Commerce City, Colo. - Hundreds applied, 60 were invited, and two made the final cut.
At the conclusion of the three-day invite-only tryout combine, Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo gathered the group of trialists and announced that the staff had selected defender Isaac Cowles and forward Sam Archer to join the Rapids for preseason training.
"I'm just very thankful for the opportunity," said Cowles afterwards. "That's what it is right now, another opportunity for me to come out and play my best. I just feel so blessed and thank everybody at the Rapids for this opportunity."
"I don't think it's hit me yet," said Archer. "It's an amazing feeling to have this opportunity. It was actually a last minute decision to come over here. I was like, "why not? go for it and try my luck."
Bravo pulled the two players aside following Thursday's session to explain the next steps. Archer, who was scheduled to return to New York later in the day, will now remain in Colorado and join Cowles at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Friday.
"Congratulations to you guys," Bravo told them. "Again, it's just the start. It's about how you conduct yourself from this point on."
Cowles might be familiar to local soccer fans. The 6' center back grew up in Denver and went to Faith Christian High School before attending UNC-Charlotte for the past four years. Last December, Cowles started for the 49ers in the NCAA College Cup Final, where Charlotte fell to North Carolina 1-0. He played his club soccer at Real Colorado.
Archer, born and raised in Queens, New York to Jamaican parents, had spent some time on the New York Red Bulls U-18 team and recently finished his fourth year playing at Rutgers University. He scored 33 goals in his senior year at John Adams High School in New York City.
The two were not the first players at the tryouts to be given a chance to work out with an MLS team. Halfway through day one of the combine, two players left after learning they were selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft. The Portland Timbers picked trialist Ryan Kawulok with the 8th pick in Tuesday's draft and the Montreal Impact selected Steven Miller 39th overall.
While Cowles and Archer have a long way to go before making the Rapids roster, they have some history on their side. In 2005, Steven Keel was signed by the Rapids after excelling at the tryouts. Keel this week signed on for his second season with the New York Red Bulls. In 2011, Steven Emory was one of two trialists to be invited to the Rapids preseason camp. After scoring goals in preseason matches against the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy, Emory was offered a contract, and was re-signed for 2012 this week.