or score -- on the road.
The Rapids continued that theme with the 11th-minute opener. Colin Clark took off down the left flank and swung in a cross to the heart of the box where Nick LaBrocca raced in unmolested to nod home his first goal on the season.
In the 35th minute, RSL reserve goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was called upon to make his MLS debut when Nick Rimando suffered a cut hand that forced him from the contest. RSL was dealt a further blow four minutes from halftime when defender Jamison Olave was sent off with a straight red card after a tackle on Conor Casey.
The Rapids finally took advantage at the hour mark. Jordan Harvey long cross from the left found Terry Cooke on the opposite side of goal. He laid the ball back for Kosuke Kimura just outside the edge of the area, and the Rapids fullback lashed home a low angled shot for his first professional goal.
Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy the weekend before. Matt Pickens returned between the posts, coming in for Preston Burpo, while Nick LaBrocca came into a central midfield spot ahead of Mehdi Ballouchy.
Here's Smith's team (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Ugo Ihemelu, Scott Palguta, Jordan Harvey - Terry Cooke (Jacob Peterson 68), Pablo Mastroeni (Greg Dalby 92+), Nick LaBrocca, Colin Clark - Conor Casey, Omar Cummings (Mehdi Ballouchy 76). Substitutes Not Used: Preston Burpo, Ivan Guerrero, Ty Harden, Ross Schunk
After Mehdi Ballouchy had started each of the first six games in the driving central midfield role, Smith moved Nick LaBrocca into that role for the RSL game to great effect, scoring the opening goal. LaBrocca had started the first five games of the season, mainly in a wide role on the right of midfield.
"For me, he was our man of the match. He was a driving force in that midfield," Smith said. " ... You ask Nick to do a job, he can do it. [Against RSL] he grasped with both hands that incisive midfield role to get forward. He sees the moment and an opportunity and made the most of it. But I think if we look back at the footage, you see a lot of industry, a lot of determination and energy in his game."
After Preston Burpo had taken over between the posts for four consecutive league starts (and the U.S. Open Cup victory), Matt Pickens was re-installed as the starting goalkeeper.
"I've said all along, we have two first-choice goalkeepers," Smith said. "Preston had been fantastic. He'd kept us in games. I just felt, as with all positions around the field, there's competition, and it was the right moment to give Matt his opportunity again. As expected, Preston was extremely disappointed, and rightly so."
The result was the Rapids first shutout of the season in league play, though they had held the LA Galaxy scoreless over 120 minutes in the Open Cup play-in. The Rapids have used three different back fours on the season, though the same group has started the last three games.
"Clean sheets are big," said central defender Ugo Ihemelu. "It's going to show our minds are in the right place. We have a solid defense. We have a lot of guys that can step in and play. I think defense has to be our strong point this season."
Ironically, the Rapids and Revolution will meet barely a week after the clubs negotiated a trade that saw midfielder Nico Colaluca go to New England in return for central defender Rob Valentino.
"It's always good to have reliable cover, and he has potential for the future," Smith said of Valentino. "For Nico, he wasn't getting a lot of football and wasn't in our plans going forward so this is a lovely opportunity for him to fulfill his potential."
The Rapids opened the season with four of their first five games on the road, going 1-2-1 on their travels in that span. After back-to-back home games, they are now back on the road for three of their next four, including two trips to the East Coast.
"It's been a very tough start in terms of the venues, the teams we have played and the travel," Smith said. "If I could have had a picture of where the team is in terms of points, physical state, form and consistency, I would have taken that at the start of the season."