Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution: A Surprising Must Win Game

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COMMERCE CITY, CO - FEBRUARY 20: Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, right, and Tommy Smith, middle, walk onto the field before the game as temperatures plummet to 3 degrees at the start of the game on February 20, 2018 in Commerce City, Colorado. This is the first round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Colorado Rapids take on the defending MLS Cup champs in tonight's game. The coldest game on record is 19 degrees at kickoff. Tonight's game could be much colder. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Editorial (March 10, 2018) – It’s finally here. The Colorado Rapids kick off their 2018 Major League Soccer season today in a road match at New England Revolution. While this is just the first of 34 matches, it will be an interesting league debut for Head Coach Anthony Hudson. When looking at the big picture, believe it or not, Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution is a must win game.

Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution: A Surprisingly Early Must Win Game For Colorado

Let’s start by looking at the quality of the opponent. The New England Revolution didn’t make the playoffs last year, same as the Rapids. They have a new Head Coach in Brad Friedel. He’s got some new ideas for the team that came with some roster changes in the off-season. In that sense, Friedel and Hudson are in the same boat.

A Vulnerable Opponent:

But for this match, the Revolution have some other baggage to deal with. After rumblings of a transfer request in the new year, Lee Nguyen and the organization are not on the best of terms. Their star No. 10 and MVP candidate back in 2014 was not in the 18 for their season opener, a 2-0 loss at Philadelphia Union. Kelyn Rowe started that game on the bench. The club is also reportedly trying to off-load DP forward Krisztián Németh, with nothing coming so far.

The Revs also suffered red cards in their loss last weekend to their two starting center backs, Antonio Mlinar Delamea and Claude Dielna. With their best player wanting out, two other attacking stars out of favor, and short-handed back line, the Revolution are hardly at full strength going into their first road game.

Hudson Using CCL to Hype This Match:

The Rapids are coming off an early CONCACAF Champions League exit, a 2-0 aggregate defeat to powerhouse Toronto FC. Colorado did not go all out to advance in the Round of 16: Stefan Aigner did not see the field. A number bench players were given starts in the second leg, despite Colorado being down on aggregate. Hudson did not use a substitution in the first leg, even after being scored on.

Oh, and then THIS happened, fairly or unfairly.

Regardless of whether Rapids fans cared about CCL or thought Colorado could have beaten TFC (and then Tigres UNAL, and then probably Club America), Hudson always talked about CCL in the context of getting ready for the start of the MLS season. On several occasions, he talked about it in the context of the season opener at New England. In several quotes, he referred to the match or date specifically.

Hudson and the organization have made all their preseason work and the exercise of CCL about the MLS season and about being ready to go today. Even if they weren’t ready last week at BMO Field, or on February 20th in Leg One. They’ve made it about today, so it matters despite being an away game against a non-conference opponent they probably won’t play the rest of the year.

Bringing Hope:

The Rapids have finished at or near the bottom of the Western Conference three of the last four seasons. Last year, the front office took numerous steps to acknowledge their shortcomings and course correct. Today is the official start of that journey on the field.

It’s cliche, but winning fixes everything. Want to give fans hope? Win and make the playoffs. Want to prove that hiring Hudson and all the off-season changes were the right decisions? Win and make the playoffs. Want to quell the critics (in Colorado or elsewhere) about the CCL exit and the Twitter Eco Chamber response to it? Win and make the playoffs.

Beating New England would be a step in the positive-x direction.

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