Pareja may give youngsters a run-out as Mullan, Casey sit

Oscar Pareja COLvSJ

Photo Credit: 
Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids will be preparing to do battle without potentially two of their most important veterans as they get ready to battle the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at what’s forecast to be a bitterly cold and potentially snowy night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Midfielder Brian Mullan (hamstring) practiced most of the week while striker Conor Casey (knee) was in and out of practice, leaving both players question marks for Saturday night’s showdown with MLS’ top club (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online). But with the Rapids out of postseason contention, head coach Oscar Pareja said he isn’t going to take chances with either player, and also mentioned on Friday that he may give an opportunity to a younger player instead.

“I want to take care of the players that need treatment in the offseason, so I can start that [now],” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.

What will also factor into Saturday night’s contest is the weather – temperatures in suburban Denver are expected to dip into the 20s during the game with light snow, which forced the Rapids to practice in jackets and pants on Friday.

“I never have good thoughts on this weather, I’m Jamaican,” bundled-up striker Omar Cummings told MLSsoccer.com. “You never get used to playing in this weather. But everyone’s playing in the same thing.”

Despite the injuries and cold weather, however, Pareja wants three points to prove to the rest of the league that the Rapids’ current place in the MLS table (seventh place in the Western Conference) does not reflect the quality of his side.

“We have the same instinct to come and fight, and I hope to see a team that is playing for pride and playing for the fans,” Pareja said. “We’re going to play against the best team in the conference so far, and I think that’s a motivation for everyone.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.