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Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett trying to stay in shape to compete for a starting spot once MLS resumes

“I’ve just got to stay mentally and physically fit so that when we come back I can try to earn that spot from the start.”

Colorado Rapids v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

The Colorado Rapids are no different from us fans when it comes down to the effects of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Unlike some of us, however, team sports are not exactly an easy profession to “work” from home. Like his teammates, midfielder Cole Bassett is taking it in stride—but also working to be ready to hit the ground running once the MLS training moratorium is lifted and it’s game on!

“It’s a bit tough going away from training because I felt like I was starting to get into a rhythm of at least getting close to getting on the field the first time this year,” Cole told Burgundy Wave. “I’ve just got to stay mentally and physically fit so that when we come back I can try to earn that spot from the start.”

These are uncharted waters for all of us and Rapids players miss their routines, co-workers, and jobs like many of us do. “There’s a lot of things you miss, just simple things you normally don’t think about, especially just being around the guys every day – the locker room aspect of it,” Bassett said. “Just the daily banter in the locker room and seeing the guys every day, and also getting out competitively as a team and trying to earn a spot for the game that weekend. I think that’s what I miss most—the competitiveness and trying to prepare for the games.”

“Every single day—especially this year with this team—it’s a battle every single day in training. Nobody’s guaranteed a starting spot this year, so much depth in the team you have to battle for your spot every single day. It’s making us better as a team,” he explained.

The players and coaches are doing as much as they can to keep themselves engaged both mentally and physically, according to Bassett, even coming up with some interesting job-related homework from time to time, saying when they do connect, “We have different types of Zoom meetings. I’ve had a couple one-on-one sessions with the coaches that go over video on myself completely.”

“Besides that, we used to have a team cooking class Zoom on Mondays,” he said. “I like it, personally, but it kind of fell out a bit because most people know how to cook a bit so they just wanted to spend time with their family. We have a yoga Zoom at 11 every Wednesday, and then we have two lifts a week that we hop on.”

The busy weeks wrap up with some online analysis and each player taking a lead role in breaking down the game. “Thursdays and Fridays we go over games from the Premier League and we do homework on it, edit some of the videos and show clips, then present it to everybody in groups positionally. I’m in the midfielders, so all of us get together with the coaches and discuss how we’re seeing the games so we can stay mentally sharp. It’s good to hear everybody’s voices and talk about the game and good to see how certain teams play similar to us and how we want to try and emulate some of the things they do in our game.”

“It’s good to actually watch the game from a different perspective. Instead of as a fan of the English games we’re actually analyzing them like a coach would.” Cole, a notorious Arsenal fan, admits it’s a bit tougher watching the side he supports in the film sessions. “I’m not watching how they move the ball, and what little movements they do, and how they trigger certain presses, but I’m just watching to see if they win and play good.”

Other than team-related activities, Netflix is a common distraction for many, and Cole has taken some suggestions of others to expand his viewing habits these last six weeks. “Rev Brad Kenney (Team Chaplain) told me to look at Benny Feilhaber’s podcast, but besides that, the Netflix shows I’m watching are Prison Break and Ozark right now. My brother’s been telling me to watch Outer Banks and All-American so I kind of have to get to that stuff.”

The Colorado homegrown has also taken advantage of being with his family while kept away from the training ground at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, even recruiting his siblings to help him on some individual work. “First and foremost, I want to be a goal-scoring midfielder. Right now, the one thing that has helped me a lot is every single day I’ve been going to the high school and doing finishing with my brother.”

Cole is hoping that finishing serves him well as he says he’s working hard to take the next step within the Rapids. “When I get back, if you’re scoring goals, it’s hard for the coach to take you out of the lineup. For me, I want to come back and start to put up higher numbers than I have in the past. And on the defensive side of things, I’m obviously on the skinnier side and not fully developed yet as I’m still 18, but I need to be more of a presence in there defensively so those are the two main things I’m looking for when I come back.”

He knows, though, that Colorado’s midfield is crowded with both numbers and talent, but Bassett plays wise beyond his years and is willing to take a learning role as well as not be complacent where he is. “Obviously Younes (Namli) has brought a lot of quality to the team, Kellyn (Acosta) and (Jack) Pricey also are good players, Nico Mezquida as well, so those are the five that battle for spots in the midfield.”

“It’s tough during the week because those guys have a lot of experience. They’re good on the ball and solid defensively as well. I’m trying to learn stuff from them, but also trying to beat em out,” said the improving teenager. “I can’t really be the kid on the field out there anymore, even though I’m the youngest in the group that’s still at the facility, I can’t really act like that. I want to step up and take some leadership now.”

Now that he has time, Cole tries to get into some things outside of his career to keep things interesting, especially with the nice weather becoming more frequent. “I have liked golf and would say it’s my hobby outside of soccer. I haven’t gotten to go in a while because of how busy we’ve been, but I’ll get out a couple times this week so it’s just good and be outside and walk the course and play a different game than soccer.”

“I’m still not good at all, but I have to learn that still,” he said, laughing at his recent scores. “I just want to get to the point when I can sit back after 18 holes and think I played decent today, which for me is 90s—I just don’t want to be in the 100s, which is what I’ve been shooting lately.”