Rapids' Palguta making most of rare starts at left back
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — If you are a squad player rather than a regular starter, you're required to have a lot of patience and persistence.
For the Colorado Rapids, perhaps no player has been quite as patient or persistent as defender Scott Palguta.
Palguta has been involved in the game-day 18 for every Rapids league game this season, but he has played in only four of the team’s 15 games, starting three of them. His latest start came in last weekend's 1-0 win at Portland, for which he earned an honorable mention on MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week.
The start came just days after he had flown to Houston to play for the Rapids reserves in 100-degree heat.
“I was only supposed to play 45 in Houston, but it ended up being about 70 — which was good for my fitness, but those were harsh, tough conditions,” Palguta told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not easy because everybody wants to be in the starting 11, but whether I get 20, 10 or 90 minutes, it’s always an opportunity to prove myself and keep me in the coaches’ minds.”
Palguta has rotated this season with both Anthony Wallace and Drew Moor at left back, though he is also an option in central defense. Danny Earls is also on the bench as another left back option. With so many options in that position, Palguta said he knew he would be playing in Portland only as late as the day before the game.
“I think it was more the way Portland plays and the fact their pitch is always slick,” he said. “Games there are never going to be pretty, but they will always be exciting. I think it suited my style.”
Colorado coach Gary Smith has tended to play Palguta in more defensive games on the road while opting for Wallace when a more attacking flair is necessary for home games. However, ahead of the Rapids' home game against LA on Saturday, Palguta was playing a small-sided scrimmage with the first team on Tuesday while Wallace played a similar game with the squad players.
“I hope I’ve done enough [to earn a start], but we’ll have to see,” Palguta said.
“Scott has really knuckled down and got himself very fit,” Rapids assistant Steve Guppy told MLSsoccer.com. “There’s been some extremely good performances from Marvell [Wynne] and Drew to keep him out. Everyone wants to play and there’s been a lot of effort from these guys behind the scenes. When you get a chance, you just have to take it.”