COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Based on history, this has to be one of the most unexpected questions for the Colorado Rapids: Will Drew Moor return to the starting lineup?
Head coach Oscar Pareja acknowledged on Friday that he is still deciding on who will start at center back in Saturday’s game at Chivas USA (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) and whether the veteran Moor will reclaim his spot after serving a two-game suspension.
“We are still in the process [of figuring that out],” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com of his plan for the backline.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Shane O’Neill has impressed Pareja in two starts, nearly scoring twice in the Rapids’ 2-2 draw against Portland on March 30 and helping Colorado post their first clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake last weekend.
Moor, meanwhile, is back after spending two games on the sidelines following an arm to the face of Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas on March 23. Colorado’s defense had struggled at times early on in the season, and the 29-year-old, who played every minute of every MLS regular-season match last season, may be bench-bound as a result.
Pareja has repeatedly said that he isn’t afraid to start a young player for a prolonged period of time, and O’Neill could the third player in the lineup 22 or younger, with Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers.
“We’re considering the kids’ performance that they had,” Pareja said of O’Neill and left back Chris Klute, who have started the last two games. “The guys who are coming back into the roster, [fighting for a spot] is part of their job.”
Meanwhile, even with Moor’s return, Colorado will still be without several key players. Team captain Pablo Mastroeni will miss his third straight game with a quad strain, midfielders Martín Rivero, Kevin Harbottle and Jaime Castrillón will be out as well with injuries, although Rivero is nearing a return from a broken foot.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.