Irwin on the mend and back in the mix

Rapids #1 took part in Wednesday practice but his progress is being monitored

Clint Irwin in training

Photo Credit: 
ColoradoRapids.com

It will be three weeks this Saturday that Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin suffered a right quad strain in the preseason game against the New England Revolution in Tucson, but his return to first-team duties will not be rushed.

One of the many surprises to emerge from the Rapids in 2013, Irwin was forced to sit out the team's opening game of the season - a 1-1 tie at New York Red Bulls - in which rookie keeper John Berner stepped in and fronted up.

Irwin was heavily involved in practice on Wednesday, but his recovery is being monitored closely on a daily basis, suggesting that there is no guarantee he will return for the home opener against the Portland Timbers this Saturday, kick-off 4 p.m MT (TICKETS).

"I think he feels a lot better and is able to do some short-range passing," outlined Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni. "Obviously that's a position that I leave up to the goalie coach (Chris Sharpe) to give me the nuts and bolts as far as the mindset and his (Irwin's) ability to perform all the tasks that are asked of him."

Irwin completed various training exercises earlier today, including shot-stopping, before stepping out to the side to work on kicking with his troublesome right leg. This was a step up from what he achieved on Tuesday.

Mastroeni will listen closely to Sharpe in the coming days, although comfortable in the knowledge that he has two other able and willing keepers - Berner and Joe Nasco (pictured right).

Midfielder Dillon Powers (pictured above) continues to show no after-effects from the head injury sustained at the Red Bulls. He did wear a protective helmet for the first part of practice, though purely as a precautionary measure, as he has stitches in the head wound which forced his early exit last weekend.

Injured defenders Chris Klute (hamstring) and Brian Mullan (knee) were both observers this morning. Klute is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks after suffering his injury at Red Bull Arena.