Ah, the first weekend of the 2017 MLS Regular Season.
The air is crisp, the wind is steady, and I don’t know how the weather gods picked today in Colorado to be almost 70 degrees but we bow to your greatness.
In celebration of this wonderful midsummer spectacle in greater Denver today, we chat with the Burgundy Wave’s Abbie Mood and welcome her and the Colorado Rapids for the first anti-Jermaine Jones derby or whatever we’ll eventually call it.
Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of that burgundy/red game from the last time New England visitied Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Check out the Burgundy Wave for my answer’s to Abbie’s questions as well.
The Revs and Rapids kick off later this afternoon at 6pm Eastern/4pm Mountain.
TBM: So the Jermaine Jones era is over in Colorado. We know how that feels. What are your overall thoughts his tenure and who is replacing Jones in the lineup for the Rapids?
AM: Jones was here for just a short period of time and played in so few games, that it's almost like he wasn't actually here at all. The only reason we talk about him is in situations exactly like the one you're asking - who is going to play the 10 for the Rapids? Unfortunately, the Rapids didn't go after a 10 (yet, we're hoping something happens this summer), so it's likely going to be Dillon Powers or Kevin Doyle. Both played that role last year, and neither are particularly great there. Doyle has traditionally been a forward for us, but he's the better option in the 10, since we have Dominique Badji to take on that 9 role up top.
Some people think that Bismark "Nana" Adjei-Boateng could play the 10 (he's fast, aggressive, wins balls), but based on his play in Norway and preseason, he's more of a 6/8 guy.
2. Who are the big additions to the roster? Is the team playing a different style under Pablo Mastroeni this year?
The Rapids got Alan Gordon from LA, which is really exciting and he will definitely have an impact up top - he's big, he gets in the box, and he is usually scoring key goals *against* us, so it's nice to have him on our side this year. He will likely be a super sub, though, not a consistent starter.
We also signed Nana from a Norwegian team (though he was on loan from Manchester City). He is young, and is a solid signing. I think he'll be starting over Azira in the midfield by the end of the season.
We also signed a couple great Homegrown guys - Kortne Ford (a defender from a record-breaking DU squad), and Ricardo Perez (a midfielder). Add in a couple Super Draft picks (Sam Hamilton signed earlier today and Jaime Siaj, not signed yet), and both guys give us some solid depth.
The style of play has changed a bit. The formation is still the same (a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3), but the Rapids need to score goals this year. They were tied for 2nd from the bottom in MLS last year with 39, and that's just not going to cut it. In the preseason, we saw a more aggressive offense - getting more guys in the box, getting the ball in the box, pushing up - but it seemed to be at the expense of the defense at times. That being said, it's preseason, so once the starting squad gets out there, we're hoping it will all click.
3. The Rapids were the surprise team of 2016, finishing runners up in the West and two points behind Shield winners FC Dallas. Can they do it again this year?
That depends on whether or not they score goals. If they can rack up some points, then yes. But the Western Conference is tough and there haven't been any big additions to offense, so it's more likely that they'll settle in somewhere around 4th. Even if the offense doesn't get it together, our defense is the same and will carry us through.
Projected Lineup/Injuries/Final Score
Injuries:Questionable - Shkëlzen Gashi (Achilles), Out - Tim Howard (adductor), Dillon Serna (knee)
Zac MacMath; Marc Burch, Axel Sjöberg, Jared Watts, Eric Miller; Micheal Azira, Sam Cronin; Dominique Badji, Dillon Powers, Marlon Hairston; Kevin Doyle