same data, StatDNA, a software company which was acquired by KSE in December 2012, where Rapids sporting director Fran Taylor previously worked.
Whomever the next head coach may be, Smith said in a news conference last month that sticking to the club principles will be imperative.
“One of the key things for me is to make sure that the new head coach fully believes in our identity,” Smith said in September. “That is their identity, too, and how they see the game. I think that’s incredibly important that they buy into that, because that then limits the opportunity for any deviation from that.”
The Rapids have upped the ante in recent seasons with its sister club, as Colorado sold standout defender Auston Trusty last January, which marked the first official transaction between the two sides. Additionally, Homegrown Players Darren Yapi and Cole Bassett trained with the under-23 team in 2019 and 2021.
Colorado (5-16-11, 26 points) sits in last place in the Western Conference with two games in the 2023 season remaining: Saturday at playoff-hopeful FC Dallas and hosting the Oct. 21 Decision Day game against Real Salt Lake.