With Gabriel Torres out, will Edson Buddle get major minutes for the Colorado Rapids?

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Edson Buddle has shined for the Colorado Rapids while playing in just 32 minutes over the last two games. On Saturday night, he could get a chance to play a lot longer than that.

With newly signed striker Gabriel Torres away on international duty with Panama, Buddle, who has two goals in his last two games as a substitute, figures to be in line to replace him in the starting lineup.

It’s a huge game for Oscar Pareja’s upstart squad, which sits in a tie with the Portland Timbers for the fourth spot in the Western Conference heading into Saturday night’s showdown with the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live), and the second-year head coach could turn to Buddle to supply more goals.

“We know that Gabriel is going out on national team duties, and that’s why it’s important to have everybody healthy now,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Edson’s stepped up the last two games and for sure he will be ready to do it again, and that for sure makes us feel better.”

Pareja won’t be saving the match tape from the Rapids’ last encounter anytime soon. In last Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City, the Rapids were outclassed in the midfield and got off to an agonizingly slow start, allowing the home side to pull out the key three points and snap Colorado’s club-best nine-game unbeaten run.

Pareja fielded and attributed Saturday’s slow start to “growing pains” that his young squad has to go through – six of the Rapids’ 11 starters on Saturday were 24 or younger – in order to develop.

He hopes the Rapids learn their lesson in time for this Saturday’s all-important contest.

“We are moving forward, we are maturing,” he said. “To get better, you have to have adversity. That’s the way they mature.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.