New England Soccer Today

The Warm Up: #COLvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Who: Revolution (0-0-0, 0 points) vs. Colorado Rapids (0-0-0, 0 points)
What: Week 1 of the MLS regular season
Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
When: Saturday, Mar. 4 at 6:00pm ET
Watch: CSN New England, MLS Live, Direct Kick
Whistle: Jose Carlos Rivero – Head Referee; Apolinar Mariscal/Brian Poeschel – Assistant Referees; Younes Marrakchi – 4th Referee.

Scouting the Opposition:

– Colorado returns their defensive foundation from 2016 of Eric Miller, Axel Sjoberg, Jared Watts, and Marc Burch as the back four and U.S. international Tim Howard in goal. Colorado allowed a league-low 32 goals in 2016, the only team to concede less than one goal per game.

– The Rapids played the entire 2016 campaign in a 4-2-3-1, but head coach Pablo Mastroeni has been implementing a 4-3-3 system in an attempt to create more chances. Colorado scored 39 goals last year, tied for second worst with the Houston Dynamo.

– In addition to the new formation, the Rapids re-stocked their squad after losing Jermaine Jones and Marco Pappa by adding MLS veteran forward Alan Gordon and Ghanaian midfielder Bismark Adjei-Boateng, a former Manchester City product with professional experience from his loan with Stromgodset of Norway.

– These additions will support Shkelzen Gashi, Dominique Badji, and Kevin Doyle, the projected starter up top for the Rapids. The trio combined for 21 of the team’s 39 goals in the 2016 season.

– Jay Heaps on Colorado: “First and foremost, they’re a very similar team that they were last year. They were a couple points away from winning Supporters’ Shield last year. Undefeated at home. They know who they are and they know each other well and they have a good system. Pablo does a great job of organizing, so they’re a hard team to break down. If you overexpose or try to do too much, they can counter and hurt you. The reality is we have to go in there with a mindset of understanding what we’re all about.”

Recent History:

-The Revolution are on a mini hot streak against Colorado, winning the prior three MLS meetings over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, scoring seven goals while not conceding to the Rapids.

– Despite that recent success, the Revolution have not faired particularly well in the state of Colorado historically: The Revolution’s 2-0 win in April 2015 is the only Revolution win in Colorado since June 2002.

-If you want to put any weight on pre-season matchups: The Rapids and their new 4-3-3 formation defeated the Revolution 3-1 two weeks ago in the Desert Diamond Classic. Dominique Badji tallied once and 20-year-old Caleb Calvert scored twice for the Rapids, while Juan Agedulo put the Revolution on the board. This matchup saw different starting elevens from both sides, and mass substitutions in the second half, so Saturday’s game should play out differently.

3 Things to Know:

1) Be on your best behavior: Saturday’s referee, Jose Carlos Rivero refereed 12 MLS games in 2016, handing out 50 yellow cards and two red cards. He may not be in Baldomero Toledo territory on dismissals, but his 4.17 yellow cards per game was second-highest in the MLS last season.

2) Altitude Adjustment: Home field advantage aided the Rapids to an unbeaten 11-0-6 record in 2016 and dealing with hard conditions may prove to add an obstacle for the Revolution this early in the season.

3) Thrown into the fire: The Revolution will be debuting new centerback pairing of Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Mlinar Delamea, who have looked well during training, but only played together for 92 minutes over two preseason games.

Score prediction: I expect a bunkered down game with scant scoring chances. The Revolution will have difficulty breaking through the Rapids’ defense, and Colorado is in the process of experimenting with a new formation. But the Rapids should be able to score a breakthrough, whereas the Revolution I’m not as certain about. 1-0 Colorado.

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