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Scrambling on defense, Colorado Rapids sign Thomas Piermayr, target second addition in John Neeskens

Pablo Mastroeni coaches the Rapids

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of ColoradoRapids.com

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The 2014 season might only be three games old for the Colorado Rapids, but they have already been forced to go outside the organization for help at one position.

The Rapids announced on Wednesday the signing of Austrian trialist Thomas Piermayr as cover at outside back, and the club is expected to sign fellow trialist John Neeskens later this week after starter Chris Klute and his backup, Marc Burch, both went down with injuries last month.

“We’re preparing without him,” Mastroeni told reporters on Wednesday of Burch’s status. “We’re looking to possibly pick up another player at [left back]. Things will be a little more clear Friday.”

Piermayr, 24, joined the Rapids on trial last month after playing against them in the Desert Diamond Cup while on trial with the Chicago Fire. The former Austria U-21 international, a veteran of stints in the Norwegian and Austrian top flights, can play both left and right back, two positions that have been early question marks for Colorado.

Klute, who signed a contract extension with the Rapids last week, injured his hamstring in the season opener against the New York Red Bulls and is not expected to return until later this month. On Saturday, Klute’s understudy, Burch, went down with a calf contusion in the second half of Colorado’s 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City and is not expected to be ready for Saturday’s trip to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps (6:30 pm ET, MLS Live).

But while Piermayr is the first official signing, a legendary name in the global game could soon be in the fold as well. Neeskens, the son of Dutch great Johan Neeskens, is close to a deal with the Rapids and could even start for the Rapids this weekend.

“I’m hoping for a solution soon and to be able to join the team as soon as possible,” the 20-year-old Neeskens, who spent time in FC Barcelona’s youth ranks, told MLSsoccer.com in Spanish on Wednesday. “I’ve enjoyed my experience here so far.”

Johan Neeskens helped lead the Netherlands to consecutive appearances in the World Cup final in 1974 and 1978, falling in heartbreaking fashion each time, and played for Ajax, Barcelona and in the NASL with the New York Cosmos.

The younger Neeskens spent time in Barcelona's famed La Masia academy and holds American, Dutch and Spanish passports. He trained with Sporting Kansas City in 2012 alongside former Barcelona teammate Uri Rosell, who signed with Kansas City.

While the Rapids have been forced to scramble for a solution at left back, Mastroeni said on Wednesday that he does not expect his defense, which has allowed four goals in Colorado’s first three games, to skip a beat this weekend.

“This train leaves the dock right after the last game, and those that are available are on board, and those that are recovering are ready to be picked up the next go-around,” Mastroeni said. “Everyone knows exactly what’s expected.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.