With time running out, Rapids know consistency is a must

Pareja, COL v CHV preview

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The math is beginning to paint a bleak picture for the slumping Colorado Rapids.

With 10 games to go in the 2012 season, the Rapids are 12 points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, meaning they will need to collect three points nearly every game the rest of the way, starting with Saturday night’s clash against equally desperate Chivas USA (9 pm ET, MLS Live) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The key to making that happen? Consistency. Something Colorado has lacked for most of the season.

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“We have to keep continuing to do the things we’ve done well, and work on our faults – concentration, small moments where we lose that responsibility,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I want to have a team that’s more consistent for 90 minutes, because to get points, we need consistency in our play.”

The Rapids have been consistently on the wrong side of the scoresheet of late, losing seven of their last eight league matches, with six of those seven defeats coming by just a single goal. They’ve also tumbled from the fifth spot in the West to the eighth thanks to a two-month slump, which includes a 2-4-0 home record in their last six league matches.

But the good news for Pareja’s side is that two of his veteran players look ready to return from injury. Striker Conor Casey and defender Tyrone Marshall have both been training with the team this week, and Casey told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday that he’s hoping to be available for Saturday’s game after missing the last two games with right hamstring tightness.

Meanwhile, midfielder Jaime Castrillón will be unavailable after picking up a late red card in the Rapids’ 3-2 loss at FC Dallas last Saturday. Wells Thompson, Kamani Hill and Jamie Smith could be options to fill in for the Colombian in his attacking midfield role.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.