With a reputation for developing elite youth players through a distinct pathway to the heights of competition, Rush Soccer began in 1997 in Littleton, Colo., and now includes more than 100 partner clubs and a nationwide membership of more than 45,000 players and growing. Dozens of Rush alumni have soared to the heights of the game, including American internationals like Lindsey Horan (USWNT, Portland Thorns) and Christian Pulisic (USMNT, Chelsea FC), Mark McKenzie (USMNT, Philadelphia Union) and many others. Currently, there is a Rush Soccer club in almost every state across America and there are more than 40 International Rush Clubs based in Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe.
One of the most electrifying prospects is 19-year-old Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett. This month, the Colorado Rush alumnus was named to Major League Soccer’s 22under22 rankings and was unveiled as a finalist for the AT&T MLS Young Player of the Year Award which recognizes the top player in the league age 22 and under at the end of each season.
“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,” Bassett 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.”
With four goals and four assists in his last seven starts, Bassett ranked No. 7 in the MLS 22u22 list released last week: “He’s still just 19, but the midfielder sits near the top of his team’s goals and assists columns thanks to a sequence of impact performances after the MLS is Back Tournament, underlining his progress since last year’s No. 20 ranking in the 22 Under 22. Rapids coach Robin Fraser has hailed his advanced understanding of space and European scouts are taking notice, too.”
“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.”
Bassett, along with fellow Rush Soccer alumnus and Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie, is nominated as one of the league's top young players. Beginning this season, the Young Player of the Year award replaces the Rookie of the Year award, which previously honored the top first-year pro player in MLS. For 2020, any player born on or after Jan.1, 1998 — no matter whether they're a draft pick, an academy product or signed from abroad — is eligible for the Young Player of the Year award. Players born on or before Dec. 31, 1997 are ineligible.
“The AT&T Young Player of the Year award reflects the commitment of MLS to develop world class players by recognizing the elite young stars within our league. This honor will highlight the amazing talent developed in MLS academies, which year-after-year produce internationally coveted stars,” MLS executive VP of player relations and competition Todd Durbin said in a statement. “With our clubs increasingly signing elite young international standouts and the continued quality of players in the MLS SuperDraft, there has never been more young talent to celebrate in our league.”