Martin Rivero took part in his first training session with the Rapids - Feb.29, 2012

Long session welcomes team back to Colorado

Commerce City, Colo. - It was shortly after noon Wednesday when coach Oscar Pareja whistled the end of training. At that point, the team had been on the field for over two hours.

"Our practices are generally 90 minutes in length," Pareja said. "I don't like to have long practices, but today we wanted to re-acclimate the players to the altitude and weather. With the travel and days off, the players have been resting the past few days and adjusting to the time change. In terms of time, today was an atypical practice."

The last time some of the players practiced was last Friday at the University of Hawaii. And for the rest, their last workout was Saturday's match against Melbourne at Aloha Stadium.

One player who felt the altitude was newly acquired midfielder Martin Rivero, who took part in his first training session.

"I felt it a little," Rivero said of the altitude, although he completed the full session. "I'm hoping that with more days and practices that I can adapt to it.

"The players have made me feel very comfortable. I'm happy with having completed my first training session and I feel good."

Pareja said the team was happy to be begin training on a grass field at Dick's Sporting Goods Park after spending the first portion of preseason on the artificial turf.

A final closed-door scrimmage has been arranged for Saturday against the Colorado School of Mines inside the stadium.

"We're playing a friendly so that we can give the guys 90 minutes of action," said Pareja. "That's the important piece for us, to be ready to go for 90 minutes."

Another highlight of Wednesday's training was the participating of injured players Conor Casey, Jamie Smith, and Anthony Wallace in the opening fitness drills. Not yet given the all clear, Casey and Smith then moved to the sideliness to continue working with the training staffs, while Wallace got involved in some lighter passing exercises.

Colorado kick off the 2012 season on Saturday, March 10 when they host the Columbus Crew at Dick's Sporting Goods Park (TICKETS).