What a difference a year made for Colin Rolfe.
A year after being touted as a top prospect for the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, an injury-plagued senior season and a crowded 2012 forward class pushed the former Hermann Trophy finalist to the bottom of the first round of last week’s SuperDraft and into the waiting arms of the MLS Cup runners-up Houston Dynamo.
Now looking to make his transition to the professional ranks, Rolfe is focused on looking forward. But his dip in stock certainly provides motivation now that he’s reached MLS.
“I’d say so,” Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com by phone Monday. “But at the same time, I’m trying not to look too much into that as much as coming in here and learning as much as I can and not take any experience for granted.”
While being pushed to the bottom of the first round does not come with the luster of being a top 10 pick, it does come with the benefit of being drafted into a good situation. Rolfe joins a Dynamo club that looks to be headed in the right direction after a successful 2011 campaign that saw them come within a game of their third MLS Cup.
Entering a stable situation like Houston is certainly a positive for a rookie looking to find his way in MLS, a league in which it is traditionally tough for first-year forwards to find minutes. While Houston has its share of experience and veterans to help Rolfe, they also have the added benefit of a wide-open forward position.
Houston currently have four forwards on the roster, including Rolfe, and with 2011 starters Brian Ching and Carlo Costly gone there could an opportunity to make an impression.
“It’s exciting to see minutes there to be had,” Rolfe said. “I think any rookie’s goal is to get as much playing time as possible. It would’ve been nice to have those guys to watch and learn from, but at the same time you can learn a lot from getting into games.”
Dynamo coaches believe Rolfe’s style of being a true No. 9 type of forward could aid in his ability to flourish Houston’s system.
“I think the coaches were spot on in what I can do because I feel comfortable with my back to goal and I like combining with other players and getting as many of them in the attack as possible,” Rolfe said.
“I’m excited to see how much I’ll learn and grow from the help of the coaches and players and being put in this type of environment,” he added. “Now I’m going to make my way to Houston and make the most of it and start fresh.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.