International Soccer Network

"Your Source for the Beautiful Game"

Former Silverbacks Reserves Defender Rises to Major Heights

Photo Credit: Bart Young/Colorado Rapids

When former Atlanta Silverbacks left back Chris Klute arrived in Major League Soccer in 2012, not much was known about the Texan. The Colorado Rapids acquired the 22-year-old on a one-year loan from the NASL club and played just one match in the 2012 MLS season.

What happened next was magic.

There is little doubt that the Colorado Rapids have picked a gem out of the NASL, as Klute began his post-collegiate career on the Silverbacks’ reserve squad in the NPSL in 2011.

He quickly rose up the ranks.

“I really enjoyed the time that I played with the team and played with some great guys and great coaches. It was a good experience for me,” Klute says about his time in Atlanta.

Klute admits that in his first few months at the Reserve level were a bit shaky since he had not played for a certain amount of time. That may have been a blessing for Chris, as he was able to refine his skills and relearn the game after playing just a year each at Furman University and Clayton State University.

“Day after day and week after week I was there working at (getting better) and it was a way to get my confidence back and getting back the skills I knew I had. There were a lot of college guys playing just for a chance to make it.”

After two years with the Silverbacks Reserves, the defender signed with the pro side and began his climb to bigger things. His time with the Silverbacks would be short, yet very productive. The defender started 11 of the 12 matches and even notched his first career assist in the process, something that would foreshadow his time in MLS.

“I find that watching myself on tape helps me a lot,” he says, “You have to watch the mistakes you make and if it happens again you have an idea of what to do.”

Klute also helped the club record three shutouts in his last five games in Atlanta, conceding just a pair of goals in that stretch. This coming after the Silverbacks conceded the most goals in the league just a year prior.

The defender knows that the NPSL has helped him climb to the success he sees today.

“The league helped be get back into the competitive mode,” he explains. “Teams and players are competing at a high level so that they can make it to the next level of professional soccer. It helped me develop faster and got me to fight for 50/50 balls better and getting forward.”

The Colorado Rapids came calling for Chris and he left the Silverbacks before the year was over to sign a one-year loan in September of 2012. The defender saw the change right away.

“The MLS is more of jump when it comes to talent. In the NPSL, you are playing against guys that have played professionally, but it’s awesome playing in the USA’s top league.”

Klute started in the final match of the Rapids’ final regular season match in 2012, a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. Just a start under his belt in the MLS, the defender would have to wait for the fourth match of the 2013 season to continue his career and start his mark in MLS.

In that fourth match of the year, against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Diego Calderón injured himself in the 23rd minute. From then on, Klute shot off like a rocket to become one of the best left backs in the country.

“I am very grateful to be playing and I am happy where I am right now. I don’t think many people can say that they have taken off like I have in a short amount of time. I still try to progress season by season and take it from there.”

The defender finished the 2013 season playing in 31 matches, starting in 30, and helped the team collect 10 shutouts, one more than the previous year.

What the Rapids really enjoyed was the seven assists that the defender contributed (most on the team), especially one that was a game-winner.

“I guess that I can be labeled as a hybrid defender, but I don’t like that. I am more defensive as I play left back, which is my first priority. The way we played this year (at Colorado) there was a lot of space that opened up for me and I got more chances to play forward. It was fortunate to play up, make a one-two pass with somebody or lay in a nice cross and get involved in the attack.”

The seven assists and the defensive productivity caught the eye of and Klute was added to their Goal USA MLS Best XI. That was the second best gift the Rapids defender got in 2013, as Colorado purchased his contract from Atlanta.

With the success coming in all levels of that Christopher has played, the next step maybe wearing the Red, White, and Blue again, as the defender represented the US at the U-17 and U-20 levels in 2007.

Klute was part of the 2007 U-17 squad that went to the World Cup in South Korea. He didn’t necessarily get much time on the field, but there was much to take in.

“You saw really good talent on the field in the World Cup and you think about where you are in your career and ask yourself if there is more that you need to work on. You also cannot just sit back on your talent since there are guys out there working as hard as you are.”

Among the notable names that the United States saw in that World Cup are Belgium’s Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) as well as German and Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos, who won the Golden Ball in that tournament.

“It was great to see guys like that play and it makes you wonder and dream about making it overseas with a big club in Europe.”

As Chris has shot from the Reserve side of the Atlanta Silverbacks to MLS in just a short time, it is likely that Klute will be making an appearance on the USMNT backline sometime soon.

Atlanta Silverbacks Return to the NPSL

The Atlanta Silverbacks organization took another step in furthering its player development side, announcing Thursday that they will field a reserve team in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2014.

The Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, who will play their home games in the stadium at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, will open NPSL play in May. The Reserves competed in the NPSL from 2011-2012, sending a number of their players to the Silverbacks professional side, which plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL).

“We’re very excited to announce the Reserves’ return to the NPSL in 2014,” said Silverbacks President & GM Andy Smith. “Based on the success we have had developing players in the past, we feel like the Reserves are an extremely important element to our organization.”

Five former members of the Reserves have eventually signed with the Silverbacks professional team: goalkeeper Eric Ati, defender Chris Klute, midfielder Borfor Carr, and forwards Jahbari Willis and Junior Sandoval. Ati, Carr, and Willis are still with the club, while Klute has since moved on to Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and Sandoval to CD Marathón in the Honduran first division.

“The Atlanta Silverbacks, finalists in this year’s NASL Soccer Bowl, are known as one of the top player development clubs in the NASL, and they have an impressive track record of players successfully moving to Major League Soccer,” said NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock. “We’re excited to welcome back the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, who will use the NPSL as an important part of their player development model.”

The Reserves’ ownership group of Boris Jerkunica, John Latham, Henry Hardin III, John Hardin, and Chris Goeckel has appointed Ricardo Montoya as head coach of the Reserves. The Costa Rican served in the same capacity during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, most recently leading the team to a second-place finish in the NPSL Southeast Conference.

“I want to thank Silverbacks Chairman Boris Jerkunica, Technical Director Eric Wynalda and the rest of the club’s management for showing their confidence in me as a coach,” said Montoya. “The Reserves are very important to the organization, and I can’t wait to start scouting, recruiting, and competing in an environment that I’m very familiar with.”

While Montoya will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the team, the technical staff and management from the Silverbacks professional team will be directly involved in running the team. The Reserves will be used as a key vehicle for player development, and will allow the professional team to have a pool of players to select from should an injury or performance issue arise during the NASL season.

Along with Montoya, the Silverbacks professional staff will begin scouting for the 2014 Reserves immediately, and will also use the club’s tryouts as a way to identify players. Tryout dates will be announced within the next week.