CINCINNATI — For a guy who stands 6 feet, 5 inches, it’s hard to imagine Forrest Lasso has much more growing to do.
But fresh off making a 90-minute Major League Soccer debut in Sunday’s 2-0 win at New England Revolution, the towering FC Cincinnati defender remains focused on his growth — as a player, that is.
“I know I have what it takes to be a regular starter,” Lasso said during a phone interview with Pro Soccer USA. “But then again, I am still relatively young and this was my first appearance in MLS. I still have a lot to learn, and we have a lot of veteran guys that I get to watch and learn from every single day.”
Lasso is right. The fifth-year pro currently sits third on the FCC depth chart at centerback. Ahead of him sit two veterans. There’s Cincinnati native and six-year MLS veteran Nick Hagglund, with an MLS Cup on his resume. Then there’s team captain and Costa Rican international Kendall Waston. Plus, Lasso would need to fend off competition from former New York Red Bulls prospect Hassan Ndam. And there’s the potential players such as Mathieu Deplagne and Caleb Stanko get looks in central defense, too.
But it was Waston’s international call-up by Costa Rica that finally opened an opportunity for Lasso to get his first appearance. And the 25-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., seized his opportunity.
In his start at New England, Lasso looked a seasoned pro. He completed a team-leading three blocks, more than managed by the entire New England squad. He also logged a team-high 12 clearances, which was one less than the team’s combined total. More importantly, he and the Cincinnati defense combined to post the team’s second consecutive shutout.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) March 25, 2019
Those who have paid close attention to the fifth-year professional’s career won’t be that surprised at his quick transition. Forrest wasn’t.
“I’ve always had the belief in myself,” he said. “I know I had the talent and attributes to make it to this level. Obviously, I kinda went a different way about it than most players, but I guess that was just a testament to my resiliency. I knew I had what it took. I knew it would be a grind. And I knew there would be a lot of sacrifices on and off the field. But I’m here now.”
Lasso’s work ethic is evident, and a big part of the reason he’s now in MLS.
Always one of the last to leave the training field, it’s not unusual to find Lasso fielding crosses 30 minutes after practice ends. Surfing his social media profiles often yields video compilations of his offseason workouts. And even though the interview for this story landed on an off day for the team, he had characteristically put in a session at the gym.
That tireless effort is born of Lasso’s late-blooming physical growth. The big defender has long championed a “Little kid, big body” mantra, having to learn to adjust to a rapidly growing frame.
“When I was 16, I had no idea was going to be the size I am today,” Lasso said. “Physically, maturity wise, I was a late bloomer.”
For that reason, Lasso also knows that development needs to continue, especially now that he’s in MLS, and he’s trying to be methodical about his development.
“For me, it’s just trying to improve each day,” Lasso said. “And, hopefully, it’s an ‘I’m better tomorrow than I was today’ type of mentality. That way I can continue to develop and continue to learn to be the player I know I can be.”
He’s also not trying to rush things.
“We can’t learn it all in one day. For me, it’s taking that one step at a time. I try to not to perfect everything at once — that probably increases my likeliness to fail,” he said. “But I can make a lot more progress with a little checklist or goal sheet, working on one thing at a time. And at the end of the day, the whole picture is going to be better.
“I’ve always said my dream, my goal was to play in MLS. So to now have that opportunity, it‘s a dream come true.”
And knowing Forrest, he will grow into a few more dreams, too.