COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It’s been a season of trials and tribulations for the Colorado Rapids, but finally, it appears that much-needed relief from an injury crisis is coming for the men in burgundy.
Key veterans Brian Mullan, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings could all return when the Rapids head to Vancouver for a Saturday evening matchup with the Whitecaps (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“At this point, we are evaluating and, I wouldn’t say not even every day, but kind of every hour to see if they are in a match-fit situation for us,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I’m going to say that I’m still waiting on a couple guys for training [Friday].
"But definitely I say that Brian is the one who is closer to his recovery, but the other ones we are still analyzing and exploring to see what is their condition.”
The last time the Rapids took the pitch for an MLS regular-season match, they had to make do without five regular starters in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Impact May 26. But with Mullan, Casey and Cummings all potentially back in the fold, it could mean big things for the inconsistent Rapids, whose record sits at 6-6-1.
“[The] leg’s feeling good, just kind of monitoring it and trying to work my way back to full fitness,” said Casey, who’s battled a hamstring strain for close to a month. “I felt good for the minutes I got in those games [in May], so obviously I’m not 100 percent in shape, but I felt like I was working towards it.”
One concern for Pareja and the Rapids will be the turf at BC Place, which in particular could limit Cummings. The Jamaican speedster practiced with the first team Thursday, but is battling back from a sprained ankle and has fought ankle problems for more than a year.
But Pareja said the turf won’t be a major factor in deciding whether to play someone Saturday.
“I’m going to be honest, this is our job, this is our profession,” Pareja said. “It is what it is. You’re healthy or you are not healthy.”
Scottish midfielder Jamie Smith, who is recovering from an ACL tear last October, could also make his season debut after scoring two goals in a Reserve League match last weekend. The Rapids have been off since their 2-0 US Open Cup loss to Sporting Kansas City on June 5, and haven’t played a league match since May 26.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.