Just like the Seattle Sounders, the Colorado Rapids are facing a host of health questions heading into the Western Conference finals.
Aside from Tim Howard who has already been ruled out for the year, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni gave an update on the availability of his recently injured players on Wednesday, including Shkëlzen Gashi and Marco Pappa.
Gashi came off injured in the Rapids’ semifinal match against the LA Galaxy and is a much bigger question mark for his team ahead of Tuesday’s Western Conference Final first leg in Seattle.
“Gashi is making steady improvements every day with his ankle,” Mastroeni said. “Having said that, we're going to continue to wait before making a decision as to whether or not we want him to go into that game, whether he's capable of going in that game, and/or do we wait to have him at the home leg here.”
As the Rapids’ leading scorer in the 2016 regular season, Gashi is a key part of Mastroeni’s team and would be a pretty big loss in attack for a team that scored fewer goals than all but one team in the league this year.
Of particular note to Sounders fans is the news that former Seattle midfielder Pappa could also miss the first leg in Seattle, thanks to a setback on a hamstring injury that’s been plaguing him for weeks. Mastroeni said the team is being “cautious” with Pappa, but that he hopes to give the player a chance to face his former team. Various injuries have limited Pappa to fewer than 900 minutes, in which he’s scored just two goals and had two assists. This has been, by far, his least productive full season in MLS.
“I know how much it would mean to him to be on the field and to contribute, and to have an opportunity to beat his old team,” he said.
The prognosis is looking a bit better for Jermaine Jones, who started a pair of World Cup qualifiers for the United States men’s national team last week. Jones went the full 90 minutes against Mexico last Friday and then played 71 minutes in a loss at Costa Rica on Tuesday. Mastroeni didn’t seem worried, though. “Jermaine obviously played last night and didn't report any injuries, so he should be full go for the game against Seattle.”