Vicente Sanchez only arrived in Colorado in the late summer, but his ability and experience quickly made him a central part of the Rapids stretch run to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Uruguayan's leadership and desire to contribute was never more evident than Wednesday night, when he played the second half against Seattle with a fractured bone in his right shoulder.
"As a player one always wants to play, always wants to be there," Sanchez told ColoradoRapids.com Thursday after returning to Colorado. "I wanted to be with the team for these important games. To put it simply, I have a bone fracture. When you have any fracture it's complicated. Regardless of any medicine you take, it's still fractured. It's miniscule, very small, but the surrounding tendons caused pain. I attempted to play. We did everything possible to be able to play, but it's challenging with the arm - you lose your equilibrium. At the last minute we decided to at least be on the bench to support the group from outside and if I could give some minutes then to do it."
Full Match Highlights
Sanchez injured his shoulder early in the 3-2 win over Vancouver on Oct. 19. He continued playing - visibly protecting his arm - until the pain was too much to bear and he was replaced with ten minutes to go. He traveled with the Rapids for the return game in Vancouver on Oct. 27 but was ultimately ruled out of the regular season finale against the Whitecaps.
He attempted to practice Tuesday in Seattle and the decision to be on the gameday squad was made after the team arrived at CenturyLink Field.
With the Rapids down a goal, Sanchez entered the match in the 61st minute and helped Colorado push the offense. Sanchez nearly set up the tying goal in the 89th minute but Hendry Thomas' glancing header off the lefty's corner went inches high.
"The game was 1-0 until the 90th minute, and we could have tied it," Sanchez said. "We had a few plays and opportunities, so I think we did well, and on a field that is impossible to play on."
Sanchez was complimentary of his teammates as he watched from the bench, but not so much with referee Silviu Petrescu.
"I thought the team did well. We were well positioned," Sanchez said. "We conceded a goal in part because of the referee. It's difficult to talk about referees, but this ref, with one foul, two fouls, three fouls against was pinning us back towards our goal. The field was being tilted for them with little decisions, small fouls, minor yellow cards against us and not them."
The final stats show 19 fouls on the Rapids and 17 called on Seattle. However the Rapids were shown three cautions in the first 53 minutes while the Sounders avoided numerous opportunities to be carded until the 78th minute.
While in pain and disappointed, even the experienced Sanchez admits the match can be a learning experience for him and the Rapids.
"It's a game, and it was our turn to lose," he said. "We're sad but this should help us so that next year we can avoid the knockout match."
As for his shoulder, he'll have plenty of time to let it heal.
"I'm in a lot of pain," he said. "It's swollen, inflamed. Now I can relax and take the medicine to try to calm the pain."