COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Colorado Rapids coach Oscar Pareja can finally breathe a little bit easier this weekend.
The heart of his midfield is set to return from extended injury absences for Sunday’s clash with the Houston Dynamo (5 ET, UniMas) at BBVA Compass Stadium. Pareja confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Friday that both Martín Rivero and team captain Pablo Mastroeni will travel for the game, and for Rivero, it could be the first time Colorado’s assists leader from 2012 plays this season.
“It is exciting to have the boys back,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Friday.
Rivero has been out since late January with a broken foot and recently resumed training, while Mastroeni has been out with a quad injury that he suffered March 23 against the Galaxy.
But even with Rivero and Mastroeni both set to return – Pareja didn’t clarify on Friday if he intends to start either player – the injury-plagued Rapids will still be without several key players for Sunday’s game against surging Houston.
Rookie striker Deshorn Brown (quad) won’t travel to Houston, and fellow striker Edson Buddle (knee) is unlikely to travel, although Pareja said the team would make a final determination on Buddle’s status on Saturday morning. Starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens (broken forearm), center backs Diego Calderón (knee) and Marvell Wynne (quad) along with midfielders Kevin Harbottle (knee) and Jamie Castrillón (knee) will all miss this weekend’s clash.
But this weekend, at least, the Rapids will have two key players returning for duty, forcing Pareja to have to do something for his midfield that he hasn’t had to do all season: Make selections rather than simply play who’s available.
“That’s a good problem to have,” Pareja said. “When you have in the team quality you have competition.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.