Before I even dive into some highlights from this week’s action, I first need to apologize for the delay (come on, who WASN’T distracted by all this US Open Cup action!?) and also take some time to overview the injuries that have drastically depleted the Rapids’ roster and impacted Colorado’s effectiveness on the field (even if the final score says otherwise).
As far as long term injuries go, defender Anthony Wallace is out (probably for the season) with an Achilles tear, and midfielder and long time captain Pablo Mastroeni is still out with what the official injury report is calling “headaches,” the result of multiple concussions over the course of his career. Although he has apparently been symptom free for a couple of weeks and has started doing light running and biking, there is still no timetable for his return; I sort of have a gut feeling we’ll never see Pablo take the field in a Rapids kit again, but only time will tell.
Defender Marvell “fastest legs in the league” Wynne is still out with a hamstring strain, and his absence is felt deeply (especially with Wallace also being out); newly fit veteran forward Conor Casey is also sidelined with a similar injury, while the other half of this playmaking duo, Omar Cummings, is out with a sprained ankle. Midfielder Brian Mullan is out with a knee sprain.
One (sort of) bright spot in all of this is that midfielder Jamie Smith (a personal favorite of yours truly), who has been out since last year with a torn ACL, played in a Rapids reserves match this past week, the first match since his injury. However, Colombian newcomer Harrison Henoa is currently sitting in Smith’s international roster spot, so it remains to be seen how things will play out once Smith is fully fit. (Is it worth noting here that Henoa is on loan to the Rapids..? Maybe..?)
Despite this lengthy list of as-of-now unavailable players, the Rapids have done pretty well for themselves this week.
Colorado hosted Montreal Impact on Saturday and won what can really only be described as a weird three points. Although Montreal had 60% possession to the Rapids’ 40% and slightly better pass accuracy, Colorado made better use of their chances and ultimately, the 10-man Rapids, down a man after Marshall’s second yellow of the night for a reckless tackle in the 61st minute, just got plain lucky with their game-winning goal. I can’t even describe how it played out; you should really just skip to about 8:15 and see for yourself.
It’s the kind of thing where if it happens to your team, it’s awesome…but if it happens against your team, you’re probably pretty upset. It wasn’t a normal game, and it wasn’t a pretty one, either. But ugly points count for the same amount as pretty ones, and at the end of the day, the numbers say Colorado won 3-2, and are sitting at 4th in the Western Conference.
In a pretty quick turnaround, 12 players who saw time against Montreal made the trip to Tampa for the Rapids’ US Open Cup clash with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Edu, Akpan and Hill all found the back of the net, but the Rowdies kept pushing and made Rapids keeper Steward Ceus put in some serious work until they ultimately put a point on the board in second half stoppage time. It’s unclear whether the ball was even fully over the line, and without the benefit of multiple camera angles, we can only speculate. Stew Ceus was clearly upset at losing his clean sheet, but he was definitely my man of the match; he’s a quality player and the Rapids are extremely lucky to have him. I have no fear that we’ll be taken care of should first team keeper Matt Pickens ever be unable to play. I also feel like props need to be given to Rowdies’ supporters Ralph’s Mob for staying loud and proud for the full 90, you guys sounded great on the stream. (Also, thanks to the Rowdies for providing the stream.)
Colorado’s 3-1 Open Cup win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies means they’ll face Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City on Tuesday, June 5th; the two teams last met in a league match on May 19th at Dicks Sporting Goods Park, which ended in a 2-2 draw. If Coach Oscar Pareja is taking this competition seriously, and I think he is, I would expect to see some more first team players on the pitch during this match, which could be a tough match, depending on who SKC decides to field. With a full 11 days between this USOC match and the next league match, and with a variety of player options available (I’d LOVE to see Stew Ceus keep getting some play time), I see no reason that the Rapids cannot remain competitive in both competitions, especially if they continue to build on the momentum that they’ve started this past week.
(image courtesy of Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids)