A sense of relief washed over many Major League Soccer supporters on Wednesday as a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was done and dusted. And what does that mean? A chance for the Colorado Rapids to start the season off with a result, and perhaps put an end to the 0-12-2 streak that they are currently on as they take on Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The match can be found on Altitude here in Colorado or via MLS Live at 2PM MST. Pre-game is at 1:30 PM
What am I looking for out of this match:
It is the first game, but the result and performance matter: It is only the first of 33 games so it is best to not put too much stock into the game, but let's be honest: a good performance is important. The Rapids made a large number of roster moves, by getting rid of 15 players and brining in 11 new ones. This is a gigantic change for a club that needed it and it is time to see whether it was all worth it. Do they need to win? Do they need to draw? Do they need a close loss? I predicted that the Rapids would draw in this one, but at the end of the day, they need to play well which is not something they did much over the last half of 2014.
Is the Defense really improved: The defense was very poor (and porous) over the last 14 games and the Rapids have done many things to fix this, but it is time to put up or shut up. The Union have a potent attack and have been scoring at a good clip in preseason. Regardless of who gets the start, they MUST put in a better performance then was on display for the majority of the final 14 games.
And what about the offense: For as bad as the defense was, the offense does not get off without shouldering a good portion of the blame. It is simple: soccer matches are won when you score more goals than the opposition. The Rapids are not going to win many 1-0 games, so they have to find a way to put the ball on frame and into the back of the net.