COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – At the very least, Gale Agbossoumonde looks the part.
The Colorado Rapids’ newest acquisition is big, bulky and intimidating, and he arrives at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a chance to compete for quick playing time.
The 22-year-old center back was sent to Colorado from Toronto FC last week in what turned out to be a three-way deal between Toronto, the Rapids and Chivas USA, with Marvin Chavez leaving Colorado for Los Angeles. Agbossoumonde told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday's practice that he was expecting a trade, given that TFC coach Ryan Nelsen had not given him any game action.
“I wasn’t surprised because I wasn’t playing,” Agbossoumonde said on Wednesday. “I talked to [Nelsen] a while back, and he just told me to keep training, but I wasn’t playing. I asked for a loan, but I’m happy to be here. It’s a better environment for me here.”
It might be a few weeks before Agbossoumonde, who was born in Togo but went to high school in Syracuse, N.Y., gets on the field, but he should get his chance. One of the early attractions to Colorado for him has been seeing head coach Pablo Mastroeni’s approach to giving everyone on the roster a chance to play.
“Coming here, [the Rapids had] shown interest in me, so I’m excited to be here,” said Agbossoumonde, who played with new teammates Chris Klute and Dillon Serna on US youth national teams. “I have a fair opportunity to play. Pablo goes through a rotation.”
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As for Mastroeni himself, he has shown early in his first season in charge that he is willing to give players, particularly versatile ones such as Agbossoumonde, a chance. Mastroeni wants to wait a little bit to give his new center back a look on the field, though if history is any lesson, it’s that the former US U-20 standout will get his chance.
“Great guy, great attitude, very technical player,” Mastroeni said of Agbossoumonde, who is expected to mostly play center back in Colorado but primarily played right back in Toronto this season. “He’s a guy that wants to continue getting better, and that’s all I ask of anyone on this team.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.