COMMERCE CITY, Colo - Rapids 2 Head Coach Erik Bushey has been named the MLS NEXT Pro Coach of the Year, the league announced today. All awards were voted on by the head coaches and chief soccer officers at MLS NEXT Pro Clubs, as well as League broadcast and content teams.
“While the competitive results speak for themselves, we are most proud of the fact that Erik and his staff have been able to get the most out of each player on the roster,” said Brian Crookham, Rapids 2 General Manager. “He manages a high-performance environment that has been able to nurture the development of young players while maintaining an incredibly high standard throughout the team. It is clear that each day our players become better prepared for the demands they face in their professional careers. We are proud to have Erik and his staff represent the club.”
Bushey was named Rapids 2 head coach ahead of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season in 2022. During the team’s first year, Rapids 2 finished the regular season with 7-11-6 record, falling short of a spot in the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs.
Now in their second year, Rapids 2 kicked off the 2023 season with a 12-game unbeaten run that marked the second-longest unbeaten streak in MLS NEXT Pro history. From there, the team surged to the top of the standings, ending the regular season with a 19-4-5 record, a Frontier Division Title and a No.1 seed in both the Western Conference and the league overall. As the top team in MLS NEXT Pro, Bushey’s team earned the right to a home-field advantage throughout the entirety of playoffs and MLS NEXT Pro Cup if the team were to advance to the final. Additionally, Bushey’s team finished the season as the league’s highest-scoring and assist-producing side with 70 goals and 51 assists.
The Washington native is a long-standing member of the Rapids organization, having joined the club in 2017 as the assistant coach for the Rapids U-23 Premier Development League team. Just a year later, he was named head coach and led the team to a first-place Mountain Division finish.
In addition to his time with the U-23 team, Bushey previously served as head coach of the club’s U-17 and U-19 teams, working with several players who have gone on to sign Homegrown Player contracts with the first team and represent the U.S. Men’s National Team, such as Sam Vines and Cole Bassett.
Bushey’s coaching career spans over 25 years, during which he has directed club teams to five national championships, directed two Development Academy teams to top-eight finishes nationally, and in his club experience, has helped the development of over 40 national team players and over 20 professional players. Bushey holds a USSF “A” License, NSCAA National Diploma and the Academy Director’s License.