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‘Always a top target’: Colorado Rapids draft pick Andre Shinyashiki pays dividends

Colorado Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki (99) celebrates after his goal in extra time against the Portland Timbers at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — During the 2018 NCAA men’s soccer season, University of Denver striker Andre Shinyashiki was widely regarded as the top forward in collegiate soccer.

“All he needs is one second, one moment to change a game,” DU head coach Jaime Franks said back in November.

Four months later, Shinyashiki is still getting it done, this time as a professional. The Colorado Rapids’ first-round draft pick made an immediate impact in his MLS debut, scoring an equalizer at the death to salvage a point for the 10-men Rapids in a Colorado snowstorm Saturday.

“There’s nothing more a guy like me can dream of,” Shinyashiki told ProSoccerUSA. “Obviously, you want to try to win, but given the conditions that we were in, it was still a positive result.”

Rapids coach Anthony Hudson was likewise impressed by the goal, and the fact that his team salvaged a point despite the odds stacked against them.

“There’s not many places in the world where you’re going to play a game like that,” Hudson said. “We’ve definitely added quality and strong characters and that was the key.”

In a busy offseason, Colorado added proven veterans like Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio and Benny Feilhaber. But moving up in the draft to land Shinyashiki is another move that Hudson cited as key to his team’s transformation this season.

“He was always a top target,” Hudson explained. “Everyone had told me how good he was and then we watched him play at the combine and were really impressed. I’d seen enough at the combine. We saw his movement, his mentality and his touches. Then we met him there and saw that he was a brilliant character. For me, it was like a big signing. We wanted him in the first team this year.”

Despite previous experience playing for the Rapids U-23 side, the idea of being drafted was never a guarantee for Shinyashiki. Like any other draftee, the process involved a lot of anxiety and unknowns.

“I definitely knew of the interest, but it was still up in the air,” he remembers “I didn’t know they were going to trade to get me. There were rumors, but I didn’t know until they said my name. [Colorado] was a place I wanted to come to really badly, so I was happy when it happened.”

Born and raised in Brazil, soccer has always been a part of Shinyashiki’s life.

“I grew up in Brazil playing in the streets like a typical Brazilian does,” he said. “To say every boy in Brazil grows up wanting to be a professional soccer player is a very accurate statement. Very few make it so I’m just extremely blessed and thankful to be here.”

As a young man, his life still revolves around the game. At DU he studied marketing with the hopes of entering sports marketing after he hangs up his boots. In his spare time, he watches soccer and plays FIFA.

The idea of living and breathing the sport is something that Hudson is looking for in a young player.

“There are certain characteristics we want for our young players,” Hudson explained. “Technically, they’ve got to be good on the ball. Character is the big part. You want strong characters in terms of wanting to win. The game means everything to them. Open to criticism, wants to improve, bounces back from setbacks. All of those things.”

In Shinyashiki, he’s seen it first-hand.

“When you look at Andre on the training ground, he gets disappointed when he doesn’t win,” Hudson continued. “He’s not afraid of senior players. He’s not afraid to express himself on the pitch or stand his ground in some meetings. He’ll say something and ask a question, which is a good sign rather than someone who nods and agrees. That’s why we have a lot of trust in him.”

He’s gotten his professional goal out of the way, but the 22-year-old know that there’s still plenty of work ahead, not just for this season, but for his career. For now, he’s ready to absorb all the information he can, while putting his head down to do the work required to be successful in MLS.

“I just want to help the team as much as I can,” Shinyashiki said. “As a forward, you’re always looking to score goals and get assists, but it’s also about pressing hard and helping the guys behind me. To make the playoffs is our first goal and ultimately win everything. But it’s a day by day approach you have to have in order to accomplish those things.”




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