Rapids coach Oscar Pareja narrows down list to fill lone forward spot versus LA to seven players

Coach deciding between Buddle, Harris, Castrillon, Rivero, LaBrocca, Cascio and Mwanga

Oscar Pareja points

Photo Credit: 
Bart Young / Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids coach Oscar Pareja has started the same XI in each of the past two games. He won't be able to do that Saturday when the Rapids visit the LA Galaxy (8:30 p.m. MT, Altitude TV).

Forward Gabriel Torres, who started as the lone forward against Vancouver and Sporting KC, has joined the Panama National Team for two World Cup Qualifying matches and won't be available to play against the Galaxy.

Pareja has yet to decide on who will step into the role, but is clearly not lacking options.

"We still have another day (of training)," Pareja told ColoradoRapids.com following Thursday's practice. "I've been happy with Edson's (Buddle) production. I'm also very happy with what Atiba (Harris) has shown these past two weeks of training. Martin (Rivero) is coming along well, Nick (LaBrocca) is playing well. Tony (Cascio) has had a very good week of practice. Jaime (Castrillon) can give us a different option, as can Danny (Mwanga). So we have options in order to make the correct decision."

In addition to the players Pareja mentioned, it's likely that rookie Deshorn Brown and veteran Vicente Sanchez occupy the wide positions up front against LA. However with so many players available - and coming off their first loss in 10 games - Pareja could decide to mix things up.

LA will also have decisions to make since they will be missing four key players to international duty: forward Landon Donovan and center back Omar Gonzalez are with the U.S. Men's National Team, forward Robbie Keane has joined Ireland's National Team, and recent first-choice goalkeeper Jaime Penedo is with Panama's National Team.

"We evaluate teams as they come, we don't put too much emphasis on players that are not available - be it for our opponent or our own team," Pareja said. "It's to say, every time we face LA we look at which players they have available."

The team's have split the first two meeting this year, with LA winning 1-0 at home in March and the Rapids defeating the Galaxy 2-0 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in July. 

After going nine games without a defeat, the Rapids dropped their first match since June in a 2-1 loss at Sporting KC. LA enters Saturday's match on a three-game winning streak.

"This team reacts very well," Pareja said of the team's mentality following the loss. "This team has grown accustomed to having character and showing strenghth in tough times. I don't have any doubt that we have the team and strength to play an important game in Los Angeles and to forget what happened to us in Kansas City. We'll use (the loss) as a way to improve and to go to LA to get the points."