Las Vegas Cashman Field

It is ironic that Colorado Rapids continue the hard grind of preseason by traveling to the party capital of the world this week.

The team flew into Las Vegas on Thursday morning for a five-day camp in Nevada that will include their first two preparation matches. From there they fly straight to Tucson for another two weeks of training sessions and friendlies. By the time they return, the season-opener at Philadelphia will be less than a week away.

Matches in Las Vegas

There is a starter and a main course. On Friday lunchtime, kick-off noon PT, Rapids take on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) at Johann Field. While on Sunday evening, kick-off 7 p.m. PT, the standard of opposition improves as Pablo Mastroeni’s men play San Jose Earthquakes at Cashman Field (pictured above) in the inaugural Las Vegas Pro Soccer Challenge Cup (TICKETS). The venue is notable as it is the home of Las Vegas 51s Triple-A minor league baseball team, an affiliate of the New York Mets.

This encounter represents a quick return for Sam Cronin and Marvell Wynne, who swapped clubs in the summer. San Jose will be a different proposition this season with former Rapids star Dominic Kinnear in charge and they play their first MLS game in the new 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium at the end of March.

The Rapids squad

All the new signings have been named in the traveling party - Marcelo Sarvas, Zac MacMath, Michael Harrington, Axel Sjoberg, Bobby Burling, Lucas Pittinari and the aforementioned Cronin. Shane O’Neill and Dillon Serna join up with the team after their spell with the USMNT. Draftees Joe Greenspan and Dominique Badji will be in Vegas while captain Drew Moor has traveled as he continues his comeback from injury. A number of trialists and players from Charlotte Independence, the Rapids’ USL affiliate, are also on the trip.

What Pablo Says:

“It was a great start to the preseason in San Diego; being away and working on some concepts and philosophies that we want to implement from a tactical perspective. Now we are ready to take on opponents and put the practice into our play to see how it translates.

“I am looking forward to seeing that, along with assessing the new, individual talent as they come from different teams, different styles of play and integrate into ours.

“The newcomers to the group have provided a pep and excitement. The guys that returned from last year have received these guys.They are becoming a tight group and we are excited about what lies ahead.”