Rapids fans will look back on Saturday’s win against Minnesota United FC and focus on the team's resiliency and urgency throughout the game. Rightfully so. The visitors from Colorado went into a difficult environment and found a way to hand the Loons just a fifth home loss of the season while out-performing them in several categories including shots on target, possession and passing accuracy.
However, one player's performance will stand out above the others when Rapids fans look back on this match, and the 2018 season. I'm referring of course, to the first MLS start for 17-year-old Homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett who definitely opened some eyes across the league on Saturday.
Rapids fans have only seen glimpses of Bassett in the weeks since he officially signed back in August. But against the Loons, fans got to see what many within the organization have been raving about since the Littleton native joined the Development Academy in 2017. Right from the first whistle, Bassett showed a soccer IQ and technical ability well beyond his years. In the 25th minute, Bassett's vision created an opportunity for the Rapids as he sent a brilliant pass out wide to Shkëlzen Gashi. Unfortunately, the Rapids couldn’t capitalize on that attempt but it's exactly the line-breaking pass and style of play head coach Anthony Hudson and his staff have been looking to implement since they arrived in Colorado.
Bassett's first start didn't come about because the coaching staff thinks he has a great backstory. It was awarded to him because - even at 17 - he has mentality and ability to play the style of football his boss prefers.
“This is not a token gesture, him getting a start," Hudson said. "If it was that way we would have pulled him off the pitch because we didn't trust him, but he actually showed qualities throughout the game that we felt would help us see the game out."
Whether in the attacking third or tracking back defensively, Bassett rose to the occasion and didn't look out of place for a single moment. As you can see below, the midfielder made 54 passes, completing 75.93 percent of them. Those numbers would be a good day for an MLS veteran. For a 17-year-old making his first MLS start on the road in a tight match? They're downright eye opening.
As the Rapids continue to build the foundation for the future, Rapids fans hope #26 will be an important piece to the puzzle. But Bassett himself will tell you he's still got a ways to go.
"I had a couple missed passes, I could have gone a little more 1-v-1 and on the turn, and I cramped up at the end, because I haven't played a full 90 since July with the Under-23s," Bassett said with a smile.
But it's that humble, 'never stop working' attitude that will serve Bassett well as he continues to develop.
"It was pretty good overall, it was great to get a win and help the team get a result here...It was decent but I definitely have a lot to improve going into the next couple games and hopefully I can get a chance to improve with another start."