COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Jeremy Kelly was drafted by the Colorado Rapids ninth overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. He spent four years at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kelly was signed on Feb. 25. I was going to write about the signing and my first impressions of Kelly, but then the COVID-19 Pandemic happened and now I’ve got time and so does MLS Twitter.
Jeremy Kelly: Meet the Newest Colorado Rapid First-Teamer
Having watched some college film and seeing him in training the first two weeks of the season, this seems like a good signing. Kelly wasn’t the most talented player in the ACC last year, but he was one of the most consistent and smart.
Skill set and first impressions:
He made very few mistakes by drafted rookie standards when I watched him train. His decisions were quick and well executed and he wasn’t a snag in the build up play out of the back. Have him get 90 minutes fit and add a bit more speed, and he’s pretty close to rookie Keegan Rosenberry circa 2016.
“He’s a really smart player. He’s technically good with both feet. He’s the type of player who can play and play well in a number of different positions. With that kind of adaptability, he’s a good one to get, and he’s going to probably have a good career,” Head Coach Robin Fraser told Last Word on Soccer.
Fraser’s initial assessment lines up with how Kelly self-evaluates himself:
“I’m a player who likes to get forward. I’m a smart player. You won’t see any blazing speed or massive strength. But you’ll see a smart player who knows what he wants to do before he gets the ball and combines well with the team and also willing to grind.”
Decent but not top quality talent. Versatile. Fits in with others well. Goes about his work quietly and humbly. Jeremy Kelly sounds like a Burgundy Boy already. Being nearly ambidextrous is a plus.
Making MLS out of college:
The Rapids have developed a good habit of regularly drafting well, having a draft pick a year get signed, and having them contribute as a professional. When asked about the differences in quality between ACC and MLS, he mentioned the depth of quality, both across teams and skill sets of individual players.
“Just coming out of college, you know less and less guys are getting contracts. They’re going to play for USL teams. You know you have to prove yourself and show what you’re worth. You don’t have much time to do it,” said Kelly.
College soccer has good athletes, but MLS has versatile athletes who think and act quickly. Kelly’s got the foundation and Soccer IQ to keep up. Having a good head with the UNC pedigree helps too. The 22-year-old has the perfect role model that could make a difference this season and for seasons to come, Keegan Rosenberry.
Kelly’s already made a good impression on his right back lead, four years his senior:
“[Jeremy Kelly’s] fantastic. Great character guy. It wasn’t long ago that I came out of college and was hoping to get drafted and hoping to get signed. It’s interesting relating to those players 4-5 years down the road now. I’m really excited for him.”
They’ve already developed a relationship and Kelly’s absorbing advice like a sponge.
“You watch him and try to pick up a few things here and there to help your game. Anything I can try to get off of Keegan, I will. It’s nice to have someone like that I can look to and see what I can take from cause we are playing the same position.”
Last Word: Being well traveled
You might notice on Kelly’s player profile that his birthplace is listed as Prague, Czech Republic. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Paris, France, and then to North Caroline when he was 10-years-old.
His family was following his mom’s career/job. They moved to France so she could start Business School. Apparently Kelly used to speak very good French.