In a season filled with its fair share of struggles for the Colorado Rapids, Dominique Badji has excelled. The 24-year old striker continues to lead Colorado in scoring, adding his eighth goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against New York City FC.
“Every day he comes into work he’s a top professional,” Rapids interim head coach Steve Cooke said of Badji. “He puts in his time before training and stays late to work on becoming a good player and a good professional. I’m really pleased for him because he does put in that time.”
Entering 2017, Badji set a personal mark of double digit goals for the season. With six games remaining for the Rapids, he remains eager hit the mark.
“I’m still on track to do it and I’m still planning on doing it,” Badji said. “I’ve got a handful of games left and I’m definitely planning on scoring in those games. I want to hit that target.”
As the 67th overall selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Badji was not expected to earn a golden boot for the team initially.
“People possibly can’t remember because he’s scoring goals these days but he was a fourth-round pick. People probably looked and said this might be one of those fourth-round draft picks who gets pushed aside,” Cooke recalls. “When he started, I don’t think anyone would say he’d be the top scorer for the Rapids within a couple of years and that’s where he is.”
After some hard work and signs of improvement in each of his seasons as a professional, those within the Rapids’ locker room believe the sky is the limit for the young striker.
“I think his ceiling is as high as he wants it to be,” Cooke said “He needs to have ambition to be a top player in this league and I think Dominique Badji could be a top scorer for many years to come.”
Colorado has struggled with consistency in both lineup and results this season, but with latest signing Stefan Aigner starting to get his legs under him and the midfield developing chemistry, Badji is optimistic about the Rapids’ offense.
“The wingers are just looking to create opportunities for me,” he explained. “It’s something that’s been a work in progress, but we’ve got a solid front four that are attacking minded.”
Despite the difficulties of 2017, Colorado still believes it has a lot to bank on for its future. Badji figures to play a big part in that along the way.
Said Cooke, “We said to the guys, if you stay in this game, we’re going to have this moments. If you hit the target, you’ve got a great opportunity to score a goal and Dominique Badji keeps doing that. He’s a real threat now in this league. He’s only 24 so he’s got some good years ahead of him. “