MLS GAME PREVIEW

Colorado versus New England preview

May 15, 2009

The New England Revolution are getting healthier, something they're hoping will help them quickly end a four-game winless streak and regain the swagger that has carried them to the playoffs each of the last seven seasons.

They'll be at home Saturday, but will have to go through a rested Colorado Rapids club that is coming off a two-week layoff.

Injuries helped stop New England from reaching a fourth straight MLS Cup final last year, and the club's uneven start has also come with a depleted roster. Top striker Taylor Twellman remains out with a neck problem, accompanied on the injured list by fellow starters Chris Albright and Mauricio Castro.

But the Revs (2-2-3) got a boost from the return of Steve Ralston in the second half last Saturday against Chicago, as the veteran midfielder came off the bench to help his club earn a 1-1 road tie. Ralston had been dealing with an adductor strain, while defender Kevin Alston shook off a hamstring injury and returned to the starting lineup.

"It's huge progress to get Kevin back in here and get Rallie back in here," New England's Shalrie Joseph said. "This team is still building. We have a long way to go. We want to get better every week."

A position shift for Joseph has helped, as he scored the Revs' lone goal in Chicago in his first full game after being shifted to forward from the midfield.

New England had not scored in its previous two contests while allowing eight goals in a pair of lopsided defeats. The Revs have scored an MLS-low six goals and still haven't won since beating FC Dallas 2-1 on April 4, but coach Steve Nicol is preaching patience.

"We lose two games and a lot of people are panicking. We said we just have to make better decisions and make better passes, keep the ball. We were that much better (Saturday)," Nicol said. "We shouldn't be kidding ourselves, we still have a ways to go to be where we want to be, but it just shows you when you get a few of those back, things change."

Contrary to New England, the Rapids (3-2-2) are almost completely healthy, and they haven't played since beating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at home on May 2. This will be Colorado's first road trip since it lost 1-0 to Houston on April 19.

Rapids coach Gary Smith will have a decision to make in goal, where Preston Burpo and Matt Pickens have both played well. Burpo had made four straight starts with a 1.25 goals-against average before Pickens blanked Salt Lake.

"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."

The Rapids' 1-0 win the last time they visited Foxborough on April 12, 2008, snapped a stretch of 13 games between the clubs where the road team had not won. They played to a 1-1 draw in Colorado on Sept. 20.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press