Cole Bassett celebrates his game-winning goal. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

When he received the news that he was called into U.S. men’s national team training camp, Cole Bassett wrote down two goals he wanted to accomplish this month.

“I like to write my goals down and right before this camp I actually wrote down on a piece of paper,” he said. “I left it on my bed so right when I get home, I see it.

“First thing was to make my debut, second thing was score goal. It’s pretty special that actually those things came true.”

Indeed they did, in spectacular fashion.

Goal No. 1 came in the 78th minute, when the 20-year-old Colorado Rapids midfielder replaced Jordan Morris as he made his international debut.

Goal No. 2 actually was a goal as Bassett tallied in the 89th minute to lift the USA to a 1-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in an international friendly at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Saturday night.

Not too shabby, huh?

Bassett endured a long season for the Rapids, the surprise MLS Western Conference champions. He wanted to play more and produce more on the offensive end. He finished with five goals and four assists in 2,209 minutes over 23 starts and 32 matches.

“Throughout the year, there was a little bit more expectations from myself and the coaching staff in Colorado to kind of be our main goal scorer or one of them,” he said. “I kind of underperformed in that regards. I did hit the post a lot this year. I’ve got to be finishing off those chances. As the season went on, I think I developed a lot more as a player then I was the year before. I’m always looking to elevate my game.”

Bassett’s mantra is simple. “It’s always being able to bounce back from the setbacks and never get too high never again too low,” he said.

The 5-11, 150-lb. midfielder already had one coach firmly in his corner – USA assistant coach Anthony Hudson, who directed the Rapids from 2017-19 and Hudson saw Bassett development as a teenager with Colorado’s teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

“Anthony Hudson was urging to put him on because of the impact he can make and the goals that he has,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Cole’s a guy that shows up and scores. goals. We were seeing that during the week with his abilities and finishing ability.”

Bassett had hoped to showcase his finishing ability with the U.S. Under-20 national team in the U-20 World Cup, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out any hopes for him and his teammates to compete.

“It was a big, missed opportunity for a lot of us,” he said. “I’m not the only one. I think we came off a pretty good camp. That Mexico camp as a group and we’re feeling confident going into the next camp and I believe we’re supposed to go to Portugal right after that and then COVID hits.

“For a lot of us, the U-20 World Cup would have provided a platform to be seen on the world stage. A lot of guys before that, that have played in the last U-20 World Cup were able to get moves to Europe … and just were able to be seen by a lot of people. Our age group missed out on that. And the thing is that you can’t change it. You got to work with what you’re given.”

Translated: Bassett has learned to make the best of his opportunities, no matter how limited they might be or how few than are.

With time running out the U.S. looking like it was going to settle for a scoreless draw with 10-man Bosnia, Bassett found himself at the right place at the right time.

As it turned out, four second-half substitutes played vital roles on the game-winner.

Gyasi Zardes kept defender Bryan Reynolds’ cross alive in the penalty area. The ball dropped to midfielder Jonathan Gomez, who fired a left-footed shot from the top of the box through several bodies. Goalkeeper Bemin Dizdarevic, who came on at halftime, saved the shot but spilled it. Bassett pounded on rebound and buried it from close range.

“It started out with some combination play on the right side,” Bassett said. “Before we came in, Gregg told me and Cade Cowell Cod that he’d liked us to be a bit more narrow and try to get on the end of balls in the box. I believe it was Brian Reynolds put a ball in. I probably should have scored the first one to be honest. I hit that with the outside of my head in it skimmed past me. Jonathan’s got a good shot. I always just try to sniff goals and be in the right spot and luckily it bounced me, and I just put it away from there.”

As for his next USMNT goal, Bassett might want to write it down on paper that he wants to be called into January camp prior to the next three World Cup qualifying matches.

“I want to be in this January camp,” he said. “I want to try to push for one of the qualifying rosters. I know lot of people would say that’s it’s going to be pretty tough for me. I think throughout my career, I’ve always been kind of one that’s kind of went under the radar. That’s fine. I’ll try to continue to push for that.”

There has been talk of some European clubs that have expressed interest in Bassett. That might be considered a long-time goal for the midfielder, who is concentrated on the here and now.

“You never know what happens,” he said. “I definitely want to play in Europe one day. I’ve said that many times. But right now, I’m just focused on going back with my family and then preseason in January camp.”

And then Cole Bassett can write down some more goals for his future.