Zapata looking to weave way into Rapids starting lineup
After bouncing around several South American clubs for the past decade, Colombian left back Luis Zapata has finally found a home. But maybe not quite where he expected.
“Denver is very cold, lots of snow,” the Colorado Rapids’ new signing told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Saturday from the team’s training camp in Hawaii. ”But it’s very pretty, and I’m very happy to be in Denver.”
Colorado formally inked the 31-year-old on Friday after a three-week trial with the club, and the Rapids hope he can help add depth to a position of dire need for the last several seasons: left back.
Zapata impressed his countryman, Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja, during the course of the preseason with the team, and now that he’s a formal member of the club, he hopes to take the next step and impress his way into the starting lineup.
“I think I can be part of the starting 11, that’s what you’re working towards,” said Zapata, who has played in the Venezuelan, Colombian and Bolivian top flights in just the last 18 months alone. “I feel very confident in working towards it, I feel good physically and for the opportunity to play and to show my ability.”
With projected left back starter – and fellow offseason addition – Hunter Freeman sidelined most of the month due to a deep bone bruise in his foot, Zapata took advantage of the opportunity and has showcased his talents during the team's two matches in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational.
And while Zapata was able to cast a strong impression on his coaches and teammates, the impression wasn’t one-sided.
“It’s a team that’s very young but [plays] at a high level, and very sound technically,” said Zapata, who spent the majority of his career at Bogota-based club Millionarios. “With the work we’re doing, we’ll soon compete for a championship.”