Weary Rapids hoping to overcome Sporting KC hurdle

After a busy month of May, Colorado could be forgiven for looking ahead to a calmer June. But before they get to relax a little, the Rapids have one more hurdle to overcome when they host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. (9 pm ET; Direct Kick, MatchDay Live)

The Sporting KC game will be the sixth match for the defending MLS Cup champions this month, with four of those being grueling road trips, the last of which was Wednesday’s hectic 2-2 tie at New York.

Last Sunday, after the Rapids’ scoreless tie at home with Toronto, as a tired Kosuke Kimura headed to the showers, he mumbled, “Too many games, too many games.”

In June, there is the relative calm of four games over four weekends evenly split home and away before things go a little crazy again with a demanding July–September schedule of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League games.

But as they say, the Rapids are taking things one game at a time.

Colorado’s midweek tilt against the Red Bulls did see head coach Gary Smith make some tactical changes, which allowed him to rotate some of his players and give them some much needed rest ahead of the Sporting KC game.

Up front, after starting against Toronto last weekend, Conor Casey and Quincy Amarikwa sat on the bench until later in the second half. Smith said he expects the two forwards to feature prominently on Saturday night, as Caleb Folan (groin) and Omar Cummings (ankle) are still rehabbing their injuries.

Folan, however, is further along with his recovery than Cummings and may make a bench appearance.

Tyrone Marshall sat out Wednesday’s game but is expected to be back in central defense. That may give Smith an opportunity to rest one of his key defenders, a line that has been virtually ever-present this year.

“That back four has done a great job,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “Marvell [Wynne], Drew [Moor] and Kosuke have really got through the minutes this year.”

Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz remain key midfield components in this Rapids team, and Smith said it was always the plan to remove Mastroeni from the action after about an hour in versus New York. The duo look likely to start against Sporting KC.

“My only concern was starting Pablo, but he had a fabulous 70 minutes and now that he saw we got a good point from the game, he will be raring to go at the weekend,” Smith said after the game at Red Bull Arena.

Also in midfield, Jamie Smith was left behind in Colorado rather than traveling to New York after sustaining a calf injury against Toronto. Gary Smith said the choice to have the midfielder stay home was very much a precautionary measure and he could be available at least off the bench this weekend.