First kick! Man, oh man, it feels really good to write that.
It's finally arrived, the first game of the new MLS season for the Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew, two very familiar foes. After two straight years of playoff meetings and some very hard fought games in the regular season, the Crew and Rapids meet for their first and only meeting of 2012 under the new scheduling system - this is probably a good thing, since the Rapids have recently been absolutely terrible at Crew Stadium.
The Crew look a bit different than we're used to after Robbie Rogers left for Leeds United and Andres Mendoza, their leading goalscorer from last season, was let go as well. There's still plenty of talent on the Crew roster with guys like Eddie Gaven and Will Hesmer sticking around, but it's something of an interesting year for the Crew after a very busy offseason featuring pickups of a bunch of new players and dropping a ton of players as well... very similar to our own Rapids, an unknown commodity of sorts.
Omar Cummings will start to try and rebound from his dreadful 2011 season against a team we know he can score against; both previous games against Columbus have featured a Cummings goal including the only goal of that 1-0 win in the playoffs. This will be our first real intimate look at the new 4-3-3 formation for Colorado, so it's a game of great interest. We'll obviously all have a close eye on Martin Rivero if he ends up being able to play, though even if he's cleared it seems like he's going to start on the bench.
This game will likely set the tone for the season; if the Rapids come out and score four goals we know that the new system works, but a Columbus shutout would be... concerning, especially considering the Rapids have been so fantastic against the Crew at home in recent years.
The game will be at Dick's Sporting Goods Park at 4 PM Mountain Time. Check out Massive Report for
free cans of Barbasol a Columbus Crew tinted look at things, here's their official game preview, complete with this year's first instance of people being unable to spell 'Conor Casey' correctly.
Come on you Rapids!