Commerce City, Colo. - Assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera will lead a group of veteran players and a mix with different levels of experience to Houston Tuesday for the first of 10 Reserve League games scheduled this season.
"The way we as a coaching staff approach (reserve games), and how we learned it, is that these games are tryouts and an opportunity to maintain the entire team competing and at a good soccer level," Cabrera told ColoradoRapids.com Monday before departing. "These reserve games are as important as regular season games, because they allow us to keep the entire roster competing, in rhythm, and with the same philosophy and style of play."
Sixteen players made the trip to Houston, including the three substitutes who entered Saturday's win over Columbus, Wells Thompson, Andre Akpan, and goal-scorer Quincy Amarikwa. Joining them are veteran defenders Tyrone Marshall and Scott Palguta, as well as first, second, and third year players.
"The mentality is to play well and win, and for the players to push themselves individually and collectively to be ready when Oscar (Pareja) needs them," Cabrera said. "Some of these players will play often, and they need to remain ready, to understand the tactical side, the philosophy and style, and obviously stay sharp. The best way to do that is to play in these games."
One thing the players can expect is to play in the same 4-3-3 formation that Pareja wants to use in first team games. The next regular season is also on the road, next Sunday against the Philadelphia Union (2 pm MT, NBC Sports).
"It's the exact same style," said Cabrera, who is also the first-team assistant coach. "All the players that did not play (Saturday) are going, and Oscar gave me the responsibility to prepare them as if they are preparing to go to Philadelphia. If Oscar needs one of these players for next weekend in Philadelphia, he'll be in rhythm and know what Oscar is looking for."
In addition to the roster players, the team is also bringing Academy standout Dillon Serna and Brazilian trialist, Edu, whose full name is Luis Eduardo Schmidt.
"It's one thing to see these players in practice, but in games is where some players are better exposed," said Cabrera. "In this case, it's important to see Edu in competition."
While for some players these games will offer a chance to stay sharp, for others it may be a chance to move higher on the depth chart.
"These games offer the opportunity for players that want to be on the first team to be seen and analyzed," added Cabrera. "We can see how they interact, their level of play individually, and how they adapt to the rest of the players. So these games are very important for us."
Traveling roster: Stew Ceus, Ian Joyce, Scott Palguta, Tyrone Marshall, Eddie Ababio, Dillon Serna, Ross LaBauex, Joseph Nane, Wells Thompson, Steven Emory, Davy Armstrong, Kohei Yamada, Josh Janniere, Andre Akpan, Quincy Amarikwa, Edu.