COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- It’s almost impossible to believe, but a year and a half ago, Colorado Rapids left back Chris Klute was slugging his way through the Atlanta Silverbacks’ reserves, simply looking for a chance to move up into the NASL side’s first team.
Here in November 2013, however, both Klute and the Silverbacks have come a long way. Klute is firmly established as the Rapids’ starting left back and considered one of the more promising left back prospects in MLS, and the Silverbacks are in Saturday’s NASL title game, Soccer Bowl 2013, where they'll host the New York Cosmos (5:30 p.m MT, live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com).
“It’s really good for them,” said Klute, who played with Atlanta’s reserves for two years before his promotion to the first team in June 2012. “We were coming up doing pretty badly the season before, so it’s a big turnaround for them and that’s really good. It’s going to be awesome for them, and it’s a big advantage to play the final in Atlanta.”
The Rapids completed the transfer of Klute from the Silverbacks in July of this year (PHOTO right, Klute with Atlanta in 2012).
Soccer Bowl 2013 is the NASL's Championship match, which sees the Spring Season Champions (Atlanta) matching up against the Fall Season Champions (NY) Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park (MORE). The title game marks a significant recent turnaround for Atlanta, which finished in eighth and seventh in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Klute’s surge to prominence has coincided with the Silverbacks’ revival. After being loaned to the Rapids in September 2012 on the recommendation of Silverbacks technical director Eric Wynalda, Klute won the starting left back job early in 2013 and hasn’t looked back, starting each of the Rapids’ final 30 games this season.
But even with his sudden success in a bigger league on the other side of the country, Klute isn’t about to forget where he came from anytime soon.
“I’m definitely going to watch it,” the 23-year-old Klute said this week. “It’s good that they’re doing well, and I'm excited for them.”
EXTRA NOTES: For those unfamiliar, the NASL - North American Soccer League - is the sanctioned Division II professional soccer league in the United States, one step below Major League Soccer, and includes 13 teams around the country...the New York Cosmos team includes a number of players who either played or trialed with the Rapids, including Hunter Freeman, Joseph Nane, Peri Marosevic, Kyle Reynish, and Jimmy Maurer...Among Atlanta's key players is former FC Dallas forward Ruben Luna, who had a brief trial with the Rapids at the start of 2013 preseason. Also, Atlanta President and General Manager Andy Smith was a key member of the Colorado Rapids front office in the early 2000s, leading MLS in New Business Development in 2001 and part of the 2002 MLS Sales Staff of the Year after the Rapids averaged the standing club record of 20,687 fans per game.