If you scan through the Colorado Rapids’ roster, the name Davy Armstrong might not be the first to stick out across the page. After all, he played in just a single game in his rookie season and rarely even made the Rapids bench last year.
However, the 20-year-old midfielder out of Rangeview High School in Aurora, Colo., is more than just another player on the roster. Armstrong is the shining example of success for the hundreds of kids in the Rapids’ youth academies and the thousands of aspiring professional soccer players up and down metro Denver’s Front Range.
“I still feel pressure that I need to be a role model and show I made the right decision [in signing with the Rapids],” said Armstrong, who turned down an opportunity to play for the University of Washington, becoming the first Rapids youth academy product to sign a professional contract in August of 2010.
Armstrong appeared in only one game a year ago – a CONCACAF Champions League 3-1 win against Isidro Metapán in El Salvador – but this year he hopes to provide more of an impact for his hometown club. Armstrong said he pushed himself harder this offseason and hopes new head coach Oscar Pareja takes notice.
“I hold myself to goals, and last year’s goal was to get into at least one game,” said Armstrong, who first joined the Rapids youth academy back in 2007. “I’m expecting myself to reach that level and get into more games [this season].”
The offseason began with a significant challenge for Armstrong, the 2008 Colorado State Player of the Year. Gary Smith, the skipper who offered Armstrong his first professional contract and coached him through the first 15 months of his career, did not have his contract renewed, leading to Pareja’s arrival and pressure on the youngster to impress the new whistle-blower. And it hasn’t been easy.
“With Gary, they knew what kind of player I was and what they wanted me to become,” said Armstrong, who played in a 4-3-3 formation in high school and will do so again this year under Pareja. “You feel need to prove yourself again, and have them watch you. They don’t know what your background is and what you’re like.”
But while Armstrong fights for increased playing time and learns the ins and outs of the attack-minded 4-3-3, he’s also busy living out his dream and the dream of thousands of others hoping to maybe one day wear burgundy alongside the Colorado native.
“It’s definitely a huge challenge to try and keep getting better and keeping up with the guys,” Armstrong said. “[But] I’m really excited to see how we’ll do, how the new formation, the new coaching will work, I’m anxious to see how it’ll be put all together.”