Rapids Coaching Staff Selects 5 Players From Open Tryouts

WESTMINSTER CO (ColoradoRapids.com) - Many people have the idea that sequels or second parts are never as good as the original ones. Although that statement might hold true in the movie industry the Colorado Rapids have shown that when it comes to soccer second and maybe even third reincarnations of an event are sometimes better than the original one: more players registered took part and were selected in this year's open player tryout than the 2005 version.

The Black and Blue held their 2006 open tryouts on Saturday February 4th their second event of this kind since the inception of the team in 1996 (Major League Soccer held open tryouts in each market in 1995 before the teams came together).

The sold-out crowd this year topped 190 participants who came to Westminster from all over the state the nation and the world. Players from as far away as the Ivory Coast and Nigeria made it to the final group of 24 players that survived the first two cuts.

The field of 190 also included journalist Patrick Shea who recorded his experience on the day in a column for Rapids.com; read it online by CLICKING HERE.

The massive group started out the day at 10am by playing full-sided games rotating from field to field in front of several different evaluators. Head Coach Fernando Clavijo and Assistant Coaches John Murphy and Steve Trittschuh from the Rapids as well as coaching staffs from the PDL's Boulder Rapids Reserve and Colorado Springs Blizzard evaluated the talent.

The first massive cut at around noon sent a majority of the participants to the sidelines leaving only 77 still in the running for the opportunity of being selected by the coaching staff. The group of 77 was cut back to 24 by around 2pm leaving two teams of 12 players each in the final game of the day.

The final match showcased the players who had performed the best during the long tryout and gave the coaching staff the final opportunity to select any players that might be invited to take part in the Rapids’ preseason training camp.

At the end of the day the Rapids coaching staff called out five names to an exhausted but expectant throng of the final 24 players. These were the players that would be invited back to join the Rapids for training on Monday and they included three Fort Lewis College players and one University of Denver player.

Among the selected five was Seung Meang a 6’2 midfielder who learned about the tryout by visiting the Rapids’ webpage a couple of weeks before the event. The Incheon South Korea native who emigrated to the United States when in 6th grade packed his bags along with his brother and made his way to Westminster from his hometown in Maryland to pursue his soccer dream. Having played for a Division 3 college in Virginia Meang had also tried out unsuccessfully for the Columbus Crew at the age of 18 before going back to school. Meang had the goal of the day at the tryouts a 40-yard bomb that drew ooh’s from the crowd in the final match of the day.

The three Fort Lewis College players who were selected had come up to Denver all the way from Durango driving together to attend the tryouts. At the very least these three saved themselves another long drive back down to Durango as they were selected to remain on in training camp; they were Bryan Eisenbraun (defender) Nick Clark (goalkeeper) and Cole Sweetser (forward).

The final player selected to join the Rapids’ camp was midfielder Zack Kobilca who showed well all thoroughout the day with slick moves and strong passing and dribbling skills in the midfield. He's an Aurora Colorado resident a graduate of Smoky Hill High School and a current University of Denver student.

The five selected players are now training with the Rapids for further evaluation throughout this week in hopes of finding their names on the Rapids’ preseason travel roster to Pachuca México when the team departs on February 15th.

2006 RAPIDS OPEN TRYOUTS SELECTED PLAYERS:

Clark Nick
–Goalkeeper-
HT: 6-1
WT: 202
DOB: January 18 1983 in Durango CO
Hometown: Durango CO
College: Fort Lewis College
High School: Durango High School

Eisenbraun Bryan
–Defender-
HT: 6-0
WT: 150
DOB: March 4 1983 in Wheat Ridge CO
Hometown: Lakewood CO
College: Fort Lewis College
High School: Green Mountain

Kobilca Zack
–Midfielder-
HT: 5-11
WT: 168
DOB: April 15 1984 in Hinsdale IL
Hometown: Aurora CO
College: University of Denver
High School: Smoky Hill HS
Previous Club: Boulder Rapids Reserve (PDL)

Meang Seung
–Midfielder-
HT: 6-2
WT: 180
DOB: July 19 1985 in Incheon South Korea
Hometown: Hagerstown Maryland
College: Eastern Mennonite University
Former Club: Chesapeake Bay Dragons (PDL)

Sweetser Cole
–Forward-
HT: 5-7
WT: 135
DOB: April 22 1984 in Bradford TX
Hometown: North Richland Hills TX
College: Fort Lewis College