COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Jamie Smith worked out with some hard running on the sidelines of Colorado Rapids training Tuesday morning in a bid to try and get himself considered for selection for the team’s visit to the Philadelphia Union on Friday.
The Scottish midfielder, who is second on the team in assists (three) and has also has three goals on the season, has missed the last three Rapids games with hamstring and calf problems. He took the opportunity last weekend to watch the team’s 2-2 draw against the visiting New England Revolution with the Class VI supporters group.
“Watching the game from the stands is so easy because you are the best player when you watch from the stands,” he said. “Everything looks so easy. It was just enjoyable, but it was a frustrating result, and no one is more frustrated than those guys playing on the field.”
Smith got through Tuesday’s workout with no apparent problem, but he would face a four-hour flight for the upcoming trip and, with the team leaving tomorrow Wednesday for Philadelphia, he faces a race against time.
“It’s just a tight hamstring, no strain, no tear,” he said. “It’s not allowing me to function the way I want to function. At this moment, I’m not 100 percent. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m struggling with it at the moment, but I’m not overly worried about it and I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
The impact of Smith’s absence has, however, been lessened by the strong recent play of Wells Thompson (two goals in three games) and the return of a healthy Brian Mullan. But head coach Gary Smith knows that it’s the Scotsman who gives the club some creativity and a dangerous presence on set pieces.
“What we have seen, especially from dead balls, and in that final pass, I think we have missed something,” Gary Smith said. “You can never tell what, but Jamie’s been creative in those moments and, to have him back in the group again, will be a big help, there’s no doubt about it. He gives us another dimension.”
The coach said he will take the guidance of some of the Rapids fitness staff before making a decision on this Friday’s game. The most likely scenario is to have the midfielder available on the bench.
Whether the Scotsman makes the trip or not, he and his Rapids teammates will have a tough game on their hands against a vastly improved team from their rookie MLS season.
“Clearly, they are a good team and, when they came here, it was a tough game,” the midfielder said of the 1-1 tie in Colorado June 4. “But if I had the choice between our squad and any other squad in this league, I’d take ours because I think we have the players to create the chances and open up defenses. It will be tough, but we are more than capable of going there and getting three points.”