Rapids practice report: Morale is good

Colorado look ahead to matchup against conference rivals Dallas

Brian Mullan

Photo Credit: 
Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Much of the Colorado Rapids first team enjoyed a day off from training on Wednesday after Tuesday's session helped rinse the disappointing home defeat to D.C. United out of their system.

As the team looks ahead to a tough weekend trip to in-form FC Dallas, the only way is forward. On Wednesday, it was the turn of some of the reserve players and a few starters to work hard on the training field and maybe catch the interest of head coach Gary Smith.

How many of the fringe players dress for Saturday’s game remains to be seen, but all healthy bodies will be making the trip to Texas as there is also a reserve game on Sunday morning.

On Wednesday morning morning, 11 players competed in small-sided games and practiced shooting.

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First team and bench regulars Scott Palguta, Claudio Lopez, Quincy Amarikwa, Danny Earls, Ian Joyce, Brian Mullan, Ross LaBaeux and Wells Thompson were joined by Andre Akpan, Davy Armstrong and reserve goalkeeper Steward Ceus.

“Brian (Mullan) has been back in Houston and didn’t train yesterday, so that is why he trained today,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s an opportunity for those who haven’t had a huge amount of playing time to do a bit of supplementary work.”

Julien Baudet trained lightly on the side to rehab his persistent hamstring injury but looks likely to stay in Denver this weekend. Kosuke Kimura, probably the hardest working player in the whole squad, refused to take a day off and practiced crossing on his own as well as offering encouragement to Ceus in goal.

Ceus and Amarikwa later swapped roles after training had officially ended with the lanky goalkeeper shooting on the young striker with some of the new pink MLS balls. Ceus showed he has a powerful shot.

Though there is lingering disappointment from the weekend defeat, nobody is looking backward and morale is good as the Rapids push toward the playoffs, Smith and some of the players said.

One way to restore any dip in morale would be to go to Dallas and get something out of what looks a very tough game on paper.

“This team is very capable of picking up points against whoever we are playing,” Smith said. “We know there is still a lot of work to do.”

The Rapids, who occupy the seventh of eight playoff spots, remain eight points ahead of Kansas City in the race for the postseason. The Wizards have a game in hand.

The first team regulars will be back tomorrow and Friday for two hard training sessions before traveling to Dallas Friday afternoon.

The Rapids kick off against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, at 6 p.m. ET on Oct 9.