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Rapids team-up for spirited practice before Timbers arrive

The Burgundy Boys get ready for what could be a snowy and cold home opener.

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

The Colorado Rapids held a final practice and an inter-squad scrimmage ahead of their season opener verse the Portland Timber inside DICK’S Sporting Good Park on Friday. The high noon session brought with it strong wind gusts coming off of the foothills and a temperature that dropped rapidly over the course of nearly two hours.

The grounds crew even resorted to firing up a large propane-fueled tube heater that was blowing hot air on the pitch from the northwest corner of the playing field.

Executive Vice President and General Manager Padraig Smith and Senior Vice President of Business Operation Wayne Brant were observing the sidelines, as well as a few select senior members of the C38 supporters’ group. Before the players arrived, Smith curled in a lovely shot into the net from the corner. He even earned a few cheers. Perhaps it is a sign of good things to come this season.

With upbeat music playing in the background, Chad Kolarcik led the all-smiles team through a mix of warm-up activities before turning them over to coaches Anthony Hudson, Darren Bazeley, Neil Emblen, Conor Casey, and Chris Sharpe. The coaching staff worked on tactical field play, set plays, and directed a small side scrimmage with Clint Irwin and Tim Howard playing in opposing goals.

Absent from activities on the field were defensemen Tommy Smith and Kortne Ford who were rehabbing in the player’s weight room, and striker Shkelzen Gashi, who was waived by the team the same day.

The playing field was cleared of any remaining snow from earlier in the week. It was soggy in some areas and displayed a pale green color under the blue Colorado sky.

The game day forecast includes a Winter Weather Advisory for Commerce City and metro Denver. “Banded” style snowfall is expected to really kick in near the 4 p.m start time, with snow accumulation of up to 6 inches. Winds of 10-15 mph and temperatures in the 20s are also predicted. The bright orange MLS game balls are ready near the referee crew’s locker room.