COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids strike force could soon be debuting a new look.
With newly signed striker Gabriel Torres back from international duty and veteran Edson Buddle enjoying a productive run of form of late, the two could feature up top together for the first time in Friday night’s crucial showdown against the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field (10 pm ET, NBCSN), Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said this week.
“I think they complement each other,” Pareja said of Torres and Buddle on Wednesday. “Edson has the strength, and we need to hold the ball and spread it after, and Gaby has the mobility, the diagonal movement. So they complement each other.”
Torres signed as the club’s first Designated Player in franchise history last month after a stellar CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign for Panama, while Buddle has three goals in his last four games. The Rapids are 7-1-4 over their last 12 matches with a 1.67 goals-per-game average over that spell, a significant increase from their 1.28 season average.
Pareja hasn’t determined exactly how he might want to align the duo. One option, Pareja said, is to play them up top together, but perhaps another option could be to play Buddle up top by himself and shift Torres out wide.
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One hold up to that plan, however, is the turf at JELD-WEN Field. Considering Buddle’s recent history of knee problems that have kept him out for large parts of the last two seasons, Pareja said he’ll keep Portland’s surface closely in mind in his lineup decision for Friday.
“It comes into the equation,” Pareja said of playing Buddle there. “Turf is turf, and as good as he could be, it’s not natural and it pounds the guys a lot.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.