The Colorado Rapids. The San Jose Earthquakes. Two Western Conference foes getting together for the first time in 2016 as FirstKick is finally here. For the Rapids, they have not defeated the Quakes since President Obama's first term and will be looking erase the memories of a poor 2015. For the Quakes, they want the three points as every point is critical in a stacked West.
The Goal for the Rapids: Grab a road result.
What to Watch For
1) New Look--The Rapids went through some pretty major overhauls this off-season with a ton of older veterans being shipped out and new players brought in. This is a critical season for the Rapids and they need these players to perform. The likes of Shkelzen Gashi and Marco Pappa and Jermaine Jones will need to have good years if the Rapids are going to compete for a playoff spot.
2) The Goals--The Rapids struggled in the preseason to score goals against MLS quality opponents, and they are up against a physical and defensively minded San Jose team. Regardless of formation or who is on the pitch, the Rapids need to find ways to put the ball into the back of the net. Kevin Doyle looks primed and ready to go, but he will need to get service. Service leads to goals and goals lead to wins.
3) The Defense--The defense is still a bit of a work in progress, but I would expect we see Bobby Burling and Axel Sjoberg partnered together. And it looks like the outside backs are going to get more involved (in comparison to past years) in the attack. But they looked out of sorts at times during the preseason, and the Quakes do have a potent combination in Quincy Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski up front and they will test the Rapids back four.
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson and Corey Rockwell
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Injuries: Colorado--OUT--Sean St. Ledger. San Jose--OUT: Marc Pelosi, Fatai Alashe, Cordell Cato, Jordan Stewart. QUESTIONABLE: Andres Imperiale
Suspensions: Colorado--Jermaine Jones. San Jose: Matias Perez Garcia
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Sunday, 6 March 2016 at 1:00 PM MST
Venue: Avaya Stadium--San Jose, California
TV Information: Altitude 2
Live Stream Information: MLS Live (blackouts apply)
Predicted Starting XI
Well, some things are a bit more clear in regard to injury and suspension, so here is my best guess (and probably wrong) Starting XI for the Rapids:
Zac MacMath, Marc Burch, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjoberg, Eric Miller, Micheal Azira, Sam Cronin, Shkelzen Gashi, Dillon Powers, Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle.
This will be your official Burgundy Wave game thread for this MLS Cup opener. Please check back here for reaction, analysis and commentary!