With full-strength attack, Rapids expect result vs. Crew

Omar Cummings and Conor Casey.

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids will soon be getting all dressed up for a trip to the White House on Monday. But before that, they have the small matter of an away game at the Columbus Crew on Sunday (8 pm ET; watch LIVE online).

The reigning MLS Cup champs will be keen to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to the LA Galaxy. And the good news for the Rapids is that they have a little more firepower to help them do just that.

Three key players who couldn't start last week should return on Sunday. Midfielder Jamie Smith, who withdrew from the Galaxy game shortly before kick off with a tight hamstring, is expected to go a full 90 minutes. Omar Cummings, who came off the bench last weekend to electrify the Rapids attack in the second half, is expected to start alongside Conor Casey (Caleb Folan will sit out because of his red card on Saturday).

And then there’s midfielder Brian Mullan, who is eligible to play for the first time since April 22 after he was suspended for a tackle that broke Seattle Sounders winger Steve Zakuani’s leg.

“I haven’t made a complete conclusion over what we will do [about Mullan] at the weekend, but just to have him back in the team, to be part of a decision making process, is really good news,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith said. “It’s almost like having a new player.”

Smith admitted he is expecting something out of the Crew game because of the returning players.

“It certainly takes us a step closer to a more competitive team—a more dangerous team going forward especially, and one that is more confident,” he said. “There’s more confidence in each other to get the job done and I would expect at least a point.”

One other key player may have to wait one more game as he sits out a nagging injury. Though Marvell Wynne is stepping closer to the gameday 18, Smith said if the defender does make the trip this weekend, he will play a bench role.

On the morning after the Crew game, the Rapids will fly to Washington, to be honored by President Obama for their championship last year.