After the Colorado Rapids’ disappointing last-minute loss to Portland Timbers FC in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, Homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett’s grandmother had an important message for him.
“Although it was tough, losing to Portland, my grandma said it after the game, 'There's always a yin and a yang.' I was able to go to [the USMNT] camp now that we did lose, so although we didn't like to, it's given me an opportunity that I have been waiting for all year, so I'm excited to be here.”
Not even a week after the semifinal loss, Bassett and Rapids teammates Kellyn Acosta and Auston Trusty were called up to the men’s national team camp ahead of the international friendly with Bosnia & Herzegovina on December 18.
This senior team call-up is only the second for both Bassett and Trusty, aged 20 and 23, respectively. With a debut in Saturday’s friendly, Bassett can be the second Colorado Homegrown to accomplish the feat after former Rapids Academy teammate Sam Vines recorded his first cap with the national team in 2020. Vines was not called up to this month’s camp, but congratulated his close friend and teammate all the same on the accomplishment and opportunity to make his mark on the national stage.
“I think at this point I do kind of know what's expected and I think Kellyn and Trusty can be alongside me here,” Bassett said. “I think it's good that it's also [mostly] MLS players. I can really stake my claim here and try to step up as more of a leader amongst those [younger] kids in camp and show that I deserve to start the game at the end of the window.”
Like Bassett, Trusty has appeared at USMNT camps in the past but has yet to make his debut. The defender’s last call-up was in January 2019, while Bassett last made a camp appearance in December 2020.
Acosta is the only Colorado member of the three to have made his national team debut thus far, and has gone above and beyond in his performances with Gregg Berhalter’s squad since, recording a team-leading 20 appearances in 2021, tying Landon Donovan for the most caps in a year since 2002. His veteran status with the team plays into the comfortability of Bassett and Trusty at this month’s camp.
“With Kellyn it's great because he's up for Player of the Year with the national team, [and] I think he's been in every camp this year," Basset said. "And Gregg [Berhalter] really likes him and he knows the position well, it's good for me [to be] in a fairly similar spot to him on the field. It’s just nice to have a little bit of comfort when you come into camp knowing two guys that are close friends with me on the Rapids so it makes it easier to adopt everything else.”
Of the 26 players called up, 21 are from 12 different MLS clubs currently in the postseason. The Rapids and FC Dallas lead the roster with most players called up at three each. Despite the Rapids’ play in the Concacaf Champions League set to begin in February, the December and January national team camps offer the Colorado players the opportunity to stay fit and hone their craft even more in the offseason.
“For me, a guy that loves to play all the time, it was good to hear that I was going into camp,” Bassett said, “So if we want to be a part of [the January camp] we can show it during this window and I think the coaches have given us the opportunity to be here and now it's really up to us as players to show that we deserve to be in that group.”