Rapids' Rivero, Castrillon may return sooner than expected

DENVER – The Colorado Rapids could be getting two key pieces back earlier than they thought after suffering what appeared to be two big blows early in 2013.

First came the announcement that Jaime Castrillón, who led the team with eight goals in 2012, would be out several months with a right knee injury. Then, in their preseason opener, Martín Rivero (above) broke his foot and was ruled out for two to three months.

But, Rivero told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday night that he is eyeing a return in about five or six weeks, putting him on track to return either in the last week of March or in the first week of April. Castrillón, meanwhile, is targeting a June return from a knee surgery, potentially leaving him in line to return on the early side of the 4-5 month timeframe the team gave last week.

“As soon as I can,” Castrillón told MLSsoccer.com when asked about a potential return date. “I want to have the opportunity to help my team as soon as possible.”

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Rivero and Castrillon are key components of head coach Oscar Pareja’s 4-3-3 attack, with Rivero serving as the distributor and Castrillón a versatile midfielder with a nose for goal. Rivero is entering the final year of a two-year loan while Castrillón was re-signed by the team just this week.

For the Argentine Rivero, who led the Rapids with eight assists in 2012, he’s trying to maintain a positive viewpoint after suffering the first prolonged injury of his career.

“It’s my first serious injury,” Rivero told MLSsoccer.com at a local supporters group function in Denver on Saturday. “It’s complicated, but it happens to every player and it’s an experience.”

Meanwhile, Castrillón is hoping to have surgery in the next week or two. Team doctors discovered knee problems in his exit physical in November, and he will now undergo unspecified right knee surgery in the next few weeks.

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Castrillón, who was reportedly linked to Colombian club Millionarios in the offseason, acknowledged there was interest from his native country, but ultimately he chose to stay in Colorado because he enjoyed his first season in Colorado after arriving from Colombia in January 2012.

“I like playing in this league and the Rapids,” Castrillón said. “I’m happy, and hopefully, I’ll get better soon.”

The Rapids hope they’ll be enjoying Castrillón’s and Rivero’s services this season, and perhaps both players could return to the field a little earlier than initially thought.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.