After a two-year process, the Rapids announced in January that the team had signed its newest Designated Player, Younes Namli. Namli, a skilled attacking midfielder from Denmark, brings with him a unique skillset and eye for creativity that Rapids fans hope will take the team to the next level.
For Namli, joining the Rapids was well worth the wait.
“I’m really happy. It took some time to get everything sorted out,” Namli explained. “From the moment that I spoke with Padraig (Smith) and Robin (Fraser), I knew obviously that they had been looking for a couple of years, I had in my head that I wanted to come here and join the team.”
Since then, things have been moving quickly. The past two weeks, specifically, have been a wild ride for Namli.
On Monday, February 3, he came to America for the first time. He spent a few days exploring Denver, experiencing his first bout of the unpredictable Colorado weather, and taking a look at the facilities within DICK'S Sporting Goods Park that will soon become his second home.
“It’s a nice place, it’s a nice stadium, the facilities are nice,” Namli said. “The people here are really kind. I’ve had a really positive impression of the club.”
A few days later, he was off to Newport Beach, California to meet the team and begin preseason training. Since then, he’s played in three preseason matches and is quickly getting up to speed as to what head coach Robin Fraser is expecting, as well as how his new teammates work together.
“It’s a team with a lot of potential, I think that’s obvious to everybody,” Namli said. “A lot of young players, but also a lot of quality. The way the team wants to play isn’t just kick and run, they want to play football, and also entertain the fans. That’s what I like. That’s why I decided to come here.”
Namli’s skillset brings new opportunities to the table for the Rapids. He’s confident with the ball at his feet, and you can see his mind working to find the next movement at all times. His left foot and his ability in one-on-one situations are just part of what make him unique.
“He’s an interesting player because he’s a good dribbler, and when I say he’s a good dribbler I mean he can run by guys and beat guys, or he can unbalance defenders to give himself room to make passes,” Fraser said. “He’s the type of person that’s going to eliminate his player, which is going to force other players to come to him which is going to open other things up.”
As Namli describes it, the name of the game is creativity.
“I don’t want to talk too much about it. It’s best to show,” Namli said with a smile. “But I’m a technical football player. I like to assist my teammates. I like to help them score. I also can score myself. I hope I can bring some creativity to the club.”
While MLS and the U.S. are new to him, the game is definitely not. He’s been playing soccer for his entire life.
“I started playing when I was maybe two or something. I just started to play with the ball. My father gave me the ball when I could just barely walk. When I was six, I started to play for a club, and then I kept playing.”
Opportunity awaits Colorado's newest dynamic playmaker. It’s clear from this preseason that the more comfortable Namli is and the more chemistry he develops with other players, the more creative he’s able to be. That creativity should lead to plenty of memorable moments this season.