Whilst players and fans alike were celebrating Wolverhampton Wanderers promotion to the Premier League, Jack Price was watching his former teammates lift the Championship trophy from over 4,500 miles away. Having spent seventeen years of his life representing Wolves, it was a proud moment for the midfielder born in Shrewsbury.
“I had the best time at Wolves,” he says. “All the way through the academy to the first team it was special. Winning promotion from League 1 back to the Championship was a big highlight of mine in my first season as a first team player. Seeing them get promoted back where they belong in the Premier League was great to see.”
Price was not part of the title celebrations has four months earlier, he had joined MLS side Colorado Rapids, leaving the club which had been his life. The simple fact was though that the 25-year-old had played just 59 minutes of Championship action all season and although he had made four starts in the League Cup, his game time under Nuno Espírito Santo had become limited. So before the opening of the January transfer window earlier this year, Price became aware of interest from other clubs.
“I heard about the possibility of coming over to America and the Colorado Rapids in mid-December. They were the only team at the time to have serious interest in me.
“I’ve always wanted to test myself in another country so it was an easy decision, especially after speaking to the gaffer Anthony Hudson.”
Price signed a four-year deal with the Rapids and subsequently joined a side with several Brits already in their ranks, not least English coach Anthony Hudson. The 37-year-old took over as the manager of the Rapids ahead of the 2018 season, returning to club football for the first time since a spell in charge of Newport County in 2011. His appointment at the MLS side came off back of managing the Bahrain and New Zealand national sides.
The club also boasts Scotsmen Danny Wilson and Sam Nicholson as well as the familiar face of former Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Although the move to America was the first time Price had played football outside of England, he didn’t take long to settle.
“I’ve found it easier than I imagined settling here in Denver. The people here are so friendly and everyone at the football club have been superb in welcoming me and my girlfriend Lauren. She’s made it a breeze moving out with me and can’t thank her enough.
“Having fellow Brits here has also helped settle on the football side of things so that’s been great.”
Colorado had a difficult 2017 season prior to the former Wolves man’s arrival. They finished second bottom in the Western Conference, 13 points off the play-offs but with the club owned by Arsenal owner Stan Kronke, future investment could lead to an improvement in fortunes. Price though, was not expecting an easy ride on his arrival in the league either way.
“When I first moved here I obviously expected the standard of football to be high,” he says. “But I must say, it’s a lot higher than people back home give it credit for. It’s a great league with some of the top players playing here. You don’t see a lot of coverage back home so it’s hard to gauge where the level is at before experiencing it yourself.”
Despite that though, MLS is still seen by some to have a reputation for attracting players who are winding down their careers. Price undoubtedly bucks that trend arriving in the league at the age of 25 and dismisses the notion he was too young to make the move.
“People have said that I’m too young to play in MLS, which isn’t true. It was a great opportunity for me to play week in, week out, which hasn’t been the case back home over the last couple years. It’s helping my game improve and I very thankful for that.
“Most players do come at the end of their careers but I want this to be a big stepping stone in my career and playing every game helps me strive forward.”
One thing Price, who had short loan spells at Leyton Orient and Yeovil Town when he was younger, has found difficult since his move to the States is distance MLS clubs have to travel for away games. Although clubs are in Western and Eastern Conferences, teams still play cross-conference games.
“To be honest the travel is hard over here,” he admits. “I feel I’m getting used to all the flights a little more but it’s still very demanding on your body playing away games in America, which makes it tough to pick up results on the road in this league.”
The 25-year-old has so far started 19 league games for the Rapids, missing just two matches all season, one due to suspension. He scored his first goal for the club during a 2-0 over Toronto in April and has also contributed an assist to go alongside his solid performances in the centre of midfield. He’s also had his first taste of continental football, having played twice in North America’s equivalent of the Champions League.
Colorado though, have found wins hard to come by again this year and are currently sat second bottom again but the club have recently recruited USA international Kellyn Acosta and hopes are high that alongside Price, he can turn things around after an excellent goal on his debut.
Something which Price has also had to get used to since his arrival in the States is taking to the field with global superstars. Of course the Championship is full of top quality players itself but not many of them have the worldwide following that some of the former Wolves man’s opponents have.
“The best players I have come across so far have to [Sebastian] Giovinco for Toronto he’s very good and also [Diego] Valeri for Portland he’s a very good player. I didn’t get to play against David Villa because of suspension but the lads say he is still different gravy!”
Price also recently took the field with another footballing legend. Wayne Rooney’s first goal for his new club DC United came during a match against the midfielder’s Colorado side.
After that game against Rooney, the Rapids still have a third of their season to go and can still make the play-offs if they pull off a remarkable run of form going into the end of the season. That is certainly the ambition of Price anyway but he has also looked slightly further afield.
“Right now all I’m concentrating on is the Colorado Rapids, I want to help the team get into the play-offs and win trophies. Long term is hard to think about as I’m only concentrating on the present.
“I’d love to play back in England at some point, any other countries I’m open to as well. Let’s see what the future holds in my career. You never know what may happen in the future and it is one I’m very excited for. There’s still plenty of years left in the tank for me.”