COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Hendry Thomas has only been a Colorado Rapid for less than two weeks, but the Rapids’ newest addition has already developed a strong itch to play for his new team.
The former Wigan FC man watched from the bench on Saturday night as the Rapids lost 4-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes, and now Thomas (above) thinks he’s ready for a shot in Oscar Pareja’s starting lineup for Colorado’s key road test against the Portland Timbers on Friday night (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Every player wants to play, and I’m preparing to do so,” Thomas told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “As each day passes, I feel more comfortable and better.”
The Honduras international, who traveled with the Rapids to Portland on Thursday, has been working on his conditioning since officially putting pen to paper on a contract with the Rapids early last week. After struggling to regain fitness due to playing sparsely a season ago for Wigan, Thomas has quickly hit his stride and, though unlikely, Thomas could be in contention to start against the Timbers on Friday.
“We’ll see,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said of Thomas’ chances of starting on Friday. “We’re talking every day about the situation. It’s tough right now to think he’s ready for 90 minutes, but his physical progression had been good.”
While Thomas doesn’t appear likely to start against the Timbers on Friday night, the 2010 World Cup participant has quickly overcome the biggest challenge with his new team: suburban Denver’s mile high altitude.
“It was very hard for me,” Thomas said of adapting to the altitude. “After the first 15 to 20 minutes of practice, I felt tired. But now I feel fine and I can finish training without any problems.”
A three-year EPL veteran who chose the Rapids over several notable European offers, Thomas arrived as Colorado’s biggest acquisition so far this season, and while the former Olimpia (Honduras) man had to adapt to his new surroundings, he feels ready to prove his worth to his new team, and he just might get his first chance Friday night.
“I feel that I’m better and that I can play 90 minutes,” Thomas said. “I’m going to keep working and waiting what Oscar [Pareja] has to say about me playing.”
English league vet Peterlin on trial
The Rapids have already tapped into the English pipeline to attract former Wigan midfielder Hendry Thomas to Commerce City, and there could be another former England-based player soon making the move to Colorado.
Former Everton, Plymouth Argyle (then-League One) and Walsall (League One) midfielder Anton Peterlin joined the Rapids on trial last week, and the San Francisco native hopes to impress his way onto his first MLS club.
“It’s a different style of football than England,” Peterlin said of opting to trial with the Rapids. “England is a very direct style of football, and I feel like MLS is a little bit more technical. We’ll see if I can play in that type of system because I’ve done England for a while. It’s done me well, but it’s not my strongest [style], I’d say.”
Peterlin spent last year at Walsall, totaling 31 appearances at the League One club, just two years after playing for Everton’s reserve squad. The Rapids have brought in several trialists this season, and Peterlin, who trialed his way into all three of his English teams, has long attracted the interest of Rapids technical director Paul Bravo.
“I think we’ve been consistent in this message all year. We’re going to continue to add pieces to the roster that we think might be able to help,” Bravo told MLSsoccer.com. “Whether that’s a young trialist or a player who has experience abroad. Does this make us a better team by bringing these guys in. I’ve seen [Peterlin] in his college days, he was a very good player at Cal Poly.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.