Return to health of more players leads to most participants at training since start of the season
It was a day like unlike many this year for the Colorado Rapids coaching staff, who conducted a training with a nearly full squad for the first time in...a long time.
Every player on the roster except Diego Calderon worked outside with the team on Wednesday. Calderon, who is off crutches following knee surgery, and continued his rehab indoors.
"It was great to see Matt Pickens training almost fully, and (Hendry) Thomas being part of the small-side game already, and Jaime Castrillon and Jamie Smith," Pareja told reporters after training. "That's great."
Pickens, recovering from a broken arm suffered in March, was cleared to start doing light catching drills.
"We're on schedule with Matt," Pareja said. "He's doing his regular fitness training and he's doing some goalkeeping training as well, with some limitations."
Thomas (pictured above), who left the match on April 28 against Houston with a pulled hamstring, worked with fitness coach Paul Caffrey on the side before being placed in an 8-v-8 drill late in training.
"Today was (Thomas') his first training in small-sided games," Pareja said of the Honduran. "We had some limitations on him today, we didn't want him to push 100 per cent. We wanted him to get some touches with the ball and get some combinations with players."
Pareja stressed patience for Thomas, a luxury afforded with the recent good play and availability of midfielders Nathan Sturgis, Dillon Powers, Pablo Mastroeni, and Nick LaBrocca.
"(Thomas) wants to play now, which is great, but we want to make sure that he's strong enough and that the muscles are healed," Pareja said. "We're not going to risk it, but he seems like he's progressing more than we thought."
Smith continues improving from a groin injury that has also sidelined him since April 28. The Scotsman returned to the field last week and joined in the small-sided games today.
Pareja also said that Castrillon, who had offseason knee surgery, is back to full training and working on match fitness.
"It may take him one week, two weeks," Pareja said. "But Jaime now is ready to go."
In addition to the previously injured, newly acquired defender German Mera was also in attendance just hours after arriving from Colombia.