Ralph Priso went 71 minutes at Philadelphia Union on Saturday, the most time he has spent on an MLS field for the Colorado Rapids. Indeed, in 29 career appearances, he has never gone the distance and only played more minutes on three occasions.
In the words of head coach Robin Fraser: “I thought he grew into the game.”
Priso can but learn from these moments, arguably open to him in the absence of club captain Jack Price, and more recently former FC Dallas Designated Player, Bryan Acosta.
The 20-year-old central midfielder joined the Rapids on July 8 after being brought in from Toronto FC in exchange for Mark-Anthony Kaye, an international roster slot for 2023, the Canadian club’s natural first-round pick in the 2023 draft, and $1.025 million in General Allocation Money.
Priso can play as a six or an eight, and Saturday’s game inside Subaru Park was on his fourth appearance for the club, and his third start. He was an unused sub for the 1-1 home draw with Orlando City on July 13, a day after landing in the Centennial State.
He made his burgundy bow three days later, playing the first 45 minutes of a 2-0 home win over LA Galaxy, and has since had starts in Seattle and Philly, as well as 10 minutes at the end of the 2-1 reversal in Vancouver.
His minutes may have been limited but it appears the same can’t be said for his ability.
Fraser told me soon after Priso’s arrival: “I think Ralph is going to be a nice surprise maybe to everyone but me.
“I think he has real potential and is a really good, young player. He’s comfortable on the ball, a good passer, and can dribble out of trouble. He’s very smooth.”
Fraser added: “When I did my Pro License, I had to coach a couple of games with the U19s (at Toronto), so I knew him a bit from there.”
From the U19s, Priso made his Toronto FC II debut in a 2-2 draw at Richmond Kickers in the USL League One on August 17, 2019. Months later he was representing his country at the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil, where they faced the hosts, as well as Angola and New Zealand.
Toronto-born Priso’s MLS career began with a tough introduction on October 24, 2020 in Philadelphia. He made 25 regular season appearances for his hometown team, scoring goals against New York Red Bulls (2021) and Atlanta United (2022). Both career assists to date also came last season.
At 19, and with very little notice, Priso packed his possessions and made the move from Canada - and all that he knew - to the United States. Though it is an accepted part of the job, such a move can never be underestimated for a young person.
Priso is not just adjusting to a new life in a new country, but he has also been finding his feet under the man who has monitored his movements these past few years.
Robin Fraser has spoken highly of the Canadian youth international. And while we prioritize the here and now, there has to be a consideration for the later on.
Adversity certainly hardened the character of Homegrowns Cole Bassett and Sam Vines, and it will hopefully do so for Ralph Priso.