By Patrick Shea

The level of play rose for the second day of the Colorado Rapids Tryout Combine at the Foothills Sports Arena, and Senior Director of Soccer Development Brian Crookham said the event “served its purpose well.”

Players showed more confidence in themselves and their trialist teammates as the 11v11 games revealed more risk-taking, better decision-making, and higher skill.

“We’re trying to do our due diligence,” Crookham said, “and these were players we didn’t get to see in college or in their natural environment.”

But was the quality high enough?

“There was a varied level among the players,” Crookham explained, “but in the end we feel like we found a few guys we’d likely want to see at preseason.”

In the meantime, a number of moving parts need to fit together. “We have to look at our roster. We have to look at the Combine, and we have to look at everything that’s going to come together in the next 10 days to make a couple final determinations. Players were very professional today. Because of that, we’re confident that between the setups in Denver and Charlotte, we’d like to bring some of these players in.”

Head coach Pablo Mastroeni had his eye on the action for both days of the tryout, along with Steve Cooke, Jamie Smith, and Chris Sharpe. Unlike last year, the coaching staff can make critical decisions today that will prove right or wrong for a playoff run eight months from now. They’re getting plenty of practice.

Crookham said they had a “very high-quality combine in Charlotte in the second week of December. Then we saw this today, and on Thursday we’re heading to the Combine in Fort Lauderdale. Because we’ve had more chances to operate as a staff, we’re now capable of looking through the same lens.”

Head coach Mike Jeffries and his staff from Charlotte will help with the Rapids preseason training in Colorado, Las Vegas, and Tucson because the Charlotte Independence preseason will follow about a month later. Theoretically, a player selected from this week’s local tryout could go through both preseasons.

After the session concluded, Cooke told the players, “We have found that players who go through a Combine do well when they come to preseason.”

Regardless of a player’s success or failure this week, Cooke urged them to “make sure you use this as a springboard to be successful in your life.”

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