COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When Omar Cummings came on in the 67th minute of the Colorado Rapids’ 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders last Saturday, it provided a glimmer of hope for the team’s injury-bitten strike force.
Cummings scored his first goal in nearly three months Saturday, volleying in Luis Zapata’s cross in the 79th minute.
Seven minutes later, Cummings seemed to have added a second on a nifty back heel. But the goal to be ruled offside.
WATCH: Cummings finishes coolly vs. Sounders
It was disappointing, but seen through the long-term perspective, Cummings' overall performance against Seattle bodes well for the Rapids, who host FC Dallas on Saturday (9 pm ET, streamed on MLS LIVE).
“Definitely as the games go on I feel better,” Cummings told MLSsoccer.com. “[I’m] getting my fitness, getting back into regular practices. You know, not feeling like I shouldn’t be doing this or doing that. So it’s definitely getting better in that sense.”
Cummings is only just returning from a sprained ankle that sidelined the 29-year-old for six weeks in May and June, while a slew of injuries to usual strike partner Conor Casey kept the pair from playing together for almost a year. Casey and Cummings finally reunited on June 30 in a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers, but it may yet take some time for them to rediscover the form that saw them combine for 27 goals in 2010.
“You have to be patient with them,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “And Omar and Conor are spending time in training, they’re spending time in the games. And sometimes, the perception is it’s just a matter of playing together and that’s it. They haven’t played together for many, many months. It’s our job to get that gelling up again and get that chemistry back, and I know it’s going to come.
"But it takes a little time and we have to be patient. I know that they’re going to get there. I know that. And the sooner the better for the team.”
However, this time around, Cummings will be returning to his preferred spot on the field. At the start of the season, with Casey still out, Cummings was asked to assume the point man role atop the Rapids’ 4-3-3 formation. Since switching to a 4-4-2 – the same system in which Casey and Cummings played during their MLS Cup 2010 run – Cummings feels more comfortable as a wing striker, and he hopes it can lead to a full resurgence in form for him and the Rapids’ attack.
“That is easier for sure because it’s a lot more load I’d say,” Cummings said. “Conor did it in the first half I think and it leads to success for the rest of the team. When you have two defenders, you have to be essentially be that point man, holding off players, and with some defenders in the league, 6-foot-4, very heavy guys, it’s a little more difficult, especially on turf.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.