COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Jeff Larentowicz hasn’t thought much this season about having a rest. He’s certainly not thinking about it now.
Though a break is well deserved for the ever-present Colorado Rapids central midfielder, he is chomping at the bit to be involved in both Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League game against Santos Laguna in Mexico (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer) and at the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend in two crucial games that will help decide the Rapids’ fate on two fronts.
Wins in both of those games will secure both CCL knockout-stage participation and a second-place wildcard playoff position and home play-in game in the MLS postseason.
“This is the fun time of the year,” Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com. ”We have Champions League on the line and a game in Mexico, and I don’t want to miss that. And Saturday’s important because we don’t want another road game [next week].”
Larentowicz, who looks certain to start on Wednesday with Ross LaBauex in the center of the Rapids midfield, hasn’t seen the down time most of his other colleagues have enjoyed recently when it’s been an international FIFA date. Instead of putting his feet up at home, he’s been training with the US national team under Jurgen Klinsmann.
In the last round of US matches against Honduras and Ecuador, Larentowicz saw no playing time. But he’ s not discouraged. It’s all part of the process, he says, and he’s delighted just to be involved in the national team set-up.
“The way I look at it is that I am getting called in with players who have been in the system for a while,” he said. “I am behind certain players on the totem pole but they are happy with how I am playing. It’s all gone well. They have plans for me, it’s just that it’s not something that is going to be immediate.”
That may well include some extra work in the offseason once the MLS season is over, Larentowicz said. Klinsmann spoke recently about the need for MLS players involved in the international set-up to have less time off so as to be on a par with their international counterparts. The indications are that Larentowicz could even have some kind of loan spell abroad during the offseason.
“Jurgen has clearly spoken about the league and the MLS season,” Larentowicz said. “There are probably going to be some plans on what he might want me to be doing in the offseason.”
For now, Larentowicz can only concentrate on the matter in hand. That is, the huge challenge of playing a top Mexican side in their backyard after a long trip followed by more long distance travel and a tough game against a Vancouver side that have been dominant in their new stadium.
“It’s an exciting time," he said. "This is what you play for.”