Forget a Designated Player. Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja might want to invest in a four-leaf clover.
The Rapids suffered yet another critical injury loss on Saturday when starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens went down in the fourth minute of Colorado’s 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake with a broken left forearm.
Pickens’ loss is only the latest in a string of injuries to key players for Colorado. The Rapids have already lost last year’s leading scorer Jaime Castrillón (knee), last year’s leading assist man Martín Rivero (broken foot) and captain Pablo Mastroeni (hamstring) so far this season, and now the team’s starting goalkeeper of the last four seasons will be out for a significant amount of time as well.
In the fourth minute, Real Salt Lake’s Kwame Watson-Siriboe’s head crashed into Pickens’ left forearm while the two were battling for the ball off a corner kick, and the 30-year-old Pickens went down immediately with sharp pain.
“I just thought we just collided, after that he went down and he started screaming,” Watson-Siriboe said. “It’s definitely sad. It sucks.”
Rapids defender Drew Moor said it was clear almost immediately Pickens was seriously injured.
“It just sounded and looked like a brutal injury,” Moor said. “He knew it right away and I think everyone in the vicinity heard it. It was bad, and we’ve seen a few of these before. It’s never fun.”
Added Rapids defender Brian Mullan: “That stuff happens on the field. Unfortunately it’s just body parts in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Pickens remained on the ground in obvious pain for roughly five minutes before he was helped off the field and rushed to an area hospital. A Rapids official told MLSsoccer.com that although a timetable has not been set for his return, Pickens was expected to undergo surgery on Saturday night in Salt Lake City. It was unclear if he would travel back with the team to Denver on Sunday.
“At the end of the day, it’s just unfortunate for him and the club and the team not to have him,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said. “But it happens.”
Pickens was replaced by rookie Clint Irwin, who made three saves in the draw.
Pareja said that although Watston-Siriboe was whistled for a foul on the play and issued a yellow card, he doesn’t expect any further action from the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
"That's the game," Pareja said. "It's just the game."
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.