Colorado Rapids rookies impressing with early minutes

In dealing with a rash of injuries, Colorado coach Óscar Pareja has turned to youth and been richly rewarded.
The twitterati dubbed them the Rapkids. The players call them impressive. Everyone else just calls them the Colorado Rapids rookies.

As the Rapids swim through a swarm of injuries plaguing the roster, the youth offers a rare glimpse of the lighthouse.

"That was the highlight of the game for me," Brian Mullan told after the 2-2 result against Portland. "The young guys really stood out and did a great job. You couldn’t have asked for anything more of the young guys."

Four rookies started for Colorado in last Saturday's match, including goalkeeper Clint Irwin and 19-year-old Shane O'Neill. Mullan was impressed with Dillon Powers, even claiming he is one of the best rookies Mullan has seen turn with the ball in a long time.

"We had Dillon scoring a goal," Mullan said. "Shane was solid in the back. As a whole they did a great job, and I am looking forward to them getting more experience."

Defender Marvell Wynn also appreciated the midfield talent of U.S. U-20 international Powers.

"Dillon, right now, I feel like is one of our best players," Wynne told "I am very confident having him in the middle. I can give him the ball when he is under pressure, and he knows how to get out of it.

"That shot, you just look at it and it speaks for itself," Wynne said of Powers' goal, which was nominated for goal of the week. "He's a very good player."

In the offseason, the Colorado Rapids made a statement by the amount of young signings they acquired, trading fan favorites like Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. Ignoring the critics, the club freshened up the roster.

Although not expecting to need so many of the young talent to start within the first few weeks of the season, the veterans are thankful that the Rapkids have stepped up to the challenge.

"I definitely commend them a great deal," Wynne said. "They did well coming in. They followed the game plan pretty well, and it’s never easy coming out and having to perform like that. I feel like they are going to be good assets for us in the future. This club is just going to get better."

Tim Gardner contributed reporting