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Vines excels at left back in USMNT debut win

Seven American players made their senior debuts for the U.S. Men’s National Team on Saturday in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica. While Ulysses Llanez stole the show after scoring the lone goal in the match, several other players impressed.

Colorado Rapids left back Sam Vines was one of those players, getting his first senior start under Gregg Berhalter. The 20-year-old looked lively in attack and defense, tossing his name into the hat of eligible left backs for the team going forward.

“For me it just means the world to make my debut,” Vines said. “I’ve always looked forward to doing this and to get the start means a lot too. My family and friends came too which meant a lot and it was great to play this superb group of guys. It’s exciting for me.”

“During this camp I’ve grown individually and as a team I think we’ve grown together since we came together earlier in January. We put everything together and gelled as a team. I am looking forward to the season and getting back with the Rapids. Hopefully I can make a good push.”

Vines played 77 minutes at Dignity Health Sports Park, helping the USMNT earn its first shutout win of 2020. After a breakout MLS campaign in 2019 with the Rapids, Vines has continued to move through the ranks of U.S. Soccer and is a possibility for Jason Kreis’ U-23 side ahead of the upcoming Concacaf Olympic Qualifying tournament in Mexico.

“I want to congratulate the seven players who made their debuts for the Men’s National Team,” Berhalter said. “It’s a great honor to be part of this program. They are always going to remember their first game. We knew the age of our guys and it was nice to see them grow throughout the month.”

Vines was able to get into the attack for the USMNT on Saturday, feeding balls into the box while also linking up with his midfield teammates. Defensively, he was composed against a veteran Costa Rican squad that recorded just two shots on goal out of 11 shots in total. The Rapids Homegrown praised his older teammates for helping him grow during this camp.

“The veterans played a huge leadership role,” Vines said. “They show you how to act both on and off the field. Walker, Gyasi, Paul, Reggie they are guys that have done it before so they know what it takes. Reggie took me under his wing since we both play at the full back positions. It was great working with them.”

While Tim Ream, Daniel Lovitz, and Antonee Robinson all have more experience with the senior squad, Vines can use this camp to grow even more in 2020. Up next is a return to the Rapids for preseason camp and the start of the MLS regular season, but if he continues to perform well then he could be called in to help the Americans qualify for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“If I want to put my name into consideration for the Olympic team, I just have to keep working hard with the Rapids,” Vines said. “I have to act like a full professional and keeping pushing to be there.”


  1. I was pleasantly surprised how good he was defending…very quick with good angles and awareness. Pretty smooth on the ball…deft pass to Llanez running into space…high end ball.

    Quality player…

  2. It is always a good sign for a defender if you do notice him much during the game. He means he did not let things get past him and that he did not have to resort to last minute heroics. (Of course, it is nice when he gets noticed for successfully contributing to the attack, but that is not really his main purpose.)

    From the run of play, I do not recall his defensive efforts and that is a very good thing; it means he quietly did his job there.


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