COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The beginning of last season was marred by a near-unfathomable string of injuries to the Colorado Rapids, and they can only hope the same injury bug isn’t buzzing around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park once again.
The Rapids are looking at the possibility of being without two key starters for Saturday’s season opener against the New York Red Bulls (4 pm ET, Univision Deportes) as midfielder Dillon Powers and first-choice goalkeeper Clint Irwin face races against time to be ready for the weekend.
“Every decision is always coach, but there’s always communication between [players and coaches],” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said on Wednesday. “[Dillon’s] eager to go out there, and I think it’s a great step in the direction of being a leader on this team for years to come.”
Powers, the reining MLS Rookie of the Year, participated fully in Wednesday’s training session, the team’s final practice before flying to New York on Thursday. He made the trip but admitted Wednesday that he’s not at full fitness as he continues to battle knee tendonitis.
“I don’t,” Powers told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday when asked if he felt ready to play a full 90 minutes. “It’s something Pablo knows about and is very clear about. It’s going to probably take a couple weeks to get there. I could do it, but it wouldn’t be smart as far as my recovery.”
The Rapids, however, do have plenty of options at the his attacking midfield spot, including wily veteran Vicente Sánchez.
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Powers has been troubled by various nagging injuries through preseason, preventing him from attaining full fitness. However, his concussion issues from the end of last season are no longer an issue.
Meanwhile, Irwin has been fighting a leg muscle problem and trained off to the side on Wednesday. If Irwin can’t play, John Berner, a 2014 second-round SuperDraft pick, would be in line to make his first MLS start in his first MLS game.
“We’re still waiting on Clint, that might be a game-time decision,” Mastroeni said. “Berner’s been with us for these last 10 days, he’s performed exceptionally well, and every guy that we have in this group is here because they’re capable of playing at this level.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.