The Colorado Rapids will continue their exciting project in the coming weeks with several young players at the forefront of what Robin Fraser hopes is a successful 2021 season. Third-year striker Andre Shinyashiki saw a dip in production in a shortened 2020 campaign, but the former MLS Rookie of the Year is gearing up to play an even bigger role for the club this time around,
Shinyashiki heads into the new season as one of the Rapids top offensive players, a credit to the work he has put in during his short time in MLS so far. The former University of Denver product has impressed Fraser in their short time together and overall is ready for the next chapter of his career in Colorado.
“I’m really excited for this year with Andre, he’s in great shape and he really took care of himself this offseason,” Fraser told SBI. “He has really worked hard to come in at peak fitness and he is just carrying himself at a high level already throughout the preseason. I think he is going to have a really good year, I really do.”
“The goal for me is to win a trophy and to make the playoffs and I know I can help us achieve those goals by scoring and setting up my teammates,” Shinyashiki told SBI. “It’s been my main goal since I started in 2019 and it’s something that continues to be the same now. Helping the team is most important and I know I can do more of that in 2021.”
After setting new records in college at the University of Denver, Shinyashiki enjoyed an impressive first season as a professional. His seven goals and three assists helped him with the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year and also give Rapids fans a glimpse of more to come in the future.
In 16 combined league appearances last season, Shinyashiki contributed four goals and one assist, helping the Rapids clinch a playoff berth. After a 3-0 first round loss to Minnesota United, Shinyashiki was determined to put in the work to help him have a better season in 2021.
“I did a lot of things right in the offseason, just like I did during the regular season but only better,” Shinyashiki said. “I just think coming in ready to play in preseason is one of the most important things, coming in fit and coming in strong. I think maturing as a player as well, between 2019 and 2020, making the right passes, making the right decisions is key.
“I managed myself well during the lockdown and was able to prepare for another go at things this season,” Shinyashiki said. “I believe it will be a good season for myself and the club because we know what we are capable of and I think we did a lot of good stuff last season. Now it’s about transferring that energy and style of play to this season.”
Born in Brazil, Shinyashiki quickly made a name for himself as a player both at the collegiate and pro levels. He’s amassed over 2,800 minutes of action with the Rapids and has gelled nicely with the mixture of youth and experience at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
One of his more memorable moments for the Rapids colors was scoring on his professional debut against the Portland Timbers in a snow-filled Western Conference showdown in Colorado. Shinyashiki scored against six other opponents that season, but still remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
“The Portland goal was a major moment for me because it was my debut in the league and it gave me tons of confidence in front of the home fans,” Shinyashiki said. “I felt it showed I belonged in MLS and showed a lot of the people who doubted me that I deserved to be in the situation. Obviously the Rookie of the Year award was important too and I hope I can deliver some more memorable moments this season to add to those of the past.”
The Rapids and Fraser have put their faith in young players like Shinyashiki, Auston Trusty, Sam Vines, and others to help guide them back into the postseason on a consistent basis. After totaling combined double-digit goals and appearances over his first two seasons, the striker aims to deliver more for his head coach starting on April 17th’s Opening Day.
“Robin is a top top guy, he’s just different,” Shinyashiki said. “He helps simplify things on the field for us and it has worked very well so far. You come into training thinking there will be a lot to learn, but he has helped make it easy for us to understand. He does a phenomenal job relating to all of the guys and really helping the guys understand why what we’re doing is so important.”
Shinyashiki will be joined by Diego Rubio, Jonathan Lewis, and newcomer Michael Barrios in the Rapids offensive corps this season as the club tries to be more consistent overall in 2021. With more matches comes more opportunities for both Shinyashiki and his teammates, but could also demand even more of them as players after playing in only 18 regular season games one year ago.
With the Western Conference posing several top threats in the Seattle Sounders, LAFC, and Portland Timbers, Shinyashiki knows every match will be a dogfight to try and get back to the postseason.
“I feel it was great to make the playoffs last season, but I didn’t think we were ready to make an impact,” Shinyashiki told SBI. “But I feel like this year, we have a much more experienced team, with young guys coming in and showing some development.”
“We’ve been underdogs for as long as I’ve been here and I really don’t want it to change because I feel like we played better when people doubt us. It’s a great feeling to prove people wrong and I want to be a part of that this season when its all said and done.”