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Game recap: Colorado Rapids 1, New England Revolution 0

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The Rapids take three points in the home opener.

Celebrating after Dominique Badji’s goal.
John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

The Colorado Rapids kicked off the 2017 season with a home win against the New England Revolution, and while it’s just one game, no one can deny that this is a really good start.

Just three minutes in, Kevin Doyle put a great ball through the box that Marlon Hairston narrowly missed. Much like the preseason, we saw the Rapids push up on offense, and it was paying off - the Rapids were getting some good looks.

In the 13th minute, Axel Sjöberg made what I thought was a very smart foul. He was pushed up in New England’s half, and a Rev player had a very good chance of getting past him, which would have been real bad. So Sjöberg fouled him. Smart.

I thought the defense in general looked a little disjointed for the first 15 or so minutes. In preseason, I noticed that the aggressive offense seemed to be at the expense of the defense and I was afraid that was what we were seeing. I’m still a little worried that our defense will start picking up more fouls as they get caught on their heels, but the D did seem to settle down and get into a groove as things went on. After the first 15ish minutes, they started to click and cover each other a little better.

On that note, the team did a great job tonight of closing down space and getting on the ball. They pressured the Revs into making mistakes, though I’d like to see them take advantage of those mistakes a bit more.

The best (and most terrifying chance) for New England came in the 16th minute. Kei Kamara had quite a bit of space and I thought it was a goal for sure, but Zac MacMath cut down the angle and made Kamara kick it towards him. MacMath had a quick reaction and came up with a big save. After the game, Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni said “I always say your goalkeeper has to make one big save a game, and I think Zac did that and kept us in the game.”

Colorado’s best chance came shortly after in the 20th minute when Hairston led Doyle with a near-perfect pass. Doyle took a couple touches but New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper came out and smothered the ball.

In general, Eric Miller and Marc Burch had decent service into the box throughout the first half (and the game really), and the team got numbers into the box, they just couldn’t get that first goal. Doyle had a decent header that could have (should have?) gone in, Sam Cronin had a rocket of a shot that went wide, and Dominique Badji was getting in there, too, but we went into the half 0-0.

Neither side made any changes to start the second half.

I thought the game got a little boring for awhile there in the first half, but I was feeling good about getting a goal. We deserved a goal.

And then in the 52nd minute, Dillon Powers served a free kick in to Doyle. Doyle hit the post, and when it bounced back, Jared Watts popped it up and Badji headed it in. The Rapids went up 1-0.

About 10 minutes later, Doyle also scored, but it was called back due to a foul that allegedly occurred. Supposedly there was some shoving going on? All I saw was Powers get knocked down. But this was the beginning of several bad calls, so who knows.

Caleb Calvert subbed in directly after for Hairston in the 64th min and picked up a yellow card in the 68th minute. Powers got himself a card for persistent infringement almost directly after. It was getting a little sloppy.

New England was definitely getting more chances this half, but MacMath made some great choices in cutting down angles, letting the ball go, and playing the ball with his feet. In the post-game press conference, Mastroeni told us that he was happy with MacMath’s performance: “He had two or three great saves and the decisions he made with his feet were fantastic.”

The Rapids essentially shut down Kamara and Lee Nguyen, who limped off in the 57th minute. After the game, Mastroeni reflected on the defense. “I think our backline was superb in that regard. I think Axel and Watts did a really good job of minimizing Kamara’s chances facing goal, a lot of his play was back to goal which is where we want him. Defending starts with our ‘9’ and it goes all the way back.”

In the 79th minute, homegrown Dillon Serna came in for the first time since tearing his ACL last summer, and the fans gave him a well-deserved welcome. A few minutes later, Alan Gordon made his Colorado debut, and promptly took a player out vying for a header. #RapidsThugLife

None of the subs really stood out for me, though. Serna hasn’t been on the pitch since his ACL tear last June, and Gordon hadn’t played in any preseason matches, so they were a bit rusty (which to an extent is to be expected). Calvert is feisty and hustled all over the field (as he does), but didn’t get a shot off today. A player that did stand out was Micheal Azira. All preseason I’ve been saying that Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng was going to take Azira’s spot, but if he keeps playing the way he played tonight, there is not a chance of that happening. Azira was the Man of the Match in my opinion. I also thought Jared Watts had a great game.

Mastroeni summed it up as “a fantastic performance, front to back. I think that’s who we are. We’re grinders, we find ways and we believe in ourselves and it’s a great step in the direction we want to move in this year.”

This guy clearly agrees:

What did you think? Who played well? Who didn’t?