Friday, March 14, 2014

And So It Begins...

The Pablo Mastroeni era (as coach) officially begins tomorrow as the Rapids finally get the season started.  Colorado is in New York to face Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls.  Game time tomorrow is 2pm and the game will be broadcast on Altitude with Richard Fleming and Marcelo Balboa on the mics again this year.  The game will also be broadcast on Univision Deportes.

Injury Report:
OUT: Brian Mullan (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: Clint Irwin (R quad strain), Danny Mwanga (sports hernia surgery)

New York has 5 players questionable but everyone is available for them unlike last week.  You never want to see your starting GK on the injury list, Pablo says it will probably be a game-time decision for Irwin while I don't expect Mwanga to factor in the game.  Of course I wouldn't expect him tom factor into the game if he was healthy.  If Irwin can't go, rookie John Berner would get the start as Joe Nasco has been absent due to the birth of his first child.  Congrats!

My guess at our starting XI, and it really is a guess.  The first game of the season is hard enough to figure out even when you don't have a new coach:

Powers is not on the injury report, but he's not at full fitness due to his preseason injury concerns.  I still think he'll get the start but I wouldn't be shocked to see Sanchez start in his place or sub in for him.  We could also see Powers start instead of Sturgis and Sanchez in the middle in front of him.

Strategic Consideration: Last week Vancouver shredded New York 4-1 by working it right through the center of their defense.  The wings didn't factor in much at all, because they didn't need to.  To be fair to New York both Henry and Olave weren't available last week and they will be there tomorrow, but the Rapids should try to exploit that central weakness by having Buddle and Powers/Sanchez control the ball through the middle to spring Torres and Brown.

Prediction: 2-1 loss, goal by Brown.  The Rapids never play well on the road early in the season and NY will be looking for some revenge after that embarrassing display in B.C. last week.  Their home opener while celebrating with the Supporters Shield is a big hill for Pablo's first game in charge and I think its too steep for this team.  Brown is on fire right now and will get a goal, but it won't be enough.

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