Last week Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja was finally able to make personnel moves based on options, rather than lack thereof.
Against San Jose, Pareja rested veteran Brian Mullan and rookie Dillon Powers - the only two players that had started each of the first 11 matches. It was a luxury afforded with the return to health of Marvell Wynne and Pablo Mastroeni, who started at right back and center midfield, respectively.
"It worked well," Pareja said. "We had been discussing it because Brian had played 11 games without rest. I thought it was a good game for Marvell to play with the plan that we had and to take advantage of it to give Brian a break. (Mullan) is healthy and I think he has more energy now. And the same with (Dillon) Powers, we had time to give him a break."
Although Mullan traveled to San Jose and was available, he did not see action in either the first-team or Reserve League game the following day. The team then had Monday and Tuesday off before resuming training on Wednesday morning.
"It does feel like a rest," Mullan told ColoradoRapids.com. "It actually did a lot for me and it all came in good timing. It was always a plan to rest one game and come back in."
The timing, at least in Mullan's case, appeared to be spot on. In the second half against the Earthquakes, center back Shane O'Neill was ejected after committing a foul as the last man against SJ's Chris Wondlowski right outside box. O'Neill will serve the one-game suspension Saturday against Chivas USA, but Pareja now has a rested Mullan ready to return and the option of sliding Wynne to the middle of the defense.
Pareja has stressed over and over how he wants competition for positions, but having multiple options will also allow the team to keep playing fresh legs.
"That rotation - when we can - I think is healthy for the team," Pareja said.