CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Out since January 29 with a broken foot, midfielder Martín Rivero practiced fully for the first time on Wednesday, and he appears close to returning – and providing a major boost to the Rapids lineup.
“Martin has just started doing field training today,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters. “That’s a big step forward. How long [until he's available for match action]? I’d say maybe two weeks. But we’ll see how he goes in the next two days for him.”
The 23-year-old Argentine was a sensation at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2012, his first season in MLS after arriving on loan from Argentina’s Rosario Central in February 2012. The diminutive attacking midfielder led Colorado with eight assists while starting 30 games a year ago, providing slick passing and set-piece delivery as he become a fixture in Pareja’s starting lineup.
This year, however, got off to an unfortunate start for the Rapids’ primary creative midfielder. In the first half of the their preseason opener against Portland in January, Rivero turned on a pass and awkwardly fell to the grass, the victim of a fractured right foot.
It was the first serious injury of Rivero’s young career, and developing trust in his foot has been an issue for him in the wake of the injury.
Quick Clip: Rivero and Castrillon juggling
“When I first started to train in the field, when I was just starting to touch the ball, I had a little fear,” Rivero said on Wednesday, while adding that he doesn’t feel the injury anymore. “But that’s gone now.”
Rivero started to jog earlier this month, but took part in almost all of Wednesday’s drills, including high-intensity scrimmages. While he's still likely a few weeks away from returning, the Rapids are hoping to get him involved in Saturday’s reserve match against Seattle.
“Today was the first time I got to train with the group fully, and I’m glad I felt good,” said Rivero, who is working on conditioning before returning to the field. “It doesn’t hurt, and I’m trying not to think about the injury now that I’m practicing.”
He, too, is hoping is to be ready to play in two weeks.
"First I want to try to get to 100 percent," Rivero told ColoradoRapids.com. "That will happen over the course of the coming days, pending how I'm responding. Right now I'm feeling better every day and I think that in two weeks I can be at 100 percent to be able to play."
Rivero said he has talked to the coaching staff about potentially playing "15-20 minutes' in the Reserve match against Harrisburg on Saturday following the first-team match versus Seattle.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.