The Colorado Rapids lost their first game of the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament in the final against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.

The Rapids fell by a score of 2-0 and finished the tournament in second place. The Rapids tied Sporting Kansas City and beat both the New England Revolution and New York City Football Club en route to their second-place finish.

While a trophy is always welcome, there are more important things that the Rapids have focused on this preseason. Rapids newcomers got their first taste of MLS action and were able to begin to develop chemistry with their new teammates.

Homegrown players Kortne Ford and Richi Perez accumulated significant minutes over the course of the preseason, and both made the most of their opportunities. Ford started against the New England Revolution and looked in-sync with his defensive teammates. He positioned himself well throughout most of the preseason and showed impressive first-touch and ball-control skills that should spark offensive attacks in the future. That being said, he did have a few mishaps in his game against NYCFC, but nothing not to be expected from a first-year player. On top of that, none of his mistakes resulted in resulted goals from the other team.

Perez also shined in the minutes that head coach Pablo Mastroeni gave him. He showed great awareness in a play against the Revolution where the keeper was caught out of position after slipping and mishitting a ball, and forced the keeper to quickly recover and make a frantic save after he arched the ball accurately from the halfway line. He had a quick pace to his play, controlled the ball well and mostly made the right decisions.

First round draft pick Sam Hamilton also raised some eyebrows. His defense at the midfielder positions led to multiple steals and counterattacks during the preseason and his pace was impressive for a rookie.

As impressive as their preseasons were, it’s going to be hard for these young guys to get on the field. Ford is going to have a difficult time cracking the best defensive lineup in MLS during the 2016 season since all four starters are still with the team. The outlook for Perez and Hamilton isn’t much better. While national team standout Jermaine Jones left to join the LA Galaxy in the offseason, the Rapids brought in Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng from Manchester City in the offseason to bolster the midfielder position, and Dillon Serna is expected to return from his ACL injury early in the year.

One important note from the preseason is that goalkeeper Tim Howard didn’t play, and the Rapids’ 2016 leading scorer Shkëlzen Gashi saw very few minutes. So many of the players that were featured regularly may have a hard time getting on the field.

An interesting storyline to follow is that of former Rapid Tony Cascio. He participated in the preseason as a guest player for the Rapids in a couple of games and provided a noticeable offensive spark for the team. It’s possible for the Rapids to buy out his USL contract and bring him onto the roster.

All in all, the Rapids showed promise in the preseason, but the regular season is a different animal. The Rapids return after one of the best seasons in club history for their March 4 season opener against the New England Revolution at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.