The Colorado Rapids announced Wednesday that forward Zizi Roberts will undergo a season-ending knee operation, opening the door for the team to sign Cuban striker Alberto Delgado.
The team also waived defender Adrian Cann. The transitional international who had just played eleven minutes with the Black and Blue since being selected by the team in the second round (16th overall) in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 16, was set to become a senior international at the end of the season.
Roberts, who has been limited to five matches this season, opted at the time of a similar knee injury last season to pursue a conservative treatment plan focusing on immobilization and rest. However, the 2003 Liberian Player of the Year has not yet made a full recovery and now faces surgery.
A large, physical forward, Roberts joined the Rapids in 2003 and proved to be a fine complement to the smaller, quicker John Spencer. Roberts scored five goals in only 12 games played last season. Both Spencer and Roberts have now suffered knee injuries this season. Spencer has only made seven appearances in Colorado's 12 games, scoring one goal, while Roberts notched one goal in his five appearances.
Although head coach Tim Hankinson has seen his two first-choice strikers go down, that has opened the door for new talent to come in and make a contribution. Jean-Philippe Peguero, a Haitian international who joined the club on March 31, has recorded 10 points in only nine games played. His four goals lead the team and he has started in every match in which he has appeared.
Hankinson will be looking for Delgado to have a similar impact. A childhood friend of the Rapids' and Major League Soccer's only other Cuban player, Rey Angel Martinez, the 25-year-old Delgado joins the Rapids after spending the greater part of his career in his native land. He made international headlines when he and Martinez defected in Los Angeles in 2002 during the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He made international appearances at nearly every level of the Cuban national team, including the U-17, U-23 and full squads. Delgado is expected to make his MLS debut Wednesday when the Rapids face the MetroStars at Giants Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.