TUCSON, Ariz. ― Andre Shinyashiki is undergoing something of a transformation.

At 23-years-old, the Rapids forward still looks up to the veterans in the locker room, learning from them all he can about what it takes to make it in MLS. But entering his third year with Colorado, Shinyashiki is no longer a greenhorn, and he is embracing his evolving role within the group.

“I definitely feel like I’m switching from a young guy to an old guy in the locker room,” Shinyashiki said. “I try to help the younger guys a lot, especially the ones that just signed, the Homegrowns. Two of them didn’t even live in Denver, so it’s hard for them to get adapted to that so I just try to really help them.

“For example, we have [Darren] Yapi, who’s a younger player, plays the similar position that I do. I try to give him some help on movements and stuff like that.”

Shinyashiki said he’s also taken time to build relationships with new teammates at different position groups. It’s indicative of the ‘ONE CLUB’ mantra at Colorado Rapids, one emblazoned on the inside collar of the new Class 5 kit and which Shinyashiki has fully bought in to.

“The chemistry between players on and off the field helps us win games,” Shinyashiki said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Another critical element to winning games is competition within the squad, and for Shinyashiki in particular, competition is stiff. But it’s an aspect of professional soccer that he has always relished.

In 2019, when Shinyashiki was just a draft pick out of the University of Denver, he stepped into a forward corps featuring Chile national team striker Diego Rubio and Kei Kamara, one of the best goal scorers in MLS history. Still, Shinyashiki earned minutes in 31 games, starting 18 and putting up seven goals and three assists en route to MLS Rookie of the Year honors.

“If you’re just comfortable all the time, you’re never going to be a good team. I thrive on seeing players try to take my position or trying to take people’s position,” said Shinyashiki. “For me, it’s a sense of thriving in that environment of competition but at the same time helping the guys around you because you want to see them succeed, too.”

As for his own success, Shinyashiki took time to find his groove in an unprecedentedly difficult 2020, but he got hot when the Rapids needed him most. The Brazilian scored all four of his goals in the final eight games of the regular season, helping Colorado reach the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Rapids Forward Andre Shinyashiki Embraces Evolving Role in the Locker Room -

One element Shinyashiki and the rest of the club are looking forward to is the eventual return of fans to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. Details on that are still being determined, but Shinyashiki is fully aware of how much they mean to the club.

“To me the fans are the most important thing,” he said. “They are why we play the game. I don’t think the fans understand how important they are to us because we sometimes don’t have energy to make a run, but when the fans start yelling… You can’t explain what it is but it gives you that an extra boost and not having them in the stands was a shock to all of us. We didn’t realize how much we missed them until we didn’t have them. I am super excited to have them back to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. Sooner the better but we never know. It’s not something that’s in our control so we’re just going to keep working and regardless if they’re there or not we’re going to do our best. Ultimately we want to see them there.”