Abraham Rodriguez’s professional debut in the Colorado Springs Switchbacks’ 2-2 draw at Phoenix Rising last week seemingly came out of nowhere, but it’s been part of the plans for the 16-year-old goalkeeper for a couple of months.
“When I heard that we affiliated with the Switchbacks, right away my goal was ‘I want to be there. I want to play there.’ I don’t care if I’m 16 years old. That’s my goal,” Rodriguez, a member of the Colorado Rapids development academy, recalled.
“When I got the opportunity, I was ready. I was prepared, and I took it.”
Rodriguez prides himself on his readiness, and he looked anything but shook while making 11 saves in a performance that earned him United Soccer League Championship player of the week honors.
“I tend to be prepared, man,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez got word he’d make his debut after Thursday’s training session when Andre Rawls realized he broke a finger.
“I was the second keeper already, so I was like ‘If anything happens, I know I’m going in,’” Rodriguez said.
“I mentally prepared in case something happens.”
The Rising came at the teenager early and showered him with shots during stretches. Rodriguez was up to the task for almost all of the first half. He made a couple of one-on-one saves and added a double save off a corner kick to protect a lead after Jordan Burt scored the opener.
A header to the top corner beat Rodriguez late in the first half, and a diving header put the hosts up late. There was little, if anything, Rodriguez could do about either.
Ish Jome’s free kick in the 91st minute made sure the goalkeeper’s performance would not go to waste.
“I would’ve been really disappointed but something told me we were not going to lose,” Rodriguez said.
Jome was happy to help avoid disappointment in the strong debut.
“Abraham played incredible,” Jome said. “For a 16-year-old to step into his first professional game and play like that was unbelievable.”
Rodriguez is expected to get another shot Saturday as the Switchbacks look for a third consecutive road result to open the season. Rawls wasn’t at training Thursday, and Steward Ceus, who made the trip to Arizona in case of emergency, is still working his way to 100%.
"I’m ready to go this weekend, really confident," Rodriguez said.
While the debut wasn’t part of Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh’s plans until he learned of the injury late Thursday, he was comfortable with Rodriguez in goal after watching him scrimmage against the Rapids the week prior.
“He was solid there and what we’ve seen in training,” Trittschuh said. “The kid stepped up, man.”
After one start and one player of the week award, Rodriguez has an apartment in Colorado Springs to prevent the treks down and back from Denver.
“I would drive at least two or three times a week, drive here and then back to Denver, but this week, they got me an apartment,” Rodriguez said. “Now, I’m staying here.”
All part of the plans.