The Call Up

Colorado's Cole Bassett talks USMNT ambitions, following Brenden Aaronson's path

Cole Bassett – Colorado Rapids – up close

Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett has kept tabs on Brenden Aaronson’s rise over the past year, hoping to one day follow in the former Philadelphia Union standout’s footsteps.

Discussing his ambitions on the latest episode of The Call Up, Bassett identified the now-Red Bull Salzburg standout as someone whose career trajectory he hopes to emulate. During his first season with the Austrian club, Aaronson won the double (league and cup) while playing under American boss Jesse Marsch before his departure to lead Bundesliga title chasers RB Leipzig.

Preceding all that, the 20-year-old went from Philadelphia's homegrown ranks to a reported $6 million transfer that could rise yet further. Aaronson is also becoming an important part of the US men’s national team under Gregg Berhalter.

“I’ve known him for a while and I just feel like we’re pretty similar,” Bassett said. “He’s probably got a bit more dynamism and he’s good on the dribble. But I think for me, playing in a similar position and going over to a system that fits him with an American coach and doing really well in the league and now he’s in the national team and looks to be a key player for them, I think that’s kind of who I look at. Maybe it’s somewhere I want to follow a bit, but also I want to create my own path and I don’t want to do exactly what he’s doing.”

Now in his fourth MLS season, Bassett has 10 goals and eight assists in 47 regular-season games with Colorado. The 19-year-old signed in 2018 as a homegrown player and overseas transfer speculation has swiftly followed, including a training stint with Arsenal's U-23 side two offseasons ago.

Bassett’s aspirations reach the international arena, too, where he hopes to become a greater USMNT fixture. He was called up to a December 2020 match against El Salvador, though awaits his senior-team debut. This summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup tournament provides a possible entry point, with MLS-based players bound to factor in greater numbers than the current Concacaf Nations League roster.

“Obviously I’m not in the picture for Nations League,” Bassett said, “but the Gold Cup is coming up in the summer and I think I’m really trying to make a push toward that roster and be a part of that and help us try to win a trophy. I want to represent this country and it’s definitely one of my goals to be a part of it with such a fun and exciting young group of guys.”

The Rapids youngster doesn’t look to don the USMNT jersey in a one-off capacity. He seeks to become a more permanent player, identifying the World Cup as his ultimate aim.

“I think for everybody it’s got to be a World Cup, to play in a World Cup for the US would be amazing,” Bassett said. “If it’s here in 2026, if it’s next year, whatever for me – I don’t care really where it would be. But to represent the US at a national event like that would be something that you dream of as a kid.”

For more from Bassett, check out The Call Up’s latest episode here.