COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- In the 85th minute of last Saturday match against Seattle, Colorado Rapids second half substitute Kamani Hill clanked a shot off the left post that nearly tied the match. By his own admission, it was a botched chance, however former the Wolfsburg (Germany) player had already made his mark in his first significant playing time of the season, bringing an element of playmaking and creativity that Colorado lacked in the opening 45.
So why hasn’t Hill, who has played all of 68 minutes in 2013 despite a slew of injuries to his team, not received an extended look?
“Coach’s decision,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said simply following the match. “But with [Hill] I have to say he’s always in the equation and we know what he brought us in the games when he came in. Sometimes, you have to put all those together to set the team and some players are not in the first 11, and that’s the way it is.”
Kamani Hill hits post vs Seattle
Hill hasn’t started any of the first eight matches this season and only started three of the 19 games he appeared in during his first year in Colorado. So needless to say, there’s been some frustration on the end of the 27-year-old, who scored five MLS goals in 2012.
“I want to play every game,” Hill told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “What I focus on is getting myself ready for any opportunities that I get. I can’t really dwell on opportunities that don’t come because that doesn’t really change anything for me.”
As for Hill himself, it’s been a long journey to Colorado in pursuit of regular playing time. After bouncing around various stops in Europe for six years, Hill arrived in Colorado last March and made a quick first impression, scoring three goals off the bench in his first five MLS games.
However, Hill never could quite lock down a spot in Pareja’s starting eleven in 2012.
Now, after an impressive game where he looked to be the most dangerous player on Colorado’s side of the field for 45 minutes, Hill could be in for more minutes.
“What [Oscar] has told me is he wants guys that continue to push and keep working whether they’re playing or not,” Hill said. “It’s his decision who plays. I’m just waiting to get in there. Just waiting.”
As for Pareja, he knows what Hill brought him on Saturday, and it could lead to more looks for the UCLA product in the future.
“Kamani brought us a spark in that half. I was very, very happy with him,” Pareja said of Hill’s performance on Saturday. “He had a great week of training and he showed that. He brought us a spark and he pushed the team and gave us some options. I thought he did a great job.”
Hill, who has worked in a second forward role this spring, could see more playing Sunday against Houston with forwards Edson Buddle and Deshorn Brown battling injuries. Hill's last MLS start and last goal was against Houston on October 27, 2012, when he scored the game-winner in the 9th minute of the Rapids' 2-0 win at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.