COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Kosuke Kimura is glad the Colorado Rapids coaching staff left him off the bus to Houston last weekend. Instead, the right back much rather welcomes a return to at least the Rapids’ bench in the more familiar and comfortable surroundings of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against New York on Sunday night.
Although the Japanese defender, who has been out of the Colorado line-up since injuring his ankle in the team’s warm-up just minutes before facing the LA Galaxy on May 4, was almost ready to return in the sweltering 95-degree heat and intense humidity of Texas last weekend, head coach Gary Smith and his staff decided that the dry, 70-degree weather at home was a much better for the player’s comeback.
“I dehydrate like crazy down there in Houston,” Kimura told MLSsoccer.com this week at Rapids’ training. “Gary told me it wouldn’t be fair to put me out on the field, so I stayed here and worked on my fitness and ball work.”
It’s been a bit of a trek back to fitness for Kimura, one of the hardest working players in Colorado and, arguably, the MLS. He has worked every day on building up the muscles in his ankle and leg: “Twice a day, every day,” he said.
Thankfully, the World Cup hiatus helped give him that extra time to restore fitness while not missing any games. All Kimura needs now is playing time.
“I’m ready to go. I’m doing well,” he said. “I just have to start playing again, to get on the pitch and go wherever Gary wants me to go.”
It looks likely that Kimura will start on the bench for tomorrow’s game. While Julien Baudet remains unavailable because of injury, the Rapids will probably field an unchanged back four with Scott Palguta partnering with Drew Moor in the center and Marvell Wynne and Danny Earls as the outside backs.
Smith is delighted to have Kimura back and fit, especially with Baudet missing.
“When first team players come back, they clearly add competition to the group,” Smith said. “Kimura gives us an energy and a tenaciousness that will be needed at some point, and it will be great to have him back in the 18 and challenging for a spot.”
The game against the Red Bulls kicks off at 9 pm ET. The Rapids have won the last two games at home against New York by 4-0 margins.