COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — It’s been the Colorado Rapids’ running joke that’s dragged on for three months and counting.
The only problem is, nobody’s laughing.
But it finally appears the never-say-die run of injuries that have plagued the Rapids since pre-season could be making significant progress. After a 10-day break, Rapids coach Oscar Pareja could have as many as three players back for next Saturday’s clash at Vancouver, and three key ones at that.
“Brian [Mullan] is getting there, Conor [Casey] is getting close, Omar [Cummings] is getting close, too, hopefully we can get him back in full training early in the week,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “[We’re] getting there, getting people healthier.”
In the Rapids’ 3-2 win over Montreal on May 26, Pareja had to make do without starters Mullan, Casey, Cummings, center back Marvell Wynne and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. And in the lead-up to the Rapids’ 2-0 loss in US Open Cup play last Tuesday, starting center back Drew Moor tweaked a hamstring, forcing him out of the lineup for the contest as well.
All in all, it’s been a headache of injuries that have forced Pareja to make do without the spine of his team.
“I was checking my notes and I don’t think there’s been a team where we’ve looked around and said, ‘This is the full squad,’” Pareja said. “We are always just challenged with injuries, and it may be the case for many other teams. We are not complaining about it or making excuses, it’s just a fact.’”
Mullan (right) told MLSsoccer.com that he expects to be in the lineup for the Vancouver game, while Cummings and Casey could both play as well, according to Pareja.
However, despite Pareja’s optimism about Cummings’ potential return to the pitch next Saturday, the Jamaican himself isn’t so sure. After suffering an ankle sprain May 6, Cummings is hoping to be back in time for the Vancouver game but doesn’t want to push it after ankle sprains sidelined him off and on for much of 2011.
“I guess I’m targeting next week, maybe, with the game being on turf,” Cummings told MLSsoccer.com. “Coming back on turf with an ankle injury is not necessarily the best thing [for] playing your best game. We’ll see how it goes.”
One player who likely won’t play in the Vancouver match is the speedy defender Wynne, who is still battling a right hamstring strain that he picked up early last month.
“The recovery’s going all right. I feel like I should be further along than I am, so that’s kind of disappointing,” Wynne told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday, while eyeing a return for the Rapids’ showdown against San Jose on June 20.
“I just ran today with Drew [Moor], and right now I’m as fast as Drew right now,” Wynne quipped, “so that’s kind of upsetting.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.