Squad Status: Injured
Season in a Sentence: Travis underwent season-ending surgery to repair a core muscle after playing in seven matches for Rapids 2.
The Colorado Rapids’ sole academy signing of the 2022 season had an inauspicious start to his professional career.
Mississippi native Jackson Travis originally moved to Colorado in late 2020 to join the Rapids Academy. He quickly made a name for himself the following season, and was an important cog in the U-17s’ run to the quarterfinals of the MLS Next Cup in 2021. That led to the young left back earning a series of training appearances with the first team late in the year, and Travis capped off his impressive season by taking home the club’s annual Academy Player of the Year award. He officially signed a first team homegrown contract right at the onset of the 2022 MLS season, but the club quickly sent the 18-year-old down to Rapids 2 for meaningful playing time.
Like most of R2’s players in 2022, Travis struggled to make a decisive impact at the lower levels. He was rarely first choice for manager Erik Bushey for the reserve team’s friendlies and the opening months of the inaugural MLS Next Pro season. Travis’ first appearances with the side came as a substitute in late in matches where R2 was already trailing by multiple goals.
But minutes opened up for the homegrown when starting outside backs Sebastian Anderson and Dillon Serna sustained injuries early in the season, and Travis took his chance with aplomb. He was a force to be reckoned with during his first start against Portland Timbers 2, and the youngster assisted two goals as R2 won their first match of the year. As a left back, Travis fulfilled the athletic attacker role that supporters have come to expect from the senior team’s tactics. His crossing and passing were on point during the match, and his assists were well deserved.
That May 1 outing at the University of Denver proved to be Travis’ high point of the season. Along with most of R2, the homegrown struggled defensively during the rest of the month of May. Rapids 2 got outscored 16-2 in their next four matches, and Travis played more than 70 minutes in each game. That stretch also included the team’s worst defeat of the year—a 7-1 drubbing to San Jose Earthquakes II.
Travis disappeared from the reserve team’s lineups after May 29, and the Rapids listed the youngster as either questionable or out with an undisclosed injury for most of the summer’s matches. In early August, the team confirmed that Travis underwent successful—but season-ending—surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
Thanks to his season-ending injury, there’s not enough data at the MLS Next Pro level to make any judgments on Travis’ quality or potential as a professional. The 18-year-old did show his class in one game of the year, but he played less than 500 competitive minutes before succumbing to the injury bug that plagued Colorado in 2022. Considering the club’s decision to pass on buying Lucas Esteves, the Rapids would certainly love it if Travis could work his way into the left back conversation. However, it’s far more likely that the homegrown spends the next one or two seasons playing lower division ball.
Travis signed a four-year homegrown deal that will keep him on Colorado’s books through the 2025 season, and the club will retain options to keep him around for 2026 and 2027. He earned the reserve minimum base salary ($65,500) last year, and any expectations should be held in check for the foreseeable future.
He’s still one-to-watch for the future, but his best case scenario for 2023 will depend heavily on his recovery.