The Colorado Rapids have returned to the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup, and the younger generation of Burgundy Boys are ready to seize their chances on the pitch.
From Homegrown players, to players joining the club via transfer, to MLS SuperDraft signings, the Rapids have an arsenal of young talent eager to hone their craft.
“I feel like Open Cups are just a great time for everyone, but specifically for younger guys that may be trying to find their way into the team, just to get some good, high-level minutes,” said Homegrown defender Seb Anderson.
Anderson played in the Rapids’ last Open Cup appearance in 2019 against New Mexico United, a fourth-round matchup that saw the USL side triumph in penalties.
“It was just a good experience to really help immerse yourself with the team and with some of the starters and be able to actually get those game minutes and play with them,” he said.
Academy product Darren Yapi agrees with Anderson, despite having only one cap in burgundy under his belt. The 17-year-old Homegrown made his Rapids and MLS debut on March 12 against Sporting Kansas City this season, subbing on in the 88th minute.
Yapi made club history in 2021 when he became the youngest player ever to sign a professional contract with the Rapids at just 16 years and 104 days.
“I just look for the consistency of minutes,” the striker said. "Like Seb said, just keep working, and once my name is called, I gotta be ready. There's games Wednesdays and Saturdays [this month] so chances are going to come, I know that for sure.”
May is a big month for Colorado, with the potential for the Rapids to play seven games in a four-week span. All those games, in addition to injury concerns among some of Colorado's players, means more opportunity for young players looking to prove themselves to the coaching staff.
Yapi, Anderson, and 2022 MLS SuperDraft signing Anthony Markanich have spent time playing with the Rapids’ MLS NEXT Pro team, Rapids 2, this season, racking up minutes while also training and traveling with the first team. Markanich is the only Burgundy Boy of the three to have not yet made his official Colorado Rapids appearance, an opportunity he’s hopeful for on Wednesday against Minnesota United.
“I've been working all these years for that moment,” the 22-year-old defender said. “I’m hoping to do whatever I can to help the team with a win but also just really just be myself and just play the way I usually play.”
Markanich’s twin brother, Nick, was signed to FC Cincinnati in the SuperDraft, making the brothers MLS rivals across conferences. Nick made his debut for FC Cincinnati in the team’s regular season opener, and has since played 98 minutes on the pitch.
“He said it's not scary at all,” Markanich said of his brother’s feedback on his first start in MLS. “It’s just playing the game, playing how you usually do and being yourself.”