COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids have signed 16-year-old forward and Rapids Academy product Darren Yapi to a five-year Homegrown Player contract with a club option for an additional year, the team announced Wednesday.
Yapi becomes the youngest player ever to sign a professional contract with the club.
"Darren’s ability and quality has been evident throughout his time in our academy," said Pádraig Smith, Rapids Executive VP & General Manager. "He’s worked hard to earn his first pro contract and is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He possesses all the necessary qualities to reach the very top of the game and we’re excited to see Darren’s continued growth at the club."
At 16 years, 104 days old, Yapi is the youngest player ever to sign with the Rapids. He is also the 14th Rapids Academy product to sign a Homegrown contract with Colorado and the 10th since 2017.
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Yapi spent much of 2020 training with the Rapids First Team and the club’s USL Championship affiliate, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Yapi signed a USL Academy contract with Switchbacks FC on July 31 and made his professional debut on Aug. 1 at age 15. In November, Yapi was named Rapids Academy Player of the Year.
A native of Green Valley Ranch, Colo., Yapi joined the Rapids Academy during the 2016-17 season in the U-12 age group. He went on to score 64 goals in 95 appearances for the Rapids Academy, often playing above his age group.
On the international level, Yapi earned three caps for the U.S. U-17 Youth National Team in the UEFA Development Tournament in February 2020.
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