Colorado Rapids Win Home Opener On Badji Thumping Header

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COMMERCE CITY, CO - MARCH 04: Colorado Rapids forward Dominique Badji #14 has a chance for a goal against New England Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper #1 and New England Revolution defender Angoua Brou Benjamin #4, but was unable to score in the first half at Dick's sporting Goods Park March 04, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, CO (March 4, 2017) – It was a typical Colorado Rapids performance to start the season. Dominique Badji scored on a broken down set piece in the second half. The defense closed things down and kept the New England Revolution from creating anything dangerous. The Burgundy Boys won and after scoring, the result was never really in doubt.

Colorado Rapids Win Home Opener On Badji Thumping Header

Rapids Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni started an expected lineup based on last year’s team. Kevin Doyle started up top with Dillon Powers behind him in the No. 10 role. Sam Cronin wore the captain’s armband. Axel Sjoberg anchored a back line with Eric Miller at right back and Zac MacMath in goal.

The Revs went through some changes in the off-season. Head Coach Jay Heaps started a 4-3-3 with Cody Cropper in goal and Andrew Farrell leading the back line. Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen started on the wings, with Juan Agudelo up top. Diego Fagundex and Kie Kamara on the wings.

First Half

The Rapids were the better side in the first half, but had trouble creating and finishing chances. They had 56% possession and outshot the Revs 6-4. Three minutes in, Hairston got open on the far post, but Doyle wasn’t able to connect the cross. Kamara had a golden opportunity in the 16th minute when he floated of Sjoberg’s back shoulder to get open at the top of the box. He got a good shot off, but MacMath was able to palm the ball away and it was cleared.

That was the only dangerous chance New England got in the first half. They continued to maintain their shape, with only a few players getting forward. Colorado used their left flank to create chances. Marc Burch and Cronin regularly got forward to overlap and serve the ball inside.

In the 21st minute, Doyle got in front of goal to get a shot off, but Cropper came off his line to get it and smother the rebound. The Rapids did have several corners in the first half. Powers tool all of them for the home side, finding Badji a few times. Every chance was off the mark.

The half ended 0-0 with Chris Tierney on a yellow card.

Second Half

The Revs came out with a bit of energy in the second half, with Kelyn Rowe providing service from the wing. That got smothered in the 52nd minute though. Cronin played a nice slow ball down the sideline to Badji. The forward held the ball up and eventually won a free kick. Powers delivered a ball near post. Doyle made a darting run and headed it off the post. Watts went for it as chaos ensued. The ball got deflected up, and Badji headed it down emphatically. The Rapids were up 1-0.

New England got a bit more proactive after conceding. MacMath came off his line to punch a ball clear on the Revs first corner of the match. He nearly beat Agudelo to the ball. Kamara got a header chance in the 71st minute that just went over the bar. New England continued to send balls into the box, but the Rapids were well organized.

In the 90th minute, the Revs had some good build up and the ball came to substitute Teal Bunbury. The forward took a shot but it was well wide of the far post. New England couldn’t muster anything, appearing gassed at altitude. The match ended 1-0.

Final Thoughts

This was a typical Rapids win. Use the wings and get service into the box. Wear the opponent out. Score in the second half and shut the game down. Colorado still needs to get healthy with Shkelzen Gashi sitting out due to an Achilles issue. Still, everything is on schedule for Mastroeni in 2017.

For the Revs, it’s hard to be too harsh on them with the first game on the road at altitude. Still, the ameba midfield and forward positioning seemed puzzling. It’s still unclear how Agudelo and Kamara will fit together in this formation. The defense needs time to build chemistry. They’re definitely a work in progress for the next month or two.

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