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Auston Trusty’s move to Arsenal in Premier League speaks volumes for potential of KSE, Rapids partnership

When Colorado Rapids general manager Pádraig Smith took over the role in 2017, there were several things he needed to change.

One of the most significant aspects: Embrace the team’s partnership with the club on the other side of the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment ocean, Arsenal Football Club.

If Smith could find the right people in place to embrace “The Rapids Way” philosophy — bring in young, raw talent, and find a soccer style that suited the club — it would only be a matter of time before things moved in the other direction.

Five years on, the KSE partnership has boomed. On Monday, Auston Trusty became the third Rapids player in the past six months to make a move to Europe, when the Rapids announced he had been sold to Arsenal, joining Sam Vines and Cole Bassett. The move became the first official transaction between the two KSE clubs.

The Rapids, now revitalized from a historic 2021 season, might have entered into a new era seemingly overnight — a Burgundy Rush.

“It shows the size and scale of our organization and how young players, the best young players in the United States can come through the Colorado Rapids,” Smith said in an interview with The Post. “They can come through a successful club and can develop, grow, and put themselves into a position to move onto the stature of Arsenal and the Premier League.”

Smith said moving players on to Europe was always a goal, but in order to do that, it took buy-in from players and coaches. Now, promising Academy graduates like Dantouma “Yaya” Toure and Denver native Darren Yapi, both of whom trained with the Gunners this winter, can see a clear path with Trusty’s move.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Auston, a wonderful opportunity he’s earned. He really has,” Smith said. “He put a huge amount of effort in over the last number of years. It’s a credit to him, a credit to the coaching staff and a credit to the club for really putting in place a plan that drives youth movement that you’ve heard us talk about.”

The Rapids will undoubtedly miss his stamina once he leaves July 17, when his sale to Arsenal kicks in. Trusty was on the field for 97% of the team’s 3,060 minutes in 2021, the highest percentage among six outgoing players, per Burgundy Wave site manager Jake Shapiro. But it’s clear the deal is a highly promising piece of business for KSE, and one that benefits both parties.

Per Football Reference, a soccer statistics site, Trusty led the 2021 team in a host of defensive actions that have proven how much of leap he has made with the Rapids, including, tackles (64) and tackles won (39) and blocked shot attempts (23). He also had team-bests in interceptions (89) and clearances (142).

In addition, Trusty was among the top-10 on the team in pressuring players, and successfully pressured opponents to win the ball back within five seconds 103 times — the third-best mark on the team.

For Smith, while he is ecstatic the partnership has produced a Burgundy Rush, he knows Trusty can still excel this season with the Rapids.

“His focus right now is on the Colorado Rapids and making sure that we hit the ground running Feb. 17 in the Champions League, and that we have a great start to the season.”