Last month, Colorado Rapids players Diego Rubio and Darren Yapi earned the opportunity to represent the Chilean and U.S. national teams, respectively, during the international window in late March.
Rubio, the club’s leading scorer in 2022, was called up to the Chilean National Team. Coming off a knee surgery in February, Rubio was named to the starting lineup in an international friendly with Paraguay. He logged 46 minutes on the pitch, and the squad ultimately recorded a 3-2 win.
“For me, the experience to play for the national team is always amazing,” Rubio said. “I came back from surgery pretty recently, and it took me a bit to get used to the training and the levels of the other players, but it’s always a good experience. It’s kind of like a reward for what you are doing in your club to get called for the national team. The goal for the rest of the season is to keep a high level in every game. I want to play as much as I can and be decisive in the games and important to my team, so I can get called again and again to the national team.”
Homegrown Darren Yapi got the call up to the U.S. U-20 Men’s Youth National Team, his first for the age group. With three games set for the final training camp, Yapi earned starts in the games against England and Serbia U-21.
“It was a good experience being around top players and an honor to represent my country, no matter what age group,” Yapi said. “The teammates I had all had different skills and different styles of play, so I had the chance to take a piece from each player and learn from them and the coaching staff as well.”
In addition to experience and exposure to different styles of play, Rapids head coach Robin Fraser also noted that national team call-ups are a huge boost in confidence and can make an immediate impact on the club team.
“There is probably nothing that builds confidence more than being called to represent your country” Fraser said. “Chile has been one of the best teams in the world probably for my entire lifetime, so the fact that Diego was in with the Chilean national team is a big confidence booster for him. That's pretty elite company, so I think the confidence that he gains there is absolutely beneficial to us because the more confident the players are, the better they're going to be, so certainly that's big for him.
“Yapi is a promising young player. He's 18 years old and has a really, really bright future and to get called into the U-20s and have an opportunity to play in a Youth World Cup is a really, really cool thing and the sort of thing that I think also brings more confidence. He's had some good moments for us and some good games for us. But I thought he looked more confident and more like a regular MLS first team player when he came in [against LAFC], and after his first couple of touches the first thing I thought was he's on a confident side… Despite not having scored yet for us, watching him tonight, I feel like him going away and playing with the U-20s against some of the biggest teams in the world, he came back tonight as a different person. As long as these guys keep working hard and earning these international opportunities, they're going to be playing better. That's going to benefit us.”