The Colorado Rapids have been waiting all offseason to come back onto the pitch at Dicks Sporting Goods Park and defend their first ever MLS trophy. The Portland Timbers and their fans have been waiting 16 years now to get their shot at facing an MLS team in actual MLS competition. Fortunately for both groups, MLS First Kick starts for the Rapids and Timbers at The Dick tonight at 7 PM Mountain Time.
Colorado will be without a couple of players including the ill Wells Thompson as well as striker Andre Akpan and backup goalkeeper Ian Joyce. The starting lineup will be unaffected by injury or sickness, as coach Gary Smith will probably roll out the exact same Starting XI that the Rapids used in the MLS Cup Final back in November. Jeff Larentowicz is probably the most suspect to get the start because of a car accident he was involved in a couple of days ago but the Rapids have reported him to be fine.
Portland's starting XI might be hit a bit by injury - their first round draft pick Darlington Nagbe had a great preseason but is unfortunately sidelined because of surgery - but their captain, former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Jack Jewsbury will be available along with a lot more decent midfielders and forwards. Their defense and goalkeeping are both suspect, which in the Rapids case might mean that forward tandem Conor Casey and Omar Cummings will be looking to feast on a depleted backline and perhaps a back-up keeper with Troy Perkins out because of injury.
MLS First Kick starts tonight, go Rapids!