COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Much of the focus was on the New England Revolution’s revamped backline ahead of Saturday evening’s season opener at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, but it was New England’s attack that never quite seemed to click in a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath was forced to make just three saves in the shutout – only really troubled by Kei Kamara’s first-half chance – as the Revs struggled to break down a Colorado side that boasted the league’s best defense in 2016.
“I thought they did a good job,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said of the hosts. “They crowd the middle. They swarmed our guys when they got it. They did a nice job of that. Everyone on their team works hard to break plays up and they broke a lot of plays up.
“We were just a step off on things. Offensively, we never really found a rhythm.”
The loss of attacking catalyst Lee Nguyen early in the second half didn’t help matters, as the Revolution captain limped off with a left ankle contusion after taking multiple knocks to the same area. Nguyen said he would be re-evaluated on Monday.
“I was trying to go in the second half and I got kicked again right at the beginning, and I wasn’t able to put any pressure on it,” Nguyen said. “I tried, but I couldn’t keep going.”
But by the time Nguyen was forced off, New England had already conceded the game’s only goal. Kevin Doyle found space to get on the end of Dillon Powers’ set piece in the 52nd minute and flashed a header off the post, Dominique Badji following up to bundle a header over the line.
It was an opportunistic finish from the Rapids, who were largely limited by the Revolution’s new-look defense, including offseason center back signings Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Mlinar Delamea.
Colorado generated just two shots on target: the goal, and a Doyle chance in the first half that goalkeeper Cody Cropper was quick off his line to snuff out.
“I thought our defense played well tonight,” Heaps said. “I thought the two center backs combined well defensively. I thought Cody made an early save that was critical. Other than that, there wasn’t a ton in the game. It wasn’t a barnburner, so to speak.”
With their defensive resolve as a silver lining from Saturday’s loss, the Revs will now look towards next weekend’s home opener against Orlando City SC, knowing that they’re capable of much more.
“That’s a huge game for us,” said Cropper. “Losing this game is not the start that we wanted. Now we take it home. That’s a huge game for us and we need to take three points there.”