The Daily Wave: Young Rapids Earn Their Stripes

USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy was, as the kids like to say, a hot mess. But the game also provided a glimmer of hope in the performance of the Rapids' youngsters.

The Daily Wave is a slice of opinion from a Burgundy Wave contributor, released every weekday morning.

It's probably best to just forget about the details of Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy. For example, try and forget about the injuries to Pablo Mastroeni and Diego Calderon. You should also erase from your memory the elbow Drew Moor threw at Marcelo Sarvas, which earned Moor a red card and earned the Galaxy a penalty kick. And please also try not to think about the possession statistics, which showed the Galaxy holding the ball 63% of the time.

Amongst all those forgettable moments, there is one thing you should try not to forget about Saturday night: the events of the night forced the Rapids to turn to their youngest players, and without exception, each one committed himself with aplomb.

The starting eleven is already laced with a several young players who are showing great promise. Clint Irwin, 23, was easily the man of the match. Deshorn Brown, 22, didn't have the best night of his young Rapids career, but he still hustled for the full 90 minutes and tried to make the most of the limited chances provided to him. Kevin Harbottle, 22, also showed some glimmers against LA and is likely to steadily improve as he gets used to MLS, is played in a more natural winger role, and is supported by someone like Martin Rivero.

But these players are mostly known quantities to the average Rapids' fan. What impressed me most about Saturday was the play of the lesser known youngsters and how they stepped in to a tough situation but didn't back down from the challenge.

Chris Klute, 23, came in to the game in the 34th minute to replace an injured Calderon and despite this being his first action of the year, I didn't see the kid put a foot wrong the whole night. In addition to locking down his side of the field, he also got forward several times and showed that he could meet the objectives of a full back in Oscar Pareja's preferred 4-3-3 formation.

Shane O'Neil, 19, played the final 38 minutes of the game and was asked to help hold down a back line that had just lost its leader to a red card. Again, I thought O'Neil did admirably during his time on the field, winning a few headers and largely preventing the Galaxy from running up the score. O'Neil didn't exactly get rave reviews during the U20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament, so I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did on Saturday night. Given that O'Neil was inserted into the game after the back line had already been shuffled once and with his team playing down a man, it really drives home how impressive his work on the night was.

When a game goes as badly as Saturday night did, we're often left to look for the silver lining. From my seat on the couch, that silver lining was easily identified as the young talent the Rapids currently have and how well they acquitted themselves under challenging circumstances. The optimistic Rapids fan can only hope that these players will establish a foundation the pays dividends in the near future.

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