FOXBORO, MA - APRIL 24: Pablo Mastroeni #25 of the Colorado Rapids shoots on net against the defense of Joseph Niouky #23 of New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on April 24, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Earlier, he scored the go-ahead goal to give the Rapids a 2-1 win. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
For the first time in what seems like forever, my three keys to the Houston game actually wound up coming into play. I said they needed to improve communication and they did just that with crisp and possessive football all game long. I said they needed to get some goals on set-pieces... and they scored off a long free kick and surprisingly off a long throw-in as well. While that's not really a set-piece, it's close enough for me! Omar Cummings got injured, or he might have... well anyway, it's a new game and I'm going to try to go two for three again on these.
Here's three keys to beating the New England Revolution at their home stadium.
Score First - Colorado have earned four tough points from their last two games, not bad considering that they went down 1-0 in both of those games to start out. Colorado doesn't necessarily have to shut out their opponent every game but not going down 1-0 isn't exactly a recipe for success. Obviously the demons of the last few years have been exorcised - Colorado had gone several years without a come-from-behind win up until last year when they won the MLS Cup of all games after going down early - but scoring first will shut up the road crowd a bit and make it much easier to earn three points on the road, which will be critical for the Rapids success, especially on such short rest after the Houston game.
Secondary Goals - Colorado has played a total of six strikers this season and out of the eleven goals they've scored, only six of them have been from that gang of strikers. This is a very deep striker squad - the talented Andre Akpan was the sixth string a week ago, remember - but with the two up top changing every week this team needs goals from all over the field until they can get back to a steady state with Omar Cummings and Conor Casey up top. Jamie Smith is the most likely candidate with three goals this season but other guys like Jeff Larentowicz need to step up. Wells Thompson played fantastically against his old team last time these two met in Commerce City, scoring a goal that night, so we might see some action from him. Of all people, Tyrone Marshall leads the Rapids in all time goals against the Revolution right now, so if he starts you may even see something from the central defender. As long as the burden isn't placed completely on the shoulders of Folan and Akpan the goals should flow from this very talented offensive side.
Finish Your Damn Chances - The Rapids played incredibly well against the Chicago Fire for huge chunks of the game, winning the possession battle almost 70-30. The old demon of finishing seems to have come back to Colorado's psyche, and it is a frightening prospect that the Rapids can out possess a team like that and not finish enough chances - and believe me, there were plenty of amazing chances - to get more than a single goal. They really only scored one goal like that against Houston as well, with Jamie Smith's goal being more of a fluke goal than anything else I've seen this season. They have to put their chances in front of the net into the net, and by 'they' I DON'T mean Scott Palguta.