Conor Casey is expected back in training this week for the Colorado Rapids, and the return of one of the league’s star strikers is perfect timing for a club in need.
Casey has not played since suffering a hamstring injury during the Rapids’ 4-1 win over D.C. United on April 3, and rejoins a Rapids group that, despite earning four points in two road matches last week, faces a litany of issues with their lineup.
Striker Caleb Folan was the latest striker to limp off early in a game, leaving the Rapids’ scoreless draw against New England on Saturday after half an hour with a groin problem. In the team's 2-1 win over Houston last week, striker Omar Cummings was substituted out at the end of the first half with a sprained ankle and was flown back to Colorado for treatment, skipping the game against the Revolution entirely.
There have also been injuries to midfielders Jamie Smith and Sanna Nyassi, as well as defender Marvell Wynne. Midfielder Brian Mullan is also still far from finished with his suspension for the recent Steve Zakuani incident, and he won’t be available for selection in the lineup until at least June 26.
“We’ve got so many bodies changing in and out because of injuries,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith said after the New England game. “It’s very difficult to find serious fluency at the moment.”
Casey is expected to be at least an option up top for the Rapids when they take on D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday, and he could pair with either Quincy Amarikwa and Andre Akpan. Cummings and Folan are unlikely to be available against D.C. United, according to a Rapids official.
Still, Smith said he was pleased the Rapids managed what they did last week despite the ongoing injury woes.
“It is very difficult at the moment,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “What is a positive is that we get additional points on the board in these difficult times.”
He also praised the play of Amarikwa and Akpan, who will likely play large roles in the team’s success in the coming weeks and perhaps longer.
“I just want to make sure we keep it fresh and don’t overdo it with the young lads,” Smith said. “But I think the pair of them are looking very bright.”