clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 Season Review: Auston Trusty

The defender had an up-and-down time with the Rapids during his half-season loan back to the club.

John Babiak

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: Central Defender

Squad Status: Departed

Season in a Sentence: Trusty parlayed an impressive 2021 campaign into a transfer to Arsenal, but the defender had an up-and-down time with the Rapids during his half-season loan back to the club.

Grade: C-

Auston Trusty’s off-season transfer to Arsenal FC from the Colorado Rapids was one of the club’s biggest storylines of 2022. The dominant center back had just put in a Defender of the Year-worthy season in 2021 and was one of the team’s best contributors as Colorado topped the Western Conference, but few saw the transfer coming so quickly.

While the move kept Trusty in Colorado on loan through mid-July, the sale marked yet another significant departure from the team’s core cast in 2021—a key reason behind the team’s overall regression during the ensuing year. The club had already dealt Sam Vines, Kellyn Acosta, and Cole Bassett away for the 2022 season, and Trusty leaving created an additional wrinkle that further tilted the balance of the club’s season away from the playoff line.

Trusty started the year about as well as any other of the club’s defenders. After a not-so-impressive Champions League shift against Comunicaciones and a poor start to the regular season in California, Trusty put in his fair share of solid outings. He was instrumental at the back to help the club to five shutouts against Atlanta United, Sporting KC, Charlotte FC, Portland Timbers, and Los Angeles FC, but his performances started to decline after Colorado’s reverse fixture against Sporting.

Following his ejection during the Red Card Wedding in Kansas, Trusty delivered a turnover-laden performance against Nashville SC when he returned from suspension two weeks later. The defender was heavily outclassed by the league’s MVP during the loss that snapped the Rapids’ home unbeaten streak, and his form didn’t improve after the international break in mid-June.

With the club’s playoff hopes already on the ropes, Trusty’s defensive lapses arguably cost the club critical points in consecutive Western Conference matches against Portland and Austin. Colorado initially announced that the latter would be the defender’s final “home” match ahead of his move across the Atlantic, but the game was his final appearance in Burgundy altogether before he joined Birmingham City on loan.

Defensive actions aren’t everything, but Trusty showed some statistical decline in key areas during his 1,439 MLS minutes. His tackles (1.82 → 1.44 per 90) and interceptions (1.79 → 1.31 per 90) dropped enough to be noticeable, and he also didn’t demonstrate the same level of aerial ability (2.21 → 1.88 aerials won per 90) in 2022. His pass accuracy fell (85.2% → 81.8%), and he recorded about one fewer progressive pass per 90 (2.91 → 2.06) than his 2021 standard. He didn’t score even when Jack Price was healthy enough to dish set pieces, and his 0.8 xG implies that fans could have justifiably expected at least one.

Trusty’s final weeks in Colorado really soured his reputation among many supporters, some of whom already felt that the Pennsylvania native was phoning it in with a European move already locked-in. The dissenters’ views were further cemented when Trusty hit the ground running by delivering a string of exceptional shifts on loan with Birmingham City. The defender earned multiple Team of the Week honors in the Championship as a result of his play, and he’s since become a locked-in starter for his new club.

Looking Forward

Colorado truly struggled to replace one of their best defenders from 2021. The club spent a combined $450,000 in real dollars and a minimum $1.1 million in allocation money to secure two potential replacements for Trusty during the Primary Transfer Window. The first, Aboubacar Keita, suffered a season-ending injury during preseason and never played a minute of the regular season. The second, Gustavo Vallecilla, spent more minutes with the reserves (586) than in MLS (567).

Despite Trusty’s late hiccups, some of the club’s best defensive showings in 2022 came when the Union homegrown lined up next to Lalas Abubakar and Danny Wilson. When Trusty departed for England, central defensive depth became a critical weakness for the club immediately. With Keita sidelined and Vallecilla struggling, Robin Fraser began experimenting with Keegan Rosenberry as a central defender in a back three. The manager also tried some four-at-the-back tactics during the heat of the regular season, but couldn’t really nail down a satisfactory back line regardless of shape or personnel.

If Keita recovers well or Vallecilla shows a resurgence during his sophomore year, the club’s defense could begin to show signs of improvement. Maybe Moise Bombito comes out swinging during preseason, or Costa Rican starlet Daniel Chacón has a great year with the reserves. If all four flop, the club might end up feeling the sting of Trusty’s absence for yet another season.

Stats via FBref.