FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England head coach Steve Nicol believes his side must demonstrate its intent to compete from the opening whistle against Colorado on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch FREE on MatchDay Live).
If the Revs fail to keep up with the Rapids' combative and earnest approach to the contest, Nicol thinks it could be a long night for the home side.
“The one thing you know Colorado is going to do is that they're going to be up in your face,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the squad went through its paces on Friday morning. “We better be ready for that.”
Colorado's rugged approach has created problems for the Revolution in the past. New England have not won a game in this series since notching a 1-0 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 29, 2007. In the subsequent six matches, the Rapids have collected three wins and three draws.
New England hope to alter the troubling trend by significantly improving upon their performance in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Chivas USA. In order to rise to the occasion, Revs defender Chris Tierney believes his squad must stand toe-to-toe with the Rapids and then transition to playing effectively in possession.
“First things first, they're a really strong side that really battles hard,” Tierney said. “We need to first be tough to stand up to them and win our challenges and battles. Hopefully, we can take over the game, get the ball down a little bit and score a couple of goals.”
Marko Perovic's continued absence will make the task a bit harder for the Revs on both counts. Perović appeared intermittently on the practice field this week, but Nicol said he would not feature against the Rapids as he continues to work his way back from a left knee sprain.
Didier Domi will join Perović on the sidelines after suffering a left quadriceps strain against the Goats. With Domi omitted from the squad, Tierney looks set to step into the left back berth in a straight swap.
Although he completely ruled out Domi and Perović for tomorrow night's match, Nicol did offer a glimmer of hope for Franco Coria after he trained fully on Friday. Though Coria grappled with a left knee sprain this week, Nicol said he would wait until Saturday to determine whether the Argentine center back would take his place alongside A.J. Soares or whether Ryan Cochrane would start instead.
The chosen starting XI will have to match Colorado's intensity and use the visitors' hectic travel itinerary – the Rapids defeated Houston 2-1 on Wednesday before flying to the Boston area on Thursday – and a lengthy injury list – Conor Casey (hamstring) and Omar Cummings (ankle) are both expected to miss out – to its advantage to secure the necessary result.
“For us, we should be aware that they played on Wednesday and that they've been doing a lot of traveling,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said. “If we can possess the ball and make them chase it throughout the game, then, towards the end of the game, they're going to be a little bit fatigued. We have to be patient, we have to make proper decisions and we have to not give the ball away cheaply because they're also very good at keeping the ball.”