COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Mother Nature, lady luck and big brother teamed up to make Tuesday one big headache for the Colorado Rapids.
From tornadoes to suspensions to lengthy flight delays, the day didn’t exactly go to plan as the Rapids prepared to head to Chicago for a Wednesday night battle with the Fire at Toyota Park (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
While waiting to depart for Chicago at Denver International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, the Rapids were forced to get off their plane and seek shelter in the airport’s basement as a tornado touched down on airport grounds, just a few hundred yards away from the soccer team and 10,000 other stranded passengers The team and passengers were unharmed.
Then, after having their initial flight to Chicago cancelled, the Rapids were forced to divvy up into two separate flights on Tuesday afternoon, with one of the two flights delayed for several hours due to mechanical problems and finally arriving in the Windy City late on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, the club will play without Hendry Thomas and Atiba Harris, both suspended following a feisty 2-1 loss to San Jose on Saturday. Harris was automatically suspended following a straight red card for a hard challenge on Alan Gordon early in the first half, while Thomas was handed a one-game suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Tuesday.
Head coach Oscar Pareja is also suspended for the game after he was disciplined by the league for entering the field of play during a heated exchange against the Quakes. Assistant Dave Dir is expected to serve as head coach with Pareja suspended and assistant Wilmer Cabrera currently on a FIFA trip in Turkey.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.