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Rapids rookie goalkeeper Clinton Irwin enjoys a big night for the Colorado Rapids

Apr 6, 2013, 10:47 PM EDT

Clint Irwin

There are plenty of heroes to go around as Colorado, easily the most injury-depleted MLS side so far in 2013, collected their first win of the young season.

But do any of them have a story like rookie goalkeeper Clinton Irwin?

A little over three weeks ago, the very best Colorado Rapids’ supporters could have tripped over Irwin and not recognized the man. Why would they? He was a rookie draft pick out of Elon University, a tiny school in North Carolina. He was even a late preseason signing.

But when Matt Pickens, the longtime incumbent in Rapids goal, broke his arm on March 16, Irwin got the call.

Four games into his MLS career and Irwin has allowed just four goals. His first career shutout came Saturday as the Rapids held off Alvaro Saborio and Real Salt Lake, taking a big step toward swiping the Rocky Mountain Cup away from its current Utah address.

The night’s biggest play came in the first half, when Irwin guessed correctly and did just enough to push Saborio’s penalty kick onto the post and away from danger.

(MORE: Video of a very soft penalty kick decision)

Irwin’s shutout and the Rapids’ initial win of 2013 needed some luck along the way. Saborio missed on three uncontested headers, including two from inside the six. On another night, the Costa Rican international might have contributed two or three goals.

But this was no other night – and Irwin’s is no other story.

Here are highlights from Saturday’s 1-0 Rapids win at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

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