Hill acclimates quickly in dream debut for Colorado

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Last Friday afternoon, Colorado Rapids newcomer Kamani Hill didn’t even expect to be on the bench for Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

But Hill (above, right) made the bench for the contest at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park just two days after signing with the club, and made an immediate impact just 10 minutes into his MLS debut by scoring his first-ever professional goal.

GOAL: Hill grabs debut goal

“[It’s been] a good whirlwind,” the former VfL Wolfsburg player told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m trying to take it in stride and hopefully use it to focus and stay motivated and keep working harder in the weeks to come, because it’s a long season.”

In the second minute of injury time on Sunday, the versatile attacker drilled a powerful shot that forced Fire ‘keeper Paolo Tornaghi to make a save, but the ball found it's way back to Hill, who was on hand to coolly dispatch the rebound.

The Bay Area native recently returned to the United States after nearly six years of playing in Germany and Portugal. While Hill cited returning home as a primary reason for signing with the Rapids last week, playing at Colorado’s mile-high altitude presented a different type of challenge for the 26-year-old than the ones he experienced overseas.

“Being in the altitude, I was out of breath,” Hill admitted. “Sometimes coming from stop to full speed is harder than getting in the rhythm of the game, so it was like one-to-two full sprints and I was [tired].”

Despite the weight of the altitude, the UCLA product impressed in his debut Sunday after spending the last three seasons at Portugal’s Vitória. With his dream start in mind, Hill also hinted post-game that he might be sticking around Colorado for a little while.

“I haven’t had that feeling at any team I’ve signed for yet,” Hill said. “I’m ecstatic.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.