COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It’s officially time to hit the panic button.
The Colorado Rapids will be without starting center back Diego Calderón for four to five months following knee surgery on Thursday, the club announced. Coupled with the loss of his center back partner, Drew Moor, to a two-game suspension for throwing his arm at Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas on Saturday, the team is in dire straits – the absences mean already hard-hit Rapids will likely be without seven starters heading into Saturday’s game against Portland (6 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
“It’s difficult, but my approach with it is we have to make things happen,” head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “That’s why we have the rest of the [roster].”
Somebody inside Dick’s Sporting Goods Park forgot his or her lucky rabbit’s foot, and the charm probably would have suffered a broken toe anyway. The injuries – four games into the season – now include the Rapids’ leading scorer (Jaime Castrillón) and assist man (Martín Rivero) from a year ago, their starting goalkeeper (Matt Pickens), their captain (Pablo Mastroeni), their premier offseason acquisition (Edson Buddle) and, now, Moor and Calderón.
Aside from that, however, the Rapids are healthy.
“I spend more time thinking about how can we solve this?” Pareja said. “[But] it is very difficult since it’s all happening at the same time.”
The good news is Buddle could be back in a reserve role as soon as the weekend, and Rivero (broken foot), Mastroeni (quad strain) and Moor (two-game suspension) will be back within the next few weeks.
But until then, Pareja will have a challenge ahead of him just to find enough healthy bodies to scrape together a starting lineup for Saturday’s key test against Portland. Right back Marvell Wynne will likely switch back to the middle, where he’s played for most of his time with the Rapids, while youngsters Chris Klute and Shane O’Neill are the favorites to come in and help fill the team’s holes on defense. Rookies Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers will almost certainly start up top and in the midfield, respectively.
“We’ll see what the response is of the guys that are here still,” Pareja said of his the possibility of acquiring another defender to help out in Calderón’s absence. “I think they will have an opportunity to shine.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.