Rapids notes: Ahead of NY, team getting healthy

Key players return from injuries; rugby star goes home

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids have a quick turnaround this week with just two practice sessions in the Rocky Mountains before leaving for the East Coast Thursday lunchtime for this weekend’s game against New York.

Wednesday’s training session was encouraging in terms of recovering personnel, though.

Marvell Wynne had his first session with the team since injuring his hamstring in the 3-0 victory over Houston at the end of last month. The otherwise ever-present defender is likely to make the trip to New York, though head coach Gary Smith said he will be on the phone with his center back first thing Thursday morning to see how the recovery is progressing.

Pablo Mastroeni looked fully recovered from an illness that had left him unwell 24 hours before last weekend’s Chivas USA game.

Absentees included backup goalkeeper Ian Joyce, who was celebrating the birth of his daughter earlier this week, and Omar Cummings, who is due to rejoin the team in New York after playing for the Jamaican National Team in a 2-1 loss to Peru in Florida on Tuesday night.

Cummings, this time wearing his yellow boots, scored a belter from 25 yards for Jamaica’s only goal.

The Rapids looked sharp in training. The players had an 11-a-side scrimmage Tuesday with guest players making up some of the numbers.

Assistant coach Steve Guppy, back from a whistle stop tour of England to be best man at his brother’s wedding, also guested in the scrimmage.

On Wednesday, the squad played a nine-a-side game at the end of the session.

Quincy Amarikwa scored a cracker with a left-footed volley after a typical through-ball over the top of the defense from Claudio Lopez.

Kosuke Kimura, as usual, was one of the last players to leave the field, working on some extra wing play with Guppy alongside Jamie Smith and Danny Earls.

England rugby union star Danny Cipriani has flown back home after a week or so in Colorado. Gary Smith said the rugby international, who has reportedly fallen out with national-team coach Martin Johnson, was just seeing if there were any opportunities to play soccer at the professional level.

His relationship with the team stems from contacts within Tottenham Hotspur that Steve Guppy has. Smith said Cipriani wasn’t yet at a level that would challenge back-up forwards such as Amarikwa and Andre Akpan.

Cipriani is due to play rugby in Australia for a club team, a move that Johnson has reportedly said would count him out of the England team for next year’s Rugby Union World Cup.

Colorado are still trying to sign French striker Yoann Arquin, but the coaching staff have admitted difficulties in securing a contract with the youngster. They have until Sept. 15 before the transfer window closes.

Smith said his team is relishing the trip to New York for this weekend’s game. He knows it will be as difficult as any of the other three road games the team has in Dallas, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

“They’re all as difficult as the next for different reasons,” he said. “[New York are] the marquee team in the league — extremely talented individuals who have come together as a group this year. If we can get a result, we go level with them.

"We then come home again and put a huge amount of pressure on the teams that are chasing. We are away from home after two good wins and are very confident.”

The game kicks off at Red Bull Arena at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 11.