COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Heading into Sunday’s Eastern Conference Semifinal first leg at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, injuries to Jamie Smith and Pablo Mastroeni raised concerns about the Colorado Rapids midfield. Heading into the second leg on Wednesday (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer/TSN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), it’s the defense’s turn to cause the defending champions headaches.
In a physical affair versus Sporting Kansas City, the Rapids lost Drew Moor and Kosuke Kimura to injury and Tyrone Marshall to a red card in the second half. That means that of the four Colorado backline regulars, only one will be available in Kansas City, Marvell Wynne being the last man standing. The 25-year old knows it will be a major challenge dealing with the likes of Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong on their home turf, but he's keeping faith in whomever steps in on the back line.
“I play with these guys daily and I have confidence in all of them just as they have confidence in my abilities,” Wynne told MLSsoccer.com. “I don’t think this is going to be the hardest game of my career just because the regulars are not there. I don’t think like that.”
Wynne seems certain to line up in central defense with Scott Palguta, who finished Sunday’s game in that position. The fullbacks are likely to be regular midfielder Wells Thompson and Miguel Comminges.
Wynne said he is also ready to assume a greater leadership role along the backline. Normally, Moor is the one doing most of the talking, he said.
“I can do that,” he said. “Drew typically holds the back line and I may go a little higher. I’ll have Scott next to me and he’s pretty vocal too. We are all going to have to rely on each other a bit more.”
Moor and Kimura started all but two games of Colorado’s MLS regular season, scoring a combined five goals and holding opposing MLS offenses to 41 goals. With their absence on Wednesday, head coach Gary Smith expects Wynne to step up.
"Marvell could cover all four positions on his own," Smith said of his speedy centerback. "It won’t be a problem. The guys that step in on any occasion have got to [assume leadership]. I have absolutely no doubt that all 11 players that walk onto that field will be inspired, believe they can get something out of the game and will have no more thought than to put Kansas under some pressure.”