CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The troops are slowly starting to trickle back in for the injury-riddled Colorado Rapids.
Out since January 29 with a broken foot, midfielder Martín Rivero practiced fully for the first time on Wednesday, and he appears close to returning – and providing a major boost to the Rapids lineup.
“Martin has just started doing field training today,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters. “That’s a big step forward. How long [until he's available for match action]? I’d say maybe two weeks. But we’ll see how he goes in the next two days for him.”
The 23-year-old Argentine was a sensation at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2012, his first season in MLS after arriving on loan from Argentina’s Rosario Central in February 2012. The diminutive attacking midfielder led Colorado with eight assists while starting 30 games a year ago, providing slick passing and set-piece delivery as he become a fixture in Pareja’s starting lineup.
This year, however, got off to an unfortunate start for the Rapids’ primary creative midfielder. In the first half of the their preseason opener against Portland in January, Rivero turned on a pass and awkwardly fell to the grass, the victim of a fractured right foot.
GOAL: Rivero smashes one in at the near post
It was the first serious injury of Rivero’s young career, and developing trust in his foot has been an issue for him in the wake of the injury.
“When I first started to train in the field, when I was just starting to touch the ball, I had a little fear,” Rivero said on Wednesday, while adding that he doesn’t feel the injury anymore. “But that’s gone now.”
Rivero started to jog earlier this month, but took part in almost all of Wednesday’s drills, including high-intensity scrimmages. While he's still likely a few weeks away from returning, the Rapids are hoping to get him involved in Saturday’s reserve match against Seattle.
“Today was the first time I got to train with the group fully, and I’m glad I felt good,” said Rivero, who is working on conditioning before returning to the field. “It doesn’t hurt, and I’m trying not to think about the injury now that I’m practicing.”
Rivero and Pablo Mastroeni – who also trained on Wednesday as he recovers from a quad injury – could soon provide a boost to Colorado’s injury-depleted midfield, which has suffered the losses of Rivero, Mastroeni, newcomer Kevin Harbottle and last season’s leading scorer, Jaime Castrillon.
Edson Buddle (back) and Brian Mullan (foot) both missed Wednesday’s training with what the team considered to be minor injuries. The team is evaluating both players to determine their availability for Saturday’s game against Seattle (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.