Jonathan Lewis returned to the Colorado Rapids last Saturday, fresh off a stint with the USMNT on their run to the Gold Cup Final, and has immediately made an impact. With his recent experience playing for USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s side and seeing a high level of competition every day with teammates from all over the globe, Lewis is looking back on his stint positively despite an injury limiting his minutes.
“All the sessions were very intense. Gregg is a very demanding coach,” Lewis explained to Burgundy Wave. “All the trainings, the reserve guys, the starting eleven, it doesn’t matter. The trainings were very hard.”
“I realize that everything is timing,” he continued. “I went into the national team on a good run of form then got injured. But I also know that I went there and got experience being in a Gold Cup final, experience with being with the best players in the country – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie – so just being there being part of the group instills confidence that I just have to keep working.”
Almost like a new, mid-season signing for the Rapids, Lewis is another weapon available as Colorado continues its turnaround in 2019. Playing in just five matches for Colorado so far, Lewis already has three goals, including one last weekend on the road in Portland.
Lewis likes what he saw from his teammates while he was away with the national team. “There’s confidence in the team. We got results while I was away,” he said. “Went to Portland and got a hard-fought road win, which we should have won, we put them under a lot of pressure.”
Lewis believes confidence is trickling down throughout the entire franchise thanks to the Front Office’s mid-season moves and roster adjustment. “I would say some of the moves the team’s making, the management has instilled confidence into the group, obviously shown that they’re committed to making a run so they’ve brought in some pieces,” the speedy winger told Burgundy Wave. “[Rapids Interim Head Coach] Conor’s [Casey] done a fantastic job coaching us up. I think that just instilled the confidence and we’ve started to get results. A lot of us here we know we’re good players so we have confidence in ourselves.”
It’s the kind of confidence that comes from just one loss in their last nine MLS matches. Lewis likes the momentum Colorado has going and says the team is still focused on the post-season due to their recent quality. “Just trying to make that playoff push. We’re close right now, I think we’re seven points off the playoff line, so I think we can make those numbers up. We just have to take it one step at a time. They’re all important.”
This weekend’s match is doubly important to Jonathan as Colorado welcomes his old team, NYCFC, to Commerce City. Players always say they love to prove their former employer’s wrong, but Lewis is honest about his former teammates and their talent. “They’re a good team,” he said bluntly. “Obviously that’s my former team, and they’re a very quality team. As you saw, they just played [New York] Red Bulls and they just got outworked. They’re a very good team, technical, can play football, so we’ve just got to outwork them.”