COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The bad news for Gary Smith and the Colorado Rapids is that they face two away games in the space of four days. The good news is that much of the injury crisis of recent weeks is beginning to clear up just in time for the upcoming trip.
Quincy Amarikwa, Caleb Folan, Marvell Wynne and Wells Thompson, all absent from the 1-1 draw against Chicago last weekend, will be making the journey to Houston for Wednesday’s game (8:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live) and New England for Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).
“The four bodies back for this trip will give us a boost for all sorts of reasons because it just gives us a different dimension,” Smith said.
Thompson, who was suffering from food poisoning at the weekend, looks almost certain to start given that Sanna Nyassi will not be making the trip because of a sore back. Smith said he is hopeful Nyassi will be able to make it out separately for the New England game.
Wynne is recovering from a hamstring pull and appeared to have few remaining symptoms at training this morning. He could start on Wednesday night in the center of defense, but Smith will be mindful of the New England game, too.
Andre Akpan certainly grabbed his chance up front at the weekend with a Goal of the Week nomination [VOTE HERE].
Now, he faces competition from the returning Folan and Amarikwa. Both looked sharp in a small-sided game this morning, with Amarikwa netting two goals in customary energetic fashion and declaring he could do even more if his injured ankle wasn’t only at 85 percent.
Watch: Akpan's first MLS goal
With the two games so close to each other, though, it seems likely Akpan will start in the Houston game with potentially some role for either Folan or Amarikwa later on. Akpan was lining up Tuesday with Omar Cummings in practice, while Folan and Amarikwa played together at the end of the session. Smith was just happy to have options again.
“Generally, I think the team has played well and there is nothing in the way they are playing to suggest that the addition of a couple of players cannot but help to push us on to success,” he said.
One player absent for sure will be Conor Casey. The forward is at least back at training but working out separately for the most part. Smith said he expects Casey, out since April 3 when he limped off with a hamstring injury against D.C. United, to be back in full training next week.