COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – If the Colorado Rapids are going to make any kind of late season charge, they’re almost certainly going to need better news on the injury front than what they’ve received lately.
And on Tuesday, that good news started to come through for the floundering Rapids, losers of six in a row.
Two important regulars in coach Pablo Mastroeni’s side are expected to make the trip to southern California for Friday night’s showdown against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Midfielders Vicente Sanchez (IT band) and Jose Mari (ankle) are both expected to be available, Mastroeni told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think he’s available,” Mastroeni said of Sanchez on Tuesday, just after saying that Jose Mari would be available as well. “At this point in the season, with what we’re going through and the amount of injuries we’ve had, it’s good to have as many people as we can healthy.”
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There may also be good news on defender Shane O’Neill’s condition. Mastroeni said last month that he anticipated the 21-year-old to miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury, but O’Neill, a regular in the starting XI when healthy, was doing full sprints at Rapids practice on Tuesday and appears on track to return from injury in the next few weeks.
The Rapids have sorely missed the Homegrown product, losing seven of eight matches while he’s been gone while giving up an average of 2.25 goals per contest over the spell. No timeline has been set for O'Neill's return to the lineup yet.
“It’s good to have him around, and hopefully he can join training in the next week or two and get him out as soon as we can,” Mastroeni said of O’Neill on Tuesday. “I think the moment he stepped out is the moment we started to have some issues along the backline.”
Meanwhile, defensive midfielder-turned-center back Jared Watts (hamstring) will miss at least a month, Mastroeni said on Tuesday, which would leave the rookie out for much of the remainder of the regular season.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.