COMMERCE CITY -- Unless Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz displays nothing but his finest behavior throughout the remainder of the Major League Soccer schedule, the veteran midfielder probably is going to be forced to take a one-game hiatus in the near future.
While that would not be good news for the Rapids, it just might open a world of opportunity for Fairview grad Shane O'Neill.
Signed by the Rapids less than three weeks ago, O'Neill has been training regularly with the club's top lineup. With Larentowicz just one yellow card away from earning a mandatory one-game suspension, O'Neill could be in line to make his MLS debut in Larentowicz's spot as a holding midfielder.
"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can every single day, and hopefully the chance will come sooner rather than later," O'Neill said. "I've just got to keep my confidence up and keep playing the way I've been playing, and I think my time will come. Hopefully when it comes, I'll do well."
While O'Neill certainly isn't the only option to slide into Larentowicz's place if and when the yellow card suspension becomes a reality, he has taken regular turns in the backup spot at that midfield position. Colombian Harrison Henao, signed by the club in April, and three-year MLS veteran Joseph Nane also are possibilities to substitute for Larentowicz.
Although Nane has not appeared in a match this season, he owns the only meaningful MLS experience among the trio, having played in 10 games for the Rapids last year and 11 in 2010 with Toronto FC.
"We are working hard with Shane, with Harrison, with Nane, to try and see what the possibilities are that we have there," Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said. "As much as we hate to lose Jeff, the reality is there and we have to be prepared. We're doing the extra mile with those guys to see how we can be prepared in the case that Jeff's not on the field."
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