COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – At some point, the Colorado Rapids will be granted a reprieve from the laundry list of injuries that have bogged them all season long. But it won’t be coming Saturday night when the Rapids face the Montreal Impact at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park without five of their regular starters (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
It’s been one injury after another for Oscar Pareja’s squad, the latest casualty being star striker Conor Casey, who went down with a hamstring strain on Thursday. Striker Omar Cummings, defender Marvell Wynne, midfielder Brian Mullan and Casey could all be back for the Burgundy for their June 16 tilt in Vancouver.
But first, the Rapids will have to weather the storm of Saturday’s key tilt against Montreal. Cummings, Wynne, Casey, Mullan and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni will all be forced to sit out Saturday against a scuffling Montreal side that’s collected just one point from its last three matches.
“Every game it brings you different challenges, you could call them extra challenges but different challenges,” Pareja (above) told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “You play against Montreal that is just getting new players and this is the first time that they come here, but at the same time it’s a team that can surprise.”
One potential boost for Pareja could be arriving in the form of Scottish midfielder Jamie Smith, who played 63 minutes in a Reserve League match on Wednesday and could make his season debut Saturday. Smith tore his ACL last October and the 31-year-old is getting close to making his full return.
“Jamie did very well yesterday, he’s better than we thought he would be,” Pareja said of Smith’s performance in Wednesday’s 2-2 Reserve League draw with Houston. “But first of all and most importantly is that we are trying to get [an idea] with Jamie and bring him in slowly. But yesterday he did well. He‘s feeling okay and the reaction from his body has been positive.”
However, for Smith to play, the Rapids will have to clear an international spot off their roster. Without a transaction, Smith will be ineligible for Saturday’s contest.
Meanwhile, Colorado will be facing former player Sanna Nyassi, who was selected by Montreal in the 2011 Expansion Draft. Nyassi recorded five goals in 26 appearances for the Rapids a season ago, and has one goal in 11 appearances for the Impact.
The Rapids are coming off a back-and-forth 2-2 draw against Sporting KC last Saturday, and will look to fight through an extra round of injuries to move up the Western Conference standings. A victory could help the 5-6-1 Rapids leapfrog Vancouver for fourth place in the West.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.