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2022 Season Review: Sebastian Anderson

Anderson played 21 games across loan stints with Rapids 2 and the Switchbacks.

Syndication: El Paso Times GABY VELASQUEZ/ EL PASO TIMES / USA TODAY NETWORK

This is part of a series of individual player reviews by Joseph Samelson. You can follow him on Twitter @jspsam and read his work elsewhere at josephsamelson.com.

Role: Wing Back

2022 Squad Status: Loaned Out

Season in a Sentence: Anderson played 21 games across loan stints with Rapids 2 and the Switchbacks, but Fraser hasn’t given the homegrown much of a chance with the first team.

Grade: Incomplete

There was significant hype when the Colorado Rapids signed Sebastian Anderson as a homegrown player during the early months of the 2019 season. He was still a junior in high school when he earned his professional contract at 16, which made him the youngest signing in club history at the time.

As the youngest professional athlete in Denver with a handful of USYNT appearances to his name, Anderson made five starts and one substitute showing with the Rapids in 2019 before finishing the year with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The loan spell shortly followed his first and only career start under Robin Fraser. Anderson stayed with the USL Championship club to start 2020, but only made one appearance before undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear, which kept him sidelined until 2021. He’s been regularly starting in the lower divisions ever since, and has only made three substitute MLS appearances totaling 39 minutes since.

Anderson turned 20 in August, and shouldn’t be labeled a bust just yet. However, the Sacramento native hasn’t been able to force his way into Fraser’s side to prove he can play at the MLS level. The attacking wing back got 21 lower division games between Rapids 2 and the Switchbacks during the 2022 season, and would have gotten more had he not been sidelined with an undisclosed injury during portions of the MLS Next Pro regular season. Anderson led Rapids 2 in successful crosses (15), and finished the year with the most key passes per 90 among the club’s MLS Next Pro players (1.46). He was an all-important player during the Switchbacks’ final stretch and subsequent playoff run, but the USL side crumbled against the league’s eventual champions in the Western Conference final.

Despite holding a relatively-strong lower division resume, Anderson never factored in for the Rapids’ first team. It speaks volumes that Anderson wasn’t even an option to unseat one of Colorado’s outside backs during the MLS regular season—even Sam Nicholson appeared at that position on Decision Day. Fraser regularly opted for the safety net provided by Steven Beitashour when Esteves’ form dipped or when Rosenberry picked up a knock, leaving Anderson surplus to requirements during the season.

Looking Forward

Anderson will enter the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023, but the Rapids could bring him back for an additional year if they trigger the one-year option in his deal. His homegrown agreement is a team-friendly supplemental contract without a cap hit, but it’s hard to shake the thought that he might have hit his ceiling in the American lower leagues. While development is rarely linear, Anderson hasn’t shown substantial improvement since he burst onto the scene in 2019. If he can’t manage to out-play Nicholson at his position, then it’s hard to imagine him returning to Colorado post-2024.