Ankle injury could sideline Cummings up to a month

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — One step forward, two steps back.

While Conor Casey looks increasingly likely to be back in the mix this weekend for the Colorado Rapids, the forward injury bug continues to afflict the MLS Cup champions with both Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan out for the match and likely longer.

Cummings sprained his ankle against Houston Dynamo a week ago in the Rapids’ come-from-behind 2-1 victory and is expected to be out for to two to four weeks, according to Rapids head coach Gary Smith, who added he was hopeful the Jamaican could be back in training sooner rather than later.

“I would hope that the injury will heal in the earlier part of that timeframe,” Smith said at Rapids training this week.

For Folan, who was subbed out after half an hour of the New England game last Saturday, the prognosis is better. Smith said an MRI of his groin muscle had revealed a “minor Grade 1 strain of the adductor.”

“It should be about 10 days before he is back with us,” Smith said.

That could mean Folan may even be part of the mix for the following Rapids home game against Toronto on May 22. For now, the focus is on getting the remaining three fit forwards ready for DC on Saturday.

Casey, who has been out since April 3 with a hamstring injury, has a 75 to 80 percent chance of playing this weekend, Smith said. It looks likely that Casey will share striking responsibilities with Quincy Amarikwa and Andre Akpan.

“Conor’s moving along very nicely,” Smith said. “I hope we will see him in the eighteen and I am positive he will be in contention for a place in the starting 11.”

It’s been a frustrating 2011 so far for the big striker, who has only played in three games and has yet to score. He and Cummings, such an integral part of the 2010 championship-winning season, have only played together for an hour this season, in the home opener against Portland on March 19.

Smith said he has full faith in Amarikwa and Akpan, both of whom have played exceptionally well given their limited MLS experience. But, he added, the team will always miss the experience and nous of a player like Casey.

“The two young lads have done very well,” Smith said. “They just don’t have the experience to draw on like Conor has. Conor just knows where the back of the net is; he knows how to sniff out an opportunity that can break the deadlock in a tight game.”