Rapids Notebook: Ababio's versatility proving valuable

C0MMERCE CITY, Colo. – The scoreline in the Colorado Rapids’ 3-1 victory over Isidro Metapán in last week’s CONCACAF Champions League game wasn’t the only surprise of the evening. Where those goals came from was also a bit of a shock.

In particular, Eddie Ababio’s goal – the opener – raised a few eyebrows as the Ghana native was making his professional debut in the game.

And it wasn’t a three-yard tap-in, either. Ababio, in his rookie season after being drafted from the University of North Carolina, took a pass from Ross LaBauex, dribbled into the penalty area, played a one-two with Quincy Amarikwa and expertly lobbed the Metapán goalkeeper in the 31st minute. Some of his teammates later claimed the lob was really a cross.

“No chance!” Ababio said last weekend. “I used to play striker when I was younger, so it came natural. It was instinct.”

Ababio played right midfield in the CCL game last week. On Sunday, he was at right back for the Rapids reserves in a 5-1 thrashing of their FC Dallas counterparts. In college, he also played up front at times.

For Ababio, that versatility is helping him learn an awful lot in his first season, one which didn’t start off so smoothly after a contract dispute. He actually left the organization for a while before returning to the fold.

“My agent and the club couldn’t agree on the terms, but they figured it out,” Ababio told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m very happy to be here, learning a lot.”

His goal in El Salvador was greeted with a special dance celebration which goes back to his college days, when he used to celebrate with former fellow Tar Heel and current US international Eric Lichaj.

“[Eric and I] used to do that dance in college all the time,” Ababio said. “He told me his first goal, he was going to do it, so I have to do it, too. He scored his first goal for Aston Villa and sent me a [phone] message to check it out. I had to do it for him in El Salvador.”

Much-needed rest for most

The Rapids are enjoying a shortened week of training this week as they find themselves without a game this weekend. Their next contest is a huge Rocky Mountain Cup match against Real Salt Lake at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Oct. 14.

Three members of the squad, though, are busy with their national teams for the upcoming FIFA dates: Omar Cummings is currently with the Jamaican squad for a friendly against Honduras on Oct. 11; midfielder Jeff Larentowicz is with the US squad for their two upcoming games against Honduras and Ecuador; and Steward Ceus, who has played a key role in the Rapids’ CCL games in goal is with his Haiti team for two World Cup qualifiers.

All three players are expected back in time for the RSL game.

Sanna Nyassi was called up by The Gambia for an African Cup of Nations qualifier this weekend against Burkina Faso, but declined to make the trip as Gambia look unlikely to progress from their group.

"So I thought it was better to stay here and help my team make the playoffs,” Nyassi told the Rapids official website. “I think it's better to stay than to go all the way to Africa and return with tired legs. I talked to the federation and they understood everything and said no problem."