Shortly after becoming the latest in an elite club of USMNT players to score on their debut, Colorado Rapids forward Cole Bassett looked back on how lost chances in 2020 have helped to bring him to this current point in his career.
Reflecting the disrupted nature of the last couple years, Bassett recognizes that he, as did many players of his age group, missed out on several opportunities that often shape their career trajectory early-on.
Most significantly, the 2020 U-20 World Cup, originally due to be held in Indonesia, was canceled due to the ongoing Covid crisis. The squad was well into their preparations under then-coach Anthony Hudson, until everything came to a screeching halt.
“It was a big missed opportunity for a lot of us; I’m not the only one,” Bassett admitted in his comments following the Bosnia game. “We came off [of] a pretty good camp, that Mexico camp, as a group, feeling confident going into the next camp.
“I believe we were supposed to go to Portugal right after that and then Covid hit.”
“For a lot of us, the U-20 World Cup would have provided a platform to be seen on the world stage,” he continued. “A lot of guys that played in the last U-20 World Cup [previously] were able to get moves to Europe and were able to be seen by a lot of people.”
“[So] our age group missed out on that and the thing is you can’t change that; you’ve got to work with what you’re given.”
Despite missing out on the chance to turn heads in the US Soccer organization on the national stage with the U-20 squad, which played no games in 2020 and only sparingly 2021, the Littleton-born Bassett still had his eyes set on of reaching the senior team clearly in mind, and took a deliberate approach with his coaching staff at Colorado to still achieve this goal.
“For me, this whole year I’ve worked with one of our coaches at Colorado, Chris Little, [and] we’ve kind of written down the goals,” he described. “I always wanted to get in the actual team from last December, so for me it was all about making my debut this camp when Gregg gave me the opportunity.”
The 20-year-old did have one well-placed fan on his side in Gregg Berhalter’s assistant coach Hudson, who had already worked extensively with Bassett as the head coach of Colorado from 2017-2019, as the striker progressed from the team’s youth setup to the MLS squad, and in the limited time allowed during his tenure as coach of the US U-20 team from 2019-2020.
“Anthony was pushing for it and I’m kind of grateful that he was on the bench [because] he knows me and he knows what I can bring,” he beamed, adding “I was lucky to get on the field and just try to make an impact from there.”
At such a young age, having a starting position with his club team, a senior call up and a senior goal already, it’s safe to say that the future looks bright for Bassett. He is eager to continuing his work with the senior USMNT staff in January, despite what will be a different dynamic from the recently completed December camp.
Berhalter stated plans to hold another extended camp in January to keep his MLS contingent fit heading into the trio of qualifying games at the end of the month. As such, Bassett knows that it will be a higher-pressure situation in comparison to the one that just finished.
“We have that qualifying window coming up and […] I’ve never been a part of one of those. This [recent camp] was a camp where Gregg could be really hands on with us, and he could see what we’re like. [This is] compared to qualifying windows; those are short and he’s got to [have the team] perform right away.”
“This was good for us to get to be in front of Gregg a lot more,” he continued. “Now going into the next [qualifying] cycle, we’ve got a January camp right before, and hopefully you’re in that to try to prove that you can be in the qualifying cycle.”
Generally looking ahead to 2022, the Colorado Rapids striker looks to continue his development on both the club and national team level, with his first major goal already coming in the upcoming weeks.
“For me, I’m always looking to elevate my game. This upcoming year, within the national team, I want to be in this January camp and I want to push for one of the qualifying rosters.”
He acknowledges that this will be challenging to break into the full squad, but is confident that he has the tools to be up to the task. “I know a lot of people will say that its going to be pretty tough for me but I think throughout my career I’ve been one whose went under the radar; so for me that’s fine but I’ll continue to try to push for that.”
Beyond the January games, he is ready to continue his impact in the Colorado front line, however indeed has set the goal of eventually testing himself overseas.
“In regards to [my] club; you never know what’s going to happen,” he posits. “I definitely want to play in Europe one day, I’ve said that many times. But right now I’m just focused on going back with my family, then preseason, and January camps are coming up so that’s what I’ll focus on.”
For a player who has always been careful to craft a clear set of at each step of his professional career and have the talent to reach them, who is to say that his current list of goals will not come true?