Rapids finally returning to full health after injury plague

Pablo Mastroeni

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – For the second time in a month, Colorado Rapids fans collectively held their breaths as team captain Pablo Mastroeni took a blow to the head and was forced to leave a game early.

But for the second time in the same time frame, Rapids fans can breathe a big sigh of relief.

Mastroeni fully returned to practice Tuesday, just three days after being removed during the second half of the Rapids’ 2-0 First Kick win over the Columbus Crew this past Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Mastroeni took a knock to the head in the 73rd minute and came off immediately afterwards, holding his head and looking shaken.

But he appeared to be fine just minutes after the Colorado victory, delivering the game ball to head coach Oscar Pareja in the locker room shortly afterwards. And he was back in action Tuesday after passing cognitive tests on Monday.

“With Pablo, we are being cautious,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Pablo has a history with [head] problems so we will be careful with it. But he looks OK.”

That history primarily goes back to last October, when the 35-year-old veteran suffered a season-ending head-injury. He was then removed for precautionary reasons from a preseason game in Hawaii last month with a similar head injury, which also turned out to be a false alarm.

Mastroeni is listed as probable for Sunday’s game and is expected to start.

Elsewhere in the midfield, the Rapids remain optimistic that the International Transfer Request (ITC) for Argentine playmaker Martin Rivero will arrive in time for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia (4 pm ET; NBC Sports).

Casey, Smith back to fitness training; Freeman questionable

Conor Casey (Achilles) and Jamie Smith (knee) both participated in the fitness portion of Tuesday’s practice. Neither player is expected to play this week, however, defender Hunter Freeman (foot) fully participated in practice and could be available for Sunday’s road opener.

All three missed Saturday’s win through injury.

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