Much of the talk surrounding the Colorado Rapids lately has been about the club’s pursuit of Hull City striker Caleb Folan. That means there's been little mention of the Conor Casey and Omar Cummings partnership — a vaunted collaboration that combined for 29 goals and nine assists for the MLS Cup champions last year.
Cummings didn’t score during the preseason trip to Arizona (Casey netted twice), but that won’t bother the Jamaican, who is adjusting to life back in Colorado after a brief training stint in England with Aston Villa.
The Villa experience was cut short late in January, officially due to problems getting Cummings a work permit. However, observers — and Cummings himself — suggested it may have had more to do with Villa’s signing of Darren Bent from Sunderland.
The Jamaican said he would have liked to have stayed a bit longer in Birmingham.
“It felt a bit quick for me,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I didn’t want to come back that early but, once I was back, it felt good to be back in Colorado.”
[inline_node:329310]Upon arriving at Villa, Cummings was still suffering somewhat from a thigh injury picked up at the end of the MLS season. As a result, the striker admitted he was operating at around 50 percent in his first week there.
“But once the first week ran off, the second week was a much better week,” he said. “I scored some goals, I improved my fitness and things went better from there.”
Cummings enjoyed the company of his Villa teammates, specifically mentioning England striker Emile Heskey and US goalkeeper Brad Guzan, now on loan with Hull City. Heskey, a good friend of Rapids assistant coach Steve Guppy, may even have his eyes on the MLS in the future.
“Heskey was one of the first guys I started talking to,” Cummings said. “He was asking me questions.”
Life in England wasn’t always glamorous, Cummings admitted. There was a lot of hanging around in hotel rooms with not much to do other than watch television. He did enjoy the conversations with the taxi drivers who would come and pick him up every day to take him to training. To a man, they were Villa supporters and hated crosstown rivals Birmingham City.
However, he enjoyed his training sessions and appreciated the learning experience.
“Definitely the speed of play is key over there,” Cummings said. “They are very strong, a lot of aggression.”
Nick Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @rapidsstuff.