Commerce City, Colo. – Davy Armstrong is not the first Colorado-area player to join a Major League Soccer team. He’s not even the first on this year’s Rapids team, as he joins Conor Casey and Colin Clark who both grew up playing club and high school soccer in Colorado.
However, Armstrong is the first to develop through the club’s youth system and progress to the organization’s professional team.
“Obviously we’re very proud that it’s one of our players, but I think it’s a testament to what’s going on in youth soccer in Colorado,” said Harald Heinrich, Program Director for Colorado Fusion Boys Academy and Sr. Academy. “There is so much talent, so many good coaches that do a great job with the kids.”
Armstrong helped lead Fusion to the 2005 Colorado State Cup title and was invited to be part of the Rapids inaugural SUM U-17 Cup team in 2007. He joined the Rapids Academy on a full-time basis prior to his senior year and has been under the guidance of the professional side ever since.
“We are approaching a situation that clubs in Europe have, where you are being discovered and you’re being guided,” said Heinrich. “He’s been with the Rapids for a year and a half in the Development Academy and that is a perfect environment to then be pushed on to the pros.”
As he trained with the Rapids first team during the summer to prepare for what he expected to be his freshman year at the University of Washington, Armstrong was then offered a contract to join the Rapids professional team for good.
“He’s a perfect age,” said Heinrich. “I think Davy has an even better environment, where he can play as a high school player alongside pros and develop his game, and not be pushed. He’s going to be nurtured and inserted into the team when he’s ready.”
Heinrich sees Armstrong as an example of what he hopes continues to happen with the top youth players in Colorado.
“I think what needs to happen in Colorado is the focus to be on the professional clubs, that the most talented players in the state get pushed towards the Rapids eventually,” added Heinrich. “Not at 10 years old, but definitely before they reach high school.”
“Let’s be honest, he is one in 100,000. Not many kids start soccer at six years old and end up being professional – those are the elite athletes. But if you don’t work early with them, you’re not going to discover them; you’re not going to prepare them for professional soccer.”
The 18-year-old attended Rangeview High School in Aurora where he scored over 50 goals during his four years. In 2008, he was recognized as the Colorado State High School Player of the Year and earned NSCAA All-American honors.
All accolades aside, Heinrich believes Armstrong has something else that led to this day.
“Davy is an extremely humble kid, he has a great attitude, and he’s extremely determined,” said Heinrich. “But he’s very humble, he flies below the radar. He never really drew attention to himself, just his playing did.”