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Riding the Youngster Wave in CO

Yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We hope the best for the organization in overcoming all obstacles including COVID-19. We don’t know much about what to expect moving forward. But we do know one thing. The kids are hitting their stride in Colorado!

The recent run on form from the Colorado Rapids has been impressive. Despite not being able to play recently due to players and staff testing positive for Covid-19, we have seen the younger players step up.

Hitting a purple patch of form prior to four games being postponed was none other than Cole Bassett. Born in Littleton, Colorado the 19 year old was the eighth player from the Rapids Academy to sign a homegrown contract. Typically playing in central midfield as the #8 or #10 position, his trademark late runs into dangerous areas are paying off. Back on September 21 after a 2-0 win against Sporting KC, he singled out exactly what he wanted to do – “I want to be a goal scoring midfielder,” and he is doing just that, banging in 4 goals and 4 assists in just 504 minutes so far this year.

Bassett has always been an ambitious player. His favorite club is Arsenal where he hopes to play one day. He models his game on the great English midfielder Frank Lampard whose trademark is those same late runs into the box. After turning down an offer from Hoffenheim in his past, he looks destined to part ways with the Rapids in the near future. A move abroad means he would be the first homegrown Rapids player to do so – quite an accomplishment.

When the January transfer window opens up do not be surprised if offers start trickling in. And it won’t just be for our prized midfielder. The young man who secured the left back slot for the Rapids is also on the rise – Sam Vines.

The 21 year old from Colorado Springs joined the Rapids on a homegrown contract three years ago. After being loaned out and playing 29 games for the Charlotte Independence in the USL, he fought for a place in the starting lineup for the Rapids. Now a mainstay on the squad, he reached another massive step forward when the National Team called him up this year. This gave him the unique distinction of being the first homegrown player from the Rapids Academy to start for the US National Team, and he likely has a bright future as his position is lacking at the national level.

Vines is a pacey, intelligent defender that is growing on the offensive side of the ball with 1 goal and 2 assists this season (compared to zero last year). He is quick enough to cover open space, reads the game well, and contributes to the team overall. Capable, like any player, of making a mistake where his youth still shows, however he is quick to overcome mental obstacles and get back in the game.

Just like Bassett, there are no concrete transfer rumors to date. We should expect Bassett to go first while we could get an additional year out of Vines before any potential transfer abroad. Both players would likely fit in well at a level on par with the Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga or English Championship. Regardless, I would expect that they wouldn’t be immediate starts and would have to earn their way in slowly, but they both show the work ethic to reach this next level and a maturity beyond their years.

These are not the only young guns playing well for the Rapids, but they are both homegrown talents that the Rapids can be proud of while they wear our colors. There are a number of other players to single out, but these two are undoubtedly our hottest prospects.

Meanwhile, Coach Fraser seems to have all the players bought in on the Rapids, working hard for each other and putting up some good performances. The unfortunate turn of events, which has seen practices suspended and games postponed, has halted the momentum of the Burgundy Boys, making for a challenging comeback. Furthermore, any additional postponed games will have to be rescheduled after Decision Day. Of course this obstacle doesn’t mean they can’t pick up exactly where they left off as they have every reason to feel confident when they hit the field again. Plenty of rest and our young talent hitting their stride could very well be the catalyst the team needs to come out swinging when they’re finally cleared to play.

Until next time, stay safe soccer fans!

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