Rapids rookie midfielder LaBauex rarin' to go

Virginia alum says team's veterans have been supportive

From playing college soccer just a
few months ago to walking out on the pitch for 45 minutes against mighty
Arsenal, Ross LaBauex has already taken some giant steps in his short career
with the Colorado Rapids.

Granted, the club’s second-round 2010 SuperDraft pick did
happen to win a national championship with the University of Virginia and the
Arsenal team he played against during the Rapids’ recent preseason trip to
England was full of aspiring teenagers, but the 21-year-old Chicago native is
noticing the step up in class.

“Just how sharp everyone is on the ball,” he said at Rapids
training this week of the differences he has seen so far between college and
pro soccer. “The movements. Everyone is so clean on the ball, so confident.”

The talented attacking midfielder said he is learning very
fast in what is proving to be a long preseason. Having been used to just two
weeks of college preseason, the two-month stint has been an enjoyable challenge
as well as a vast learning experience.

“We have older guys that really make you feel part of the
team,” he said of players like Pablo Mastroeni, Conor Casey, Pat Noonan and
Nick LaBrocca. “They’re not down on you. They make their points when they have
to but for the most part everyone is so positive, they really help you out.”

Time will tell if the rookie gets any significant playing
time in a midfield anchored by Mastroeni, new signing Jeff Larentowicz, the
fast-emerging LaBrocca and wide players such as Jamie Smith, Colin Clark and
Wells Thompson.  For now, LaBauex
can’t wait to get started with the real stuff.

“Everyone’s working hard to get to that goal of starting the
season well,” he said.

The Rapids kick off the 2010 season on the road against
Chivas USA next Friday, March 26.