Source: Rapids' Jeff Plush resigns

Updated: December 6, 2011, 4:53 PM ET
By Jeff Carlisle | ESPN.com

The turmoil surrounding the Colorado Rapids has taken an even more chaotic turn.

Rapids managing director Jeff Plush, who has been organizing the search for a coach to replace Gary Smith, has resigned to pursue other career opportunities, sources told ESPN.com.

Phone calls to the Rapids' front office were not immediately returned.

Plush has held the position since 2006, and presided over the team's MLS Cup triumph in 2010.

But the 2011 season was marked by difficulties both on and off the field. A torn Achilles tendon sidelined star forward Conor Casey in midseason, and a concussion to midfielder and captain Pablo Mastroeni prevented him from performing in the playoffs.

The Rapids eventually were ousted in the conference semifinals by Sporting Kansas City.

Off the field, disagreement emerged publicly between Smith and technical director Paul Bravo. Smith chafed at what he deemed to be meddling in personnel matters by Plush, Bravo and chief marketing officer Tim Hinchey.

Plush relieved Smith of his duties Nov. 7, stating that he preferred a more collaborative approach to player recruitment.

The Rapids had stated publicly last week that they had already interviewed four candidates to replace Smith, including former Chicago Fire coach Denis Hamlett and former New York Red Bulls assistant Richie Williams.

Former U.S. national team coach Steve Sampson told ESPN.com that he initially was interested in the post, but that after speaking with Bravo -- whom he coached at Santa Clara University -- he concluded that the possibility of taking over in Colorado was "not in the cards."

A Colorado spokesman informed ESPN.com earlier this week that the team hoped to have a coach in place by Christmas. But with Plush now out the door, that timetable is uncertain, especially as it relates to who now will actually conduct the search.

Considerable time pressure exists. The second stage of the MLS re-entry draft, for players whose contract option either has not been picked up or whose contract has expired, is set for Monday. The MLS SuperDraft for collegiate and youth players is set to take place Jan. 12.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN.com.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPNsoccernet.

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