When the Rapids acquired Auston Trusty in the 2020 offseason, there was no shortage of excitement around the organization. The athletic center back has all the tools to make his mark on this league and on U.S. Soccer as a whole.
But 2020 didn’t go the way Trusty imagined. Even what was to be his first start was interrupted when the match against FC Dallas was postponed due to a league-wide match protest in August. He went on to start five matches, but he will be the first to tell you that wasn’t his goal.
“Last year was a difficult year with COVID and everything like that,” Trusty said. “It was a different kind of environment. For me, it was kind of hard to get to know everybody on a personal level. There was no locker room, there was no environment for us to even get to know each other.”
The challenges that come with departing your hometown team can’t be overlooked, either. Trusty played with the Philadelphia Union Academy since he was 8 years old, signing a Homegrown Player contract at age 17.
“Leaving Philly was hard for me… but it was time for me to be in a new environment,” Trusty explained. “In Philadelphia, when you’re there your entire life, that’s all you know, in a sense. I never knew any other form of soccer, other than the national team. I never knew any other coaching mentality or anything like that, and that’s what I love [about Colorado]. I knew Robin [Fraser] had a young team, he was a good coach, that’s what attracted me to come here.”
And this year, the move is paying off.
Trusty has started the first four games of the season, and he has not only played the full 90 minutes in each contest, but he has continued to play at an elevated level.
“I think Auston is coming along. He’s not played a lot of minutes, really in the last year or so, and really worked hard in the offseason to get himself fit and get himself in this position,” Fraser said.
"I thought Auston was great,” defender Keegan Rosenberry said following the clean sheet draw in Dallas to start the season. “The qualities you saw from him tonight are what he possesses: he’s athletic, he’s strong, he’s good in the air and he connected his passes tonight. Did well.”
His ability to lead the team in transition has stood out in addition to his defensive presence. He leads the Rapids with 30 clearances, more than triple the number of any other defender. He is also third on the team in pass completion percentage, among starters.
“You see him making improvements within games and from game to game, so he’s definitely coming along well,” Fraser said.
Learning from Fraser, specifically, is something that gives Trusty a lot of opportunity to continue to develop. Fraser played center back for 10 years in MLS and was named one of the 25 Greatest MLS players of all time.
“Robin uses his eyes really well, in terms of how he plays center back and how he teaches us to play center back,” Trusty said. “In terms of looking at certain people, certain pockets, situations you are in as a center back and just learning a lot from his mindset and his experience as a center back himself, I don’t think it gets better than that.”
Trusty’s confidence on the ball during games is evident, and it has shifted the 22-year-old into more of a leadership role off the field.
“I’ve told the young guys, ‘I’ve been in your position before, I signed when I was 17,’ and I was pretty much the only young guy on the team, and, until later on, I never had someone like a mentor for me to talk to,” Trusty explained. “So, I told them, ‘Listen, if you have anything to say, any problems, anything, I can work through it with you guys. Don’t be afraid to come talk to me.’”
The developing combination of leadership and confidence as well and vision and athleticism has Trusty hitting his stride at a great time for the Colorado Rapids. Now, it’s about bringing these skills together with the most important piece of the puzzle: teamwork.
“It all starts with mindset,” Trusty said. “If we all are on the same page, if I can be a leader on the team, through example and through outside of the field, the sky is the limit. For any of us. For all of us. We all have individual goals, we all have team goals, but in order for us to achieve our individual goals, we have to be good as a team, as a unit, we have to be solid.”