Towards the middle of Thursday's 11-v-11 drill inside Dick's Sporting Goods Park, holding midfielder Hendry Thomas lunged towards Nick LaBrocca and came away with the ball, cleanly. LaBrocca's only reaction was to get up quickly and step right into Thomas' path to try to win the ball back. Thomas touched the ball to a teammate and the play moved on.
The Honduran, who joined the Rapids last August, has not always received the same reaction from referees nor from the MLS Disciplinary Committee this season.
In June, the MLS Disciplinary Committee retroactively suspended Thomas for the match at Chicago after determining that he committed "a reckless challenge that endangered the safety of his opponent" in the match against San Jose. Two weeks ago, after Thomas received a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulations, the Disciplinary Committee tacked on an additional match for what they saw as another reckless challenge that Thomas committed against LA on July 27.
"It really is difficult having to sit out, especially being at the stadium supporting the group," Thomas told ColoradoRapids.com Thursday. "It's hard, but the important thing is that my teammates did a good job. Now I just have to keep contributing and be in optimal conditions to get back in a game, so if the coach calls on me then I'll be ready."
Having served the recent two-game suspension, Thomas is eligible to return to the field Saturday when the Rapids host the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. MT). Just don't expect to see a different Thomas than the one who's game has led him to play in the World Cup and English Premier League.
"It doesn't affect me," Thomas said of returning to the field after another suspension. "One, because it's my style of play. And, even though they think the way they do, I can't change the way I play. The important thing is that I never go in with any intention of wanting to hurt a colleague. I try to play hard and try to win back the ball, which is my job."
Nicknamed "El Patron" by his teammates, Thomas' presence in front of the defense has been instrumental of limiting opponents chances while also contributing to gain possession.
"I am how I am, and it's very difficult for me to change how I play soccer," Thomas added. "I'm a player that likes to give my all, like my teammates. I try to fight to win back every ball. That's my way of playing and I intend to keep playing like that."