Before kicking off the 2023 season, Rapids Homegrown striker Darren Yapi put in work with a national team crest on his chest. 

The striker arrived at Colorado’s preseason fresh off of ten days in Miami with the U.S. U-19 Men’s Youth National Team training camp. Yapi was one of 11 MLS players in the mix led by head coach Marko Mitrović, but his experience training with the first team since signing his Homegrown contract in 2021 gave him an extra edge on other players in the camp. 

Yapi’s call-up was not the first with the national squad; he made international debut with the U.S. U-17 youth national team during the UEFA Development Tournament in February 2020, where he appeared in all three of the Stars & Stripes’ matches during the competition.

“Everywhere I go I want to try to be the best I can be,” he said. “Obviously, I'm going to work hard everywhere I go as well. I saw camp as an opportunity to really prove myself and just show what I can do.”

His head start to preseason training paid off in the Rapids’ first preseason scrimmage with Mexican side Celaya FC, where he recorded a brace. The training in Miami gave the striker the chance to work on fitness, finishing and staying sharp in his attacking game.

“And it's just good to see all my hard work pay off,” he said postgame. “In training, I've been working on my shooting, finishing and all that. It's just good to see pay off in the game.”

Yapi applies the same mentality to training with the USMYNT as he does the club he grew up in. For him, it’s all about putting in the work. 

“I just want to prove that I can be the best and work really hard and help the team,” he said. “Doesn't matter what colors I'm wearing, what shirt I'm wearing, what crest I'm wearing. I just want to do the same and just work hard.”