COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – This time last year Omar Cummings and Conor Casey were considered among the best striker combos in all of MLS.
They haven’t played a single minute together since.
The Rapids are hoping that changes on Saturday night when they host the Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Casey and Cummings have tag-teamed injuries all season, but both are expected to start Saturday, which would mark the first time the duo would be in action since last July 16 – the date when Casey ruptured his Achilles during the first half of a 4-3 loss in Seattle.
“I’m feeling better, definitely getting my fitness back,” said Cummings, who has been out since May 6 with a sprained ankle. “There are times my ankle can get a little sore, but [I] not try to overdo it, overwork it too much.”
The Rapids are looking to Casey and Cummings to help them bounce back after consecutive heart-breaking defeats the past two weeks. On June 16, Colorado lost 1-0 in Vancouver despite playing up a man, hitting the woodwork twice in the match’s final 10 minutes. And last Wednesday, they allowed two goals to San Jose in the match’s final 10 minutes to lose 2-1.
“For me, succeeding is not a one- or two-game thing,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com Thursday. “I think it’s a process and we know where we’re going. The players have been training more during the week, and they know that working hard is the only way to bounce back into good results. A lot of positive things have happened and we use that as a foundation and we start building from that on.”
Aside from the Timbers – who will be coming in fresh off a Cascadia Cup 2-1 win over the Sounders last weekend – Mother Nature could also prove to be a formidable opponent. Record-setting temperatures forced the Rapids to cancel Wednesday’s practice, and pushed up training sessions to 9 am the rest of this week, and the mercury is expected to be deep into the 90s for Saturday’s game.
It’ll be a slog – something that Colorado is actually counting on as a bit of help.
“With the heat, with the altitude, we have to take advantage,” defender and captain Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We have to get after Portland and any other team that comes in with this kind of heat. But at the end of the day, it’s the same for both teams.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.