Ventura, Calif. - It was only the first preseason scrimmage - a scoreless draw with the Ventura County Fusion - but for coach Oscar Pareja, Sunday's result was not paramount.
“The goals [of the game] were obviously to evaluate players and… just continue our preparation for the season,” said Pareja. “I thought we accomplished that. We have been working hard, and we looked like we had heavy legs, which is normal and expected for the boys.”
Pareja was happy with the effort the team put forth, and he knew that after nearly two weeks of double sessions on turf in Colorado, fatigue would be a factor.
It was also good timing for a change in venue, as the team started a week long stint in California, leaving behind the 15 inches of snow in Colorado that would have limited training and likely kept the team working out indoors on more turf.
“We’re happy to be on grass, finally,” said Pareja, after spending nearly two weeks on the turf fields at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. “[The goal] this week is obviously just to get some games and keep preparing. The guys are in a preseason mentality and working hard.”
Sunday’s first preseason scrimmage was against Premier Development side Ventura County Fusion, who recently topped Chivas USA by a 1-0 score and will host several MLS clubs in the next few weeks. Of the 11 players to start the game for Colorado, nine were on the 2011 roster, with Colombian trailist Luis Zapata at left back and rookie Tony Cascio at left forward the only new additions.
Colorado lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, and while the Rapids generated some good opportunities moving forward, the team gave away possession, several times in dangerous areas.
The second half saw many changes, and while the Rapids again had several chances, the best opportunity of the match for either team was a Fusion breakaway that forced Rapids goalkeeper Ian Joyce into a great save.
“They came out and played a game and were sharp in some moments,” Pareja said. “There were some other moments where we looked erratic with the ball, which, as I said, is expected. I think they did a good job.”
One setback for Colorado happened when defender Drew Moor tweaked his hamstring and had to come out of the game; the injury is not serious and he’ll be evaluated further on Monday.
The team was joined by a pair of young local players with experience on the U.S. Youth National Teams: Kevin Huezo, who was recently with Pachuca in Mexico, and Alejandro Guido, who had been with Assistant Coaches Wilmer Cabrera and Paul Caffrey at the U-17 National Team. Also joining the club was Colombian forward Jefferson Angulo, who met up with the team after flying into Los Angeles. All three saw action in the scrimmage.
With another preseason scrimmage on Tuesday against Chivas USA, the Rapids will hold only one practice on Monday to prepare. After a brief regeneration session in the morning, the group will return to Oxnard College in the afternoon. Tuesday’s game will be at 12:00 noon PT at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Fans can follow along on twitter by following www.twitter.com/ColoradoRapids.