COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When he was acquired from the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks on September 14, defender Chris Klute wasn’t expected to factor into the Colorado Rapids’ final six games of the season.
But on Saturday night in the Rapids’ 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo Klute made his MLS debut, starting at left back, playing all 90 minutes, and drawing rave reviews from his teammates and coaches post-game.
“I thought he was one of the best players on the field,” fellow defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com post-game of Klute’s debut. “He was doing all the right things. That’s positive to see. Hopefully he can remain confident.”
Klute battled nerves to nearly record an assist in his debut. In the 77th minute, the 22-year-old crossed for Martin Rivero, and Rivero’s shot was spectacularly saved by Dynamo ‘keeper Tyler Deric. But Andre Akpan followed Deric’s save to record an easy goal.
So Klute didn’t get onto the scoresheet, but that’s the kind of overlapping play that head coach Oscar Pareja wants to see from his fullbacks.
“At the beginning of the game, we wanted him to gain confidence. I told him ‘Chris, I want you to be a good defender first, and the game is going to dictate to you when to start going up,’” Pareja said post-game. “And he did well in that part. The game went on, and he kept going [forward]. He showed personality today.”
He also showed speed and physicality. But most importantly, Klute avoided making any critical errors and was able to contribute offensively while performing his defensive responsibilities as well.
“I was nervous and I didn’t want to use all my energy early on in the game,” Klute told MLSsoccer.com about his debut post-game. “It was my first game so I didn’t know what to expect.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.