COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It hasn’t come without teachable moments, but Rapids striker Omar Cummings is settling into his role as the point man in the Rapids’ new 4-3-3 configuration.
Cummings has netted goals in two of the Rapids’ last three games, and although he was held scoreless last Saturday in the 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake, the Jamaican created the best opportunity of the match with a pinpoint cross in the second half that was pushed just wide by Drew Moor.
“I’m pleased with Omar and the effort that he’s made in a position that is not natural to him,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Omar is developing himself as a player [in a] way people don’t see it. He’s experienced in different challenges within the field, and still he’s doing his job and he’s already scored two goals.”
Cummings had spent the previous three seasons operating as a striker atop a 4-4-2 alongside Conor Casey. But with Casey sidelined to start the year as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles, Cummings has assumed the position of being the point striker in the 4-3-3, and there are plenty of differences between the two roles.
“Defensively it’s a little bit different,” the 29-year-old Jamaican international told MLSsoccer.com. “Where to balance, how to show [to] the ball and a lot of that has to do with information from the back. Going forward it’s about holding balls up and getting balls and not trying to go at it on your own.”
Cummings has spent more than a month as the Rapids point man, but it likely won’t be for much longer. With Casey expected to return to action April 21 against the Galaxy, Cummings will likely move back out wide – and that’s just fine by him.
“[It’s] always good to have Conor back,” said Cummings, who is still not 100 percent healthy as he battles a nagging right ankle injury. “He’s a great striker, good player, good friend. So to see him come back would be good.”
In the meantime, Cummings’ willingness to learn a new position as an established veteran has made a lasting impression on Pareja.
“It’s a new coach, it’s a new transition, it’s new routines,” the Rapids boss said. “Everything is new for all of us, [and] Omar is growing in many aspects. I’m pleased with his effort and I’m pleased with him.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.