Homegrowns Cole Bassett, Sam Vines Leading the Way for Colorado
Two of the Colorado Rapids' youngest stars are finally getting their due.
Midfielder Cole Bassett and defender Sam Vines were named to MLS' 22 Under 22 this week, with Vines coming in at No. 13 and Bassett at No. 7. The two Homegrowns have become fixtures in head coach Robin Fraser's starting lineup this year, driving the Rapids' push for the playoffs.
Bassett, a Littleton native who turned 19 in July, has already doubled his goals and assists output from 2019, when he made 20 MLS appearances and earned the 19th spot on 22 Under 22. His four goals and four assists have all come in his last seven starts, during which the Rapids are 3-2-2.
"I just continue to work hard in the training field and once I get onto the game field, I try to just do what I've been doing," he said after scoring and picking up an assist in Colorado's 5-0 win at Real Salt Lake. "That comes through goals and assists and a lot of hard work and being the runner out of the midfield. That's what I pride myself on, and just try to out-work my opponents and bring some creativity."
Vines, meanwhile, has played every minute at left back for the Rapids in 2020 and has only missed one MLS start since June 2019. The 21-year-old from Colorado Springs set up Lalas Abubakar's equalizer in stoppage time against Houston for his first career MLS assist. He scored his first career MLS goal in his next match, getting on the end of Younes Namli's cross at the back post to make it 3-0 at Rio Tinto.
"Vinesy's a talented player and has a lot of attacking ability," Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said after the win over RSL. "We've talked a lot about his defending lately, which has gotten better, but what you saw tonight, for outside backs, if you can sniff opportunities you can certainly nip some goals at the back post. I thought Vinesy did a great job a couple times tonight getting in, had a great opportunity in the first half and then on the second one really reading what Younes was going to do and getting himself into a great position and finishing well."
The two combined for the eventual game-winner against the LA Galaxy when Vines took Namli's longball and crossed it into the box for Bassett to slam home.
They're also breaking into the U.S. national team picture, with Bassett earning a U-20 call-up in January and Vines making his USMNT senior debut in February.
It bodes well for the Rapids that Bassett and Vines have grown into their own. But they're not the only youngsters contributing to Fraser's XI.
20-year-old Argentine Braian GalvÃ¡n has a goal and assist in his last four appearances, his first substantial minutes since being joining the team on July 1. Forward Jonathan Lewis, 23, has tallied a team-leading five goals in 13 appearances this season. 22-year-old defender Auston Trusty has started three of the last five matches. And then there's Andre Shinyashiki, the 23-year-old reigning AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year, with two goals and an assist in his last three games.
All six were in the starting XI for Colorado's 5-0 win over San Jose - the second-youngest starting lineup in MLS this season.
"The young players, we just continue to put our head down and keep working, keep trying to be the energy and the focal point for our team and keep pushing forward," Bassett said. "We know that we've got a lot of goals in our careers that we want to accomplish, so we still have to keep working and go after those."
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