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Cole Bassett thrives in Colorado Rapids return | The Pathway

Confidence has never really been an issue for Cole Bassett.

When he was younger, he knew he would become a professional soccer player. What was unclear was the path to get there.

It didn’t take much time, as he joined the Colorado Rapids Academy in 2017 and signed a homegrown contract with the first team just a year later.

“Back then, there weren't as many young kids coming through as there are nowadays. I kept thinking the path was to move to Europe at a young age like [Christian] Pulisic did,” Bassett told

But the experience the now-22-year-old attacking midfielder gained through Colorado’s development system helped build unwavering confidence.

It provided a platform for Bassett to showcase his maturity as a teenager, and he didn’t relinquish a spot once he locked it down.

“I put in a lot of work behind the scenes that people don't see. And one of my favorite things is self-belief,” Bassett said. “Once I get onto the field, I've been through so many situations, but it's not something that I haven't seen before.”

Another major part of Bassett’s evolution was having coach Erik Bushey, who is now at the helm of Colorado Rapids 2 in MLS NEXT Pro, be there every step of the way since he was 11. From cutting Bassett at the U-14 level with the Colorado Rush to bringing him into the Rapids system, Bushey has been a pillar.

Since signing his contract with the Rapids in 2018, the Colorado native has flourished. He experienced a breakout campaign in 2020 when he finished as the team’s leader with five goals and five assists, landing him the No. 7 spot on that year’s 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list.

Bassett also played a crucial role in 2021 when the Rapids finished No. 1 in the Western Conference, their best-ever regular season.

“I was quite lucky when I came into the league; it’s nowhere near the quality it is now,” Bassett admitted. “So I was able to start within almost a month of signing, which is kind of unheard of back then. It was easier for me to integrate into the team, then obviously my level continued to rise, and now I'm a regular here.”

The European Dream

Bassett’s dream of going overseas as a young teen quickly halted when he realized he didn’t have a European passport and his parents wouldn’t move across the pond. At one point, he even trained with Arsenal's youth teams.

Yet clubs started noticing him as he rose through the ranks in Colorado, eventually joining Dutch club Feyenoord on loan in 2022. He was one of several players departing from Colorado's historic team.

Bassett made a few appearances for Feyenoord before he was sent to another Eredivisie side, Fortuna Sittard. Neither stop panned out exactly how Bassett envisioned, but provided a necessary learning experience.

“I think it was the right step, but if you look at our team, we had a lot of good guys,” Bassett said of his time at Feyenoord. “The competition was tough and ultimately I didn’t play enough.”

Returning home

Bassett was recalled from his loan and returned to the Rapids, wiser and even more motivated than before. The way he looks at it, the stint in Europe helped him come back stateside with a hunger to prove himself at a high level.

In 2023, Bassett scored a career-high six goals on a struggling Rapids team that finished last in the West. This year, however, a resurgence is unfolding in Colorado under new head coach Chris Armas – and the midfielder is shining.

“He's exceeded all my expectations of what I thought we're going to be as a team, and I think the best thing is he just pushes the standards every single day,” Bassett, who has already scored four goals this season, said of Armas.

A few weeks ago, Bassett hit a milestone when he surpassed Dillon Serna for the most regular-season appearances by a homegrown player in club history (now 109).

“Chris has given me a lot of confidence and I think you can see that on the field,” he added. “I feel like I'm playing some of my best football that I have so far in my career.”

Eyeing Paris

Ironically, Bassett could be back in Europe as early as this summer. The circumstances would be much different this time around, as it would be with Team USA at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

If Bassett makes the 18-man roster, he would showcase his talent at a top level – potentially in the July 24 opener vs. host nation France.

“I don't think we're a nation where we could go into tournaments anymore just looking to show ourselves. I think we need the expectations of going in and winning stuff, trophies and prizes,” said Bassett, who scored on his USMNT debut vs. Bosnia in December 2021.

Bassett knows that’s out of his hands for now. All he can continue to do is be at his best for the Rapids and watch things play out, shining alongside fellow homegrowns Sam Vines, Oliver Larraz and Darren Yapi.

“I want to make sure that Colorado gets the respect it deserves, and I'm sure the other homegrowns do as well,” Bassett said. “We have a lot of young guys here that are hungry and pushing. For me, I'd rather just do my talking on the field.”