“I'm a product of my environment. I work hard and I know that it will pay off in the end.”
That’s how Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Steward Ceus profiles himself on his Twitter account and, at least on Tuesday night, his conviction paid off. In the cauldron of the Estadio Francisco Morazón in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Ceus got just his second-ever start with the first team in a 1-1 tie against Real España in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Ceus stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 205 pounds. It’s fair to say he’s big, and the big man came up big in Honduras.
“I thought he was immense,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith said of Ceus. “He’s a man-mountain who’s starting to really show the sort of qualities that we all knew he had.”
Ceus pulled off a huge save in the 37th minute when Real España forward Allan Lalín was through on goal. The save proved to be a game-changer. Nine minutes later, Jeff Larentowicz struck in stoppage time to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
“That save gave us a very good foundation to move on from,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “Everyone will have forgotten about it because of the second half, but, if we go behind there, suddenly the crowd are behind [Real España] and we are really swimming uphill.”
Ceus had to deal with incredible pressure in the second 45 minutes as the home team predictably upped the ante in search of an equalizer. It eventually came in the 88th minute and the Haitian international had to pull off another big save in stoppage time to deny the home team all three points.
“It was probably the most crosses I’ve faced in a long time," Ceus told ColoradoRapids.com after the game. "They were coming in waves and I just tried to get myself in good positions to take the crosses and make some saves.”
Central defender Scott Palguta played the first 70 minutes of the game in front of Ceus before having to abandon the match with a cramp in his hamstring.
“I thought he did great,” Palguta told MLSsoccer.com last night. “He’s a pretty confident guy, he’s got a lot of talent and he did a great job.”
Ceus, Palguta and the rest of the Rapids team started their marathon journey back to Colorado at 4:30 am local time in Honduras on Wednesday morning. Despite the quick turnaround, Ceus had enough time to take to Twitter and express his appreciation for the people who, like him, believed that it would all pay off in the end.
“Thank you all for the support!!” Ceus tweeted. “It was a great result on the road and in a hostile environment.”