The MLS Cup 2010 champion Colorado Rapids are due to take the field for the first time this year on Thursday as the team’s preseason kicks into gear.
Once the physicals and indoor fitness tests are out of the way in the early part of the week, the players will have the opportunity to get grass under their feet when they start the grueling twice-a-day practice sessions.
Head coach Gary Smith will take this week to get reacquainted with the players that remain from last season as well as get to know the new faces a little better.
Smith hasn’t seen much of his squad in the brief offseason period. Apart from a local magazine shoot where he met up with Conor Casey and Pablo Mastroeni to celebrate the MLS Cup success and checking in with major injury worry Macoumba Kandji as well as Omar Cummings during his stint in England, Smith said he hadn’t talked with many of the players at all.
“The vast majority of them have been away from the club and I have had no contact whatsoever,” he told MLSsoccer.com recently. “I am looking forward to getting back with them all.”
Smith did say that Rapids fitness coach John Ireland – who was instrumental in keeping the squad healthy last season – had been in regular contact with all the players during the offseason to check fitness regimens and health.
The coach also revealed that Kandji had first been looked after by the training staff at his former club, the New York Red Bulls, as the forward began his lengthy recovery from the ligament injury sustained in setting up the winning goal in MLS Cup.
“Mac has sounded very upbeat,” Smith said. “It was nice for him to have his girlfriend and family around him in New York because he needed some good support to keep him in a good mental state. I am very grateful for the Red Bulls that they helped him in his early recovery.”
The Rapids have revealed part of their preseason plans, which include a trip to Arizona for some training and exhibition games next month, but have not yet confirmed whether the club will travel to London to train at sister club Arsenal’s practice fields. Smith said earlier this month he was confident such a trip will take place.
The coach also said he was “moving ever closer” to signing an unidentified player currently performing in the Greek league. He said the player had played in England before but was not English.