Where are they now - Wes Hart

Where are they now? Wes Hart

MLS has witnessed a great deal of change since launching in 1996. The standard of soccer has soared. Passionate, knowledgeable supporters now cheer their teams on from inside soccer-specific stadiums, and the league is continuing to expand.

But as we look forward to a bright and healthy future, let’s not forget those who have gone before. And so, it is with this in mind, that we begin our series of ‘Where are they now?’

Feature interviews will appear on ColoradoRapids.com with some of your favorite former players. We will hear of their MLS memories, and how they’ve spent their time since leaving the Rapids.

Wes Hart was born in Hollister, California but grew up in Littleton, Colorado and so when the Rapids snapped him up seventh overall from the MLS SuperDraft in 2000, it was a homecoming for the much sought-after defender.

“I was very excited to be back home,” Hart told ColoradoRapids.com. “I’d left and gone to two different colleges, the University of Wisconsin in Madison and then transferred to the University of Washington out in Seattle.

“To get my first shot in MLS, with my home club and to have my family and friends around, was a pretty cool deal.”

Hart spent four seasons with the Rapids, from 2000-03, playing in 78 games and scoring the two goals, and it was his maiden MLS goal which lingers long in his memory.

“I started my first year on injured reserve, as I had some knee tendonitis, so I didn’t make any appearances until the summertime,” Hart said. “My first start for the Rapids, we played Kansas City (August 26, 2000) and I scored my first goal as we tied the game 1-1.”

During his spell with the Rapids, Hart played alongside the likes of Mark Chung, John Spencer, Carlos Valderrama, Marcelo Balboa, Paul Bravo, Kyle Beckerman and Pablo Mastroeni.

“Certainly playing alongside Carlos Valderrama was pretty special,” Hart added. “His vision, his passing and the quality he brought to the game was pretty cool.

“Pablo Mastroeni was probably one of the best leaders I’ve seen on the field. He’s about as intense as you can get.

“And then there was Robin Fraser, who actually coached my brother growing up. I knew him fairly well and he was like another coach out on the soccer field, very intelligent.”

Fans of MLS will be aware of just how far the league has travelled, but Hart recalls with fondness the state of play when he first started in 2000.

“When I was first with the Rapids, we trained on a city-owned field, and our locker room was inside a city-owned building.

“And then when I went to San Jose Earthquakes (2004-05), where our locker room was a temporary building, so the league has come a long way.”

As well as being a quality soccer player, Wes Hart was also a handy wrestler, and actually qualified for the state tournament. But, as he admits, he was no match for one of his Rapids teammates.

“It’s a great sport and Kyle Beckerman, who’s obviously had a wonderful career, was a heck of a wrestler. We’d talk about wrestling all the time. I think he was a state champion, or pretty close to it.”

Hart, now aged 36, has a young son, and has recently moved away from Colorado for a third time. He retired from playing in 2005, when released by the Quakes, after which he spent eight years with Colorado Rush Youth Soccer Club.

“Not a day goes by when I don’t miss playing or wondering ‘what if,’ but at the same time, I felt I had a decent run. I was able to play six years and probably appeared in close to 100 games.”

Since early in 2013, Hart has been assistant coach with the women’s soccer team at Florida State University, but ambition continues to burn inside this lad from Littleton.

“I’ve still got so much to learn but at the same time, my ultimate goal would be to become a head coach somewhere. Whether that’s a year from now, three years from now or five years, whenever it happens, that’s what my goal is.”

YEAR  TEAM             GP  GS   MIN    G   A SHT SOG  FC  FS OFF  CK  C  E
2000  Colorado          7   4   480    2   0   8   4  14  17   4   0  1  0
2001  Colorado          5   2   178    0   1   1   0   6   7   2   1  1  0
2002  Colorado         27  25  2063    0   2  18   6  54  27   4   0  7  0
2003  Colorado         29  29  2623    0   2  12   4  34  40   1   0  5  0
2004  San Jose         18  13  1180    0   0   1   0  23   8   1   0  3  0
2005  San Jose          7   1   178    0   0   0   0   2   2   0   0  0  0
      Totals           93  74  6702    2   5  40  14 133 101  12   1 17  0

2000  Colorado          3   1    83    0   0   2   0   5   1   3   0  1  0
2002  Colorado          5   4   349    0   0   0   0   7   6   0   0  0  0
2003  Colorado          2   2   109    0   0   0   0   1   2   0   0  0  0
      Totals           10   7   541    0   0   2   0  13   9   3   0  1  0