COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — In January, Anthony Wallace was playing for the US national team against Chile. For most of this season, though, he has been as likely to feature in reserve games against semi-pro teams in suburban Denver as he has to be playing for the Colorado Rapids first team in MLS play.
The attacking left back has been in and out of the team in 2011 after making himself first choice in that position in the Rapids run to MLS Cup last year.
A combination of injuries and head coach Gary Smith’s rotation policy — exacerbated by the ongoing search for his most consistent back four — has meant Wallace is often the odd man out. The 22-year-old is hoping for a better second half of the season.
“Definitely, it’s been a frustrating year,” he told MLSsoccer.com at training on Tuesday. “Of course, things don’t always go your way with things you can’t control, but I definitely see myself in the mix still.”
It promises to be a very busy next three months for the Rapids as their fixture list swells with CONCACAF Champions League matches, and Smith says he will need as many bodies as possible to cope with the flurry.
“Anthony is still a big part of the rotational policy that I have in place for certain individuals,” Smith said. “He will always be a good addition to this group and is still a young, developing player. To not have him in the group, and get a run of games in, is disappointing because he’s a talented player.”
Smith said the defender is closer to being considered for selection than he has been in several weeks. Wallace, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury, was working out hard on the sidelines of Rapids training this week and expects to be available for selection for the team’s next home game August 5 against the Columbus Crew.
“Of course, I’m just waiting to be actually ready to play and for the coach to call my number,” the defender said.
Wallace can only hope he spends less time injured during the Rapids’ hectic second-half slate and give himself a chance to regain some of the form he showed last year.
“There are a lot of games and we’ve already played a lot of games,” Smith said. “So, keeping those [squad] guys fit and available is a big part of that.”