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What We Know and What We Don't: Colorado Rapids Edition

In which we preview this Saturday's home opener.


Okay, so last week's match against Vancouver didn't exactly go like we had expected.  To put it bluntly, the New York Red Bulls were completely embarrassed on and off the pitch.  The good news is, they had a nice long flight back home to sit and think about what they had done wrong and how they can fix it in this weekend's home Opener against the Colorado Rapids.

Here's what we know:

  • New York is back to full strength

The Red Bulls went into Vancouver without  Thierry Henry or Jamison Olave in order to prevent them from playing on the Whitecaps' concrete pitch.   The two starters' absence was obvious from the first whistle as New York was completely bossed all over the field.  Fortunately, both players will be reinserted into the starting lineup this Saturday and their presence should be felt immediately.   Olave will bring some much needed familiarity and confidence to a back line that seemed to struggle without him, while Henry bolsters an already solid attacking core.

  • Colorado is not

As of this morning, it looks like both midfielder (and last year's rookie of the year winner) Dillon Powers, along with starting goal keeper Clint Irwin, will both be scratches for tomorrow's game. Powers is still recovering from tendonitis in his knee and has himself said he's not fully 100%, while Irwin has been sidelined with some kind of muscle problem in his leg.  The Rapids will have to count on 2014 SuperDraft pick, John Berner to make his first MLS start in order to fill in for Irwin.   You can expect New York's attack to put a ton of pressure on the rookie keeper.

  • We should see a more familiar back line

Jamison Olave is back, Roy Miller is rested and Kosuke Kimura will most likely start at right back after Richard Eckersley's miserable performance last week.  While the second centerback spot is up for grabs between Ibrahim Sekagya and Armando, we will be seeing a back four that is more similar to last year's than last week's.  A more familiar back line means better communication which means better performance overall and a happy Luis Robles.

Here's what we don't know:

  • What Colorado looks like
For the second week in a row, Mike Peke will be forced to send his boys out against an untested side.  This will be the first game of the 2014 season for the Rapids, who will be managed by rookie head coach, Pablo Mastroeni.   While the Rapids beat the pants off the Red Bulls in Colorado last summer, this is going to be a very different team than what we saw under Oscar Pareja.   This will be the second match in a row in which New York faces a first time manager, and we saw how well that worked out last week.

  • What will Petke be thinking?
It's widely held that the Vancouver match was not Petke's crowing moment in the sun.   A strange starting eleven and even stranger substitution decisions led to an absolute shellacking at the hands of the Whitecaps.  It's safe to assume the Mike learned some valuable lessons...but is it really?   It was safe to assume after last season that Peguy Luyindula was done at forward and a lock at center mid, yet come opening whistle, there he was; back up top.   It was also safe to assume that Bradley Wright-Phillips would get the start due to the absence of Thierry Henry, yet Petke opted to go with a game and travel worn Tim Cahill instead.   What kind of assumptions will be proven wrong this week?   Will Lloyd Sam start the match on the bench despite his "man of the match" worthy performance last week?  Will Eckersley get another shot on the back line?   Will Peguy Start at the CAM or will we see another flat performance from Erick Alexander?

The one thing we can be certain of is that it was a long offseason and tomorrow's match will be a much welcome return to the pitch inside of Red Bull Arena.   Regardless of Mike Petke's opinion on the matter, we'll all get one more chance to celebrate the Supporter's Shield champions as they unfurl a long missing banner to mark the occasion.   After that, it's a whole new season.  Let's keep our eyes on the cup.