Friday's preseason finales in Santa Barbara, Calif. should clarify two key decisions for Colorado Rapids coach Oscar Pareja: which players are options to play against FC Dallas in the season opener; and which trialist (s) - if any - could make the final roster.
The Rapids have 32 players in camp in California to scrimmage UC Santa Barbara Friday afternoon before a different group faces the LA Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. PT in the final preseason match. The Rapids open the season next Saturday, March 2, at FC Dallas.
"We're continuing to build the team and want to give minutes to the guys that will play in the first match," Pareja told ColoradoRapids.com from California. "At the same time, we're evaluating two or three possibilities that are important in the competition for positions, and we want to see them on Friday, too."
Pareja has ruled expected starters Edson Buddle and Matt Pickens from playing on Friday as they near full recovery from injuries. The second-year coach said he wants to use Friday's matches for players to win some of the closer position battles.
"We have a clearer picture," Pareja said of his ideal lineup. "But we want to see other possibilities on Friday."
Among the remaining questions are who will get the first shot at left back, in which Anthony Wallace, Chris Klute, and Kory Kindle have all shared minutes. The competition on the right side of the defense appears to be between Brian Mullan and Marvell Wynne. The attacking players are also looking to secure their place, with a larger group of players all vying for one of the 3-4 starting XI spots up top.
Last and not least, eight non-roster invitees could be fighting for two open roster spots, or, possibly, to take someone elses.
"(Friday) is really the time to make some final decisions with some players," Pareja said. "It has been good to have these players for this week of camp, and what we need now is for them to show us on Friday that they should have a spot on our team."
The team will be providing live updates of Friday's matches on twitter at @ColoradoRapids,