After an eventful week, the Rapids are focused full speed ahead on Sunday’s match against Real Salt Lake. This week at training had the team moving down to the MLS is Back bubble and adjusting to a new routine. It also saw a new player join the fold and had the competition heating up.
Here are three takeaways from this week of team training.
1. After a Crazy Start to the Week – Things Are Back on Track
On Sunday, the Rapids were set to leave for Orlando until they received notice that there were two presumptive positive tests from the team’s traveling contingent. The two presumptive positive members of the club staff were then tested two additional times, which both received negative results. The rest of the travel contingent then departed on Monday, with the two other members leaving on Tuesday.
While this was a rocky start to the team’s stint in Orlando, the tests being false positives is the most important thing. The entire team is now settled down in the bubble and is glad that they were able to do so safely.
“I think they’re excited to be playing,” head coach Robin Fraser said. “We’ve only been playing against each other for a couple of months now. I think they’re excited to get here and actually be in real competition… Any opportunity to play is an opportunity to play well.”
2. Nicolas Benezet and William Yarbrough Shine in Training
Benezet and Yarbrough are two players who have been a part of the team for months but have yet to make their respective debuts. Benezet suffered a broken nose during a preseason match that kept him from the lineup in the first two games, and Yarbrough joined the team on March 6, the day before the club’s second match and less than a week before the MLS season suspension began.
Rapids fans are no doubt eager to see these two on the pitch. Benezet proved electric in his for Toronto FC last season, playing a significant role in the team’s trip to MLS Cup. He's looked strong in training, showing off his creativity and his chemistry with designated player Younes Namli.
Yarbrough is looking to not only make his Rapids debut but his MLS debut as well. He comes from Liga MX, where he had a legendary run – playing 198 matches with 48 shutouts and 2 league titles in the trophy case for La Fiera. Those kind of numbers show he’s a proven competitor that's not looking to simply sit on the sidelines.
The battle for the starting spot in goal has become extremely competitive between Yarborugh and the Rapids starter from the first two matches, Clint Irwin. Yarbrough has quickly appeared comfortable and confident and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod on Sunday and beyond.
This ongoing competition leaves the Rapids in a great position. The MLS is Back tournament will be difficult on players, with matches played in quick succession and hot temperatures to be expected at all hours. Regardless of the starting lineup for the first match, both ‘keepers will likely be featured and the team's overall depth will no doubt come into play.
3. Welcome to the Team, Braian Galván!
Galván’s skills were evident as the creative player joined training for the first time this week. He’s only 19-years-old and has already been showing off his foot skills and quick bursts of speed while dribbling at defenders.
“He’s an energetic young player who is clearly talented and understands how to move around the field,” Fraser said. “His positioning is good, he’s a dynamic player who I really think is going to add something to us.”
Galvan is light on his feet and his energy will be something that other clubs can’t ignore. He looks as though he has not missed a beat from the technical side while quarantining in Argentina prior to his arrival. It remains to be seen if he will contribute during this tournament, but, regardless, him getting acclimated to the team and adjusting to Fraser’s vision and style of play will be crucial to his success down the road.
The excitement around him joining the team was mutual.
“To be honest I’m really excited and happy to be here,” Galvan said via translator. “I’m just anxious to play in this tournament… The truth is I came to win this tournament. I’m always very competitive and aim to win every game I play. I just want to give this team my all and show the very best of me.”