Pareja impressed with newcomer Klute's willingness to learn
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Two months ago, new Colorado Rapids defender Chris Klute was training with the reserves of the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks.
Now he's busy fighting for a real opportunity with his brand new MLS team.
After signing a one-year loan deal with the Rapids on Sept. 14, the speedy, 6-foot-1 Klute was thought to be little more a developmental project. But in just his second practice with the Rapids, Klute was training with the reserves, and is now making head coach Oscar Pareja think about playing the youngster in the season’s final four games, something that didn’t appear to be in the cards when Klute first arrived in Colorado.
“Chris has shown that he can adapt very well,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “He has some characteristics that I like. He has intensity, [and] he has, most importantly, the willingness to be coached, and that’s a big key. He seems like he’s adapting well within the group. I know he’s going to be an asset for us.”
The 22-year-old Klute can play all four positions along the back and practiced at both center and wing back last week. The native of Grand Prairie, Texas, said he owes his sudden jump from the NASL to MLS to hard work.
“About a couple months ago after school, I just got focused and knew I wanted to play soccer and just started working hard every day and that’s basically what happened,” Klute said. “The opportunity came; it was kind of unexpected it was coming. I had no idea.”
The rise has been quick and sudden for Klute, who played a year of collegiate soccer at both Furman University and Clayton State University, but he isn’t content even after reaching the MLS level.
“It’s been a real jump,” he said. “Definitely in the level of play. It’s fun just jumping all these levels and getting to the highest level is the goal, so this is just one stepping stone for me.”
Klute’s quick ascension, however, has Pareja trying to slow down the game for his newcomer, despite his apparent talent.
“We don’t want to make him jump or force things for him,” the Rapids boss said. “I think it’s important to keep him on the right path where he can feel comfortable understanding what we want. But [last Thursday, his second practice] he matched up very well with everyone. He was competing for a position like anyone else, very well.”