Tim Howard at the STH training event today
Monday night the Rapids will host arguably one of the five biggest home games in their history. The team's inaugural game in 1996, the opener of DSG Park in 2007, the Eastern Conference Final in 2010, and the home opener/MLS Cup celebration in 2011 likely would be the others on that list. Howard's addition marks the next stage in the growth of this team. The keey now is to back up the off-field hype with on-field play. So far this season the Rapids have done so but they'll have their biggest audience so far for this one. Ticket prices are high and the secondary market is hopping for this game.
Kickoff is at 7pm with the traditional 4th of July fireworks after the game. The tailgate will start at 4 and is expected to be crowded. Made-Rite sandwiches will be the bonus menu item at the tailgate. For those of us who can't make it the game will be on Altitude and will be streamed free on MLS Live if you live outside the Denver and Portland areas. I said "those of us" who can't make it because, as always on Independence Day, I have a better offer. Namely celebrating my (18th this year) anniversary with my wife.
OUT: D Bobby Burling (knee surgery); D Sean St. Ledger (knee); M Dillon Serna (season ending ACL tear)
ONE YELLOW FROM SUSPENSION: D Axel Sjoberg (5 games for good behavior reduction)
No surprises there but it would be nice for Axel to save his upcoming suspension until Burling or St. Ledger is ready to start. Portland is only missing their goalkeeper who's recovering from a long term injury.
Starting XI Prediction:
I mean, why wouldn't you use this lineup?
Prediction: 2-1 win, goals by Jones and Kevin Doyle. Portland's got a decent offense but their defense is a mess. I could see us getting a shutout given our defensive record but I'm guessing that the transition between MacMath and Howard will result in one goal being given up as everyone settles into the change, Still we're a better team than Portland this year and with the crowd behind us, we get the win.