Jonathan Lewis looks on - Colorado Rapids
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Facing NYCFC for first time, Colorado's Jonathan Lewis focused on future

Over the last few months, Jonathan Lewis has been everything that New York City FC thought he'd be when they traded up at the 2017 MLS SuperDraft to select him with the No. 3 overall pick.

The winger is making good on his first consistent run of games in his young career. He has three goals across his last three games, sandwiched around his time with the US men's national team at the Concacaf Gold Cup. He's beginning to stretch his legs in the vast space that is his untapped potential.

Except he's not doing it for NYCFC.

Lewis is now wearing burgundy and blue, quickly becoming a building block for the Colorado Rapids and one of the league's most interesting young talents. In May, after Lewis had started just six MLS games over two seasons and change in a deep Cityzens' attack, the Rapids swooped in, handed NYCFC a bundle of cash and traded for Lewis.

"I had a chance that I could make a difference on this Colorado team, so I was actually very happy," Lewis told MLSsoccer.com about the trade. "Everybody looks at it like going to the last place team, but now we’re not in last place. I knew from my first training session that we had good players.”

Lewis, preparing for his first encounter with his former team on Saturday (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada), has no interest in litigating whether or not he got a fair shake of playing time while in the Big Apple.

“That’s for other people to judge," Lewis said. "I’m just happy to be in Colorado where I’m getting a good run of games. Everybody has different opinions about it. I think that’s for the outside to judge.”

In fact, Lewis doesn't have much interest in looking back at all. He's firmly focused on the Rapids, now and in the future. 

“There’s a lot of young players that are really good, a lot of pieces," Lewis said. "I’m excited. This gives me an opportunity to prove to some of the guys that not only can I play here, but I can be a high-level player. People from the outside might think, 'This guy couldn’t play consistently in New York.' This is where I can show that I can play in the national team and be one of the better young players in MLS.”

The trade marked a significant investment from Colorado: $650,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a a 2020 international roster slot. It also served as a vote of confidence for the 22-year-old. 

“That’s just the price New York put on me," Lewis said. "The fact that (Colorado) were interested in me showed that they were willing to give me a chance, not only to trade for me, but almost to change the system to accommodate me. They had the belief. Regardless of the price tag, even if it was free, they just saw something in me.”

The last few months have pushed Lewis.

He made his USMNT debut in January, assisting in each of his first two games from the bench. He was called up again in March, when the player pool widened and Gregg Berhalter could draw from European-based players. Berhalter saw enough from Lewis to keep him around.

“I learned a lot about myself, especially at the Gold Cup," Lewis said. "I have work to do to make it to the top level. Everybody has aspirations, you know? I believe in myself that I can do it, but I also have a lot of work.”

On Saturday, Lewis' history with NYCFC has no bearing on his mind. But if it's just another game, will Lewis celebrate should he score for a fourth consecutive game?

“I don’t know,” Lewis said before he paused to ponder. Perhaps it was the first time he considered it. “I don’t think so. I have respect for the guys there, no hard feelings. Again, hopefully it’d be just another goal in another game."


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