COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids have a long list of players coming back from injury and trying to break into the Starting XI. Here’s a full status update on these players from Colorado Rapids training on Tuesday.
Injury and Fitness Updates From Colorado Rapids Training
Danny Wilson, Joe Mason, and Dillon Serna were present and are fully participating in training. Wilson is still recovering from an undisclosed injury but was on the bench over the weekend at Real Salt Lake. Serna suffered an injury late in training last week but was on the bench as well.
Mason had been held out recently due to a minor undisclosed injury but appears to be back and nearly availability for selection come Sunday.
“Dillon Serna, he’s is going to be ok,” Rapids Manager Anthony Hudson told Last Word on Soccer, adding “we’re in a much better place that we were a week or two ago.”
Hudson described Wilson as “pain-free” and “available for this week.”
The fact that Serna and Wilson were in the 18 on Saturday is a good sign. Expect them to be at or near 100% for Sunday’s nationally televised match against Orlando City SC. Expect Mason to be close as well.
Hudson has been careful with players coming back from injury, so we’ll see if either of them start. Axel Sjoberg has been excellent in the middle center back role, so there’s no rush for Wilson. The same can be said for Mason, as Hudson has three other attackers who are healthy and looking to get minutes.
Serna might be pushed into the Starting XI sooner with Marlon Hairston’s availability still in doubt.
Still on the mend:
Kortne Ford is still recovering from his MCL injury last month. He was at training today, but spent most of the time away from the team, running sprints and light drills with the medical staff.
“Kortne is closer. We’re now seeing him run around the pitch. He’s getting stronger,” Hudson said. He went on to say that Ford is on track with his recovery, but is still a ways away.
This is Ford’s seventh week of a reported 8-10 week recovery period. He won’t be ready for Sunday but expect him to be back sometime in early May.
Marlon Hairston has been doing rehab outside of the regularly scheduled team training sessions. “Marlon’s on track. His rehab is going well,” said Hudson, adding that there’s no timeline for his return but that it’s not far away.
Historically, Hudson and the Rapids have been cautious with players who almost ready but not quite fully fit. I wouldn’t count on Hairston playing against Orlando.
At full fitness and competing for minutes:
Stefan Aigner, Yannick Boli, and Shkelzen Gashi are all fully present and approaching full fitness. Boli and Gashi have both come off the bench in the last two games. Neither has played more than 30 straight minutes though.
To be fair, the first half red card to Tim Howard threw a monkey wrench into Hudson’s plan for RSL:
“I really wanted to get [Gashi] in earlier and in different circumstances. The conditions of the game affected his role.”
Had the red card not have happened, we could have seen Gashi be the first sub off the bench and play an excess of 30 minutes. He’ll be available for Sunday and look for him to get the most minutes he’s gotten yet.
Boli is now in his third full week of training with the club at altitude. He’s ready physically, but still has work to do in another facet of the game.
Hudson said of the striker “he looks like he’s understanding how we want to play. It’s not just fitness-wise, he’s also got to fit into how we want to play. That’s promising. It’s great that we’ve got some competition now up front.”
Boli will be available for Sunday. I wouldn’t expect him to play more than Gashi. If he does see the field, pay attention to how he gels with the rest of the team. If he fits in seamlessly, that will be a good omen for him getting into the Starting XI soon.
Now onto Stefan Aigner. He hasn’t played in almost a month (March 31 against Philadelphia Union, 11 minutes off the bench). Several outlets have reported on a verbal altercation that occurred in training two weeks ago between Hudson and Aigner that since has Aigner out of favor with the manager supposedly.
Last Word on Soccer does not care for speculation and inferencing on hearsay when the only a small fraction of the full story is known. The two had a less than harmonious conversation that led to Aigner not being a full participant in training for a day. He has not seen the field since.
Aigner is listed as available for selection. His future inclusion or exclusion from the teamsheet is purely a coach’s decision at this point. How that decision comes about, fairly or unfairly, is between the player and the manager.
Colorado Rapids take on Orlando City SC this Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 2:00 PM CST and can be seen on ESPN. The match will be the first national broadcast of the season for the Rapids.