For most 16-year-olds, a first day on the job might typically consist of time clocks, meeting co-workers and learning the ropes. For 16-year-old goalkeeper Abe Rodriguez, his the first day with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC consisted of a professional debut that saw him make 11 saves including one from the penalty spot in a 2-2 draw against Phoenix Rising FC. If that wasn't enough, Rodriguez's performance opened eyes across the country, earning him USL Player of the Week honors. Not a bad first day at the office.
"Coming into the game I was a little nervous but after going to preseason with the Rapids and being with top players I was pretty prepared," Rodriguez said. "I was confident going into the game that I was going to be good. I have been training well and after the first save I got a little bit of a confidence."
Rodriguez, who is from Thornton, Colorado and attends Prairie View High School is currently on a Development Academy contract with the Rapids USL affiliate.
"The way Abe handled the environment on Saturday night was very impressive," the Colorado Switchbacks FC General Manager Brian Crookham said. "He was very mature and methodical in his approach and it showed in his performance. I think we are going to see a lot of these type of performances from him as he goes through the process of becoming a pro."
The 'keeper kept Switchbacks FC in the game after making a double save in the 27th minute and denied a crucial penalty kick from Phoenix’s Solomon Asante in the 79th minute (GIF below).
"Throughout the game my teammates were motivating me," Rodriguez commented. "Then when I made the PK save they all came over and celebrated with me. That was really helpful when you have all the players like that believing in you and having all this confidence in you."
The Switchbacks are on the road this weekend to face Orange County SC on April 6 before returning to Weidner Field on Saturday, April 13th to face Reno 1868.