López working his way into Rapids fold

World Cup vet hopes Colorado debut comes this weekend

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — There aren’t many MLS players who have scored a goal in a World Cup quarterfinal against Holland. He may have ended up on the losing side that day, but Claudio López will always have that.

The Argentine veteran now has more modest ambitions as he contemplates his new life in Colorado. Like getting into the 18 to catch the bus to the airport Thursday as the Rapids fly out to New England. Saturday’s game could be López’s first MLS league action for Colorado. He did appear for the last ten minutes of the recent U.S. Open Cup win over his old team, the Kansas City Wizards.

López spent much of the offseason in his native Argentina after he was deemed surplus to requirements by the new regime in Kansas City and concedes that he has had to work hard to get back to decent fitness levels.

“Training is going better,” he said this week. “I need to do a little more work having got here late; it’s going good.”

Head coach Gary Smith is eager to get López some playing time but felt that last Sunday’s game against Toronto would have been too early.

“He had a good session today and he will have had a good week this week and that will certainly lend itself to him being involved,” Smith said.

Smith and the coaching staff were looking for an impact player who can back up Omar Cummings and Conor Casey and who can offer options. They hope they have found just that in the veteran, who signed a one-year contract with the Rapids.

“I can bring all my work, all my experience, and help the guys,” López said. “I love to play good soccer and feel good with the team. I think this is a good team, a good club. Everybody is working together.”

López, who will turn 36 in July, said he is eager to embrace his new experience after the disappointment of not agreeing terms with Kansas City.

“I have been waiting for another chance to play,” he said. “I hope things will go well this year and we will see after that. It’s a beautiful place, beautiful fields, good guys in the locker room. Everything is going good for now, and I hope things will go well going forward.”