New England Soccer Today

A Preview of Coming Attractions?

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Following Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Houston, Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper described Saturday’s preseason match against Colorado as “a big game for us” – but not for the usual reasons.

No, Saturday’s match won’t have a hidden three points up for grabs. Nor will it contain a secret passage to the Open Cup Final.

Indeed, the final score won’t impact either team’s long-term fortunes. However, when it comes to First Kick preparations, Saturday’s clash will hugely important in the sense that it will probably serve as the Revolution’s first dress rehearsal for the regular season.

“I’m sure [that] the minutes will change,” Cropper told the media after Wednesday’s match. “Maybe a few players will play 60, some will play 30 instead of 45, 45.”

The increase in playing time for some, and a decrease for others is a tried-and-true sign the Revolution first-choice lineup is starting to take shape. Combine that idea with the fact that coach Jay Heaps has often treated the weekend Desert Diamond Cup matches as dry runs for regular season action, and well, New England’s tilt against Colorado might be a preview of coming attractions.

One encouraging development for the Revolution ahead of the match: the return of center backs Antonio Mlinar Delamea and Benjamin Agoua, who both weren’t available on Wednesday due to visa issues. While Delamera has already gotten his feet wet during the club’s first trip to Arizona, Anguoa is still awaiting his preseason debut.

“I think it’s about not necessarily the guys who are missing, but the guys who are here and the guys learning our system,” Revolution right back Andrew Farrell told the media on Wednesday. “Not just necessarily the backline, but [also] the midfield and the forwards.”

Another big name who could see the pitch is Juan Agudelo, who underwent minor facial surgery last week but is expected to see the field sooner rather than later.

One key contributor who’s hoping to see extended minutes is Cropper, who appears to be the projected First Kick goalkeeper in the wake of Bobby Shuttleworth’s trade to Minnesota.

“If I do get on the field, it will be a great opportunity for me to get some understanding of what (the Rapids are) about,” Cropper said. “I think every game really at this point is feeling out every different team and seeing what they do. It’ll be interesting to see what Colorado [brings] on Saturday and how we can adjust.”

No doubt the Rapids will provide another strong test for the Revolution. They’ll enter the match with considerable questions about the backbone of their defense with Jose Goncalves and Gershon Koffie both gone while Delamea, Angoua and Xavier Kouassi all attempt to get acclimated to the club’s style of play.

As far as Farrell is concerned, the name of the game for Saturday – as well as the remaining two preseason matches – is improvement across the pitch for faces both new and old.

“Keep progressing,” Farrell said. “Keep getting that shape down in the 4-4-2 diamond that we’ve been playing. Keep limiting the chances. I think going forward, getting better in the final third and that transition from defense to attack, I think that’s something we’ve been working on in this camp.”

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