CCL experience a boost for reserve players

Meaningful matches have full squad running on all cylinders

Dannye Earls warms up before Real Espana game_DL

Photo Credit: 
ColoradoRapids.com

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — It may be a coincidence that the recent good form of the Colorado Rapids reserve players comes on the heels of a hectic MLS and CONCACAF Champions League schedule for the first team. But Brett Jacobs, head coach of the Rapids Reserves team, it's no coincidence.

Jacobs’ squad ran out 3-0 victors over the Houston Dynamo at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday morning, their second consecutive win after defeating the Chicago Fire 2-0 last Sunday. Many of the same players that have been involved in recent CCL and league play featured in the reserves’ starting XI.

“I think that the experience in CONCACAF really helps the self esteem of these players and it makes them excited because now there are meaningful games to play,” Jacobs told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve really attacked the reserve games as well, so I am very pleased.”

Seven players who started against Houston featured in a 1-1 draw on Aug. 23 at Honduran side Real España, including Quincy Amarikwa and Andre Akpan. Amarikwa scored one goal and assisted on the two goals Akpan bagged against the Dynamo reserves.

Houston’s squad included many first team regulars such as former Rapids midifielder Colin Clark, veteran defenders Bobby Boswell and Eddie Robinson, and forwards Will Bruin and Jason Garey.

“These games are great indicators of what players are moving towards and the form they are in,” Jacobs said. “I am just pleased they are able to get that feeling of getting a result. It’s big for their confidence and for their mental strength to push through the rest of the season.”

The Colorado reserves had just one point from six games before their win against Chicago. Jacobs said he didn’t think the team was doing anything significantly different now than it was earlier in the season. It was simply a question of confidence and depth.

“To be quite honest with you, we played really well in the first part of this season,” Jacobs said. “There were some growing pains but, slowly but surely, the depth of the group has increased and the guys are now in that part of the season where they are pushing on. And they have shown that winning is a part of their development, not just playing well.”

Defender Danny Earls played in both of the reserves’ wins and saw time with the first team in last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire as well as the match against Real España. Earls was grateful for the opportunity to get more game time under his belt.

“First and foremost, what you have to get out of it is match fitness,” he told MLSsoccer.com. ”These games are invaluable. We approached it well.”

Earls said he is enjoying improved confidence with the good recent results in both the first and reserve teams. He hopes to translate that into more match time as the Rapids begin a stretch of seven games in 23 days on Sept. 9 against the LA Galaxy.

“I feel like it’s coming back and the manager has confidence in me,” he said. “We will have to call on everyone in the squad. I’m feeling fit and ready to go and, hopefully, I can get some kind of look in and I can keep my place somewhere down the line.”