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On the Road Again: Colorado vs. New York City -- Preview & how to watch

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The Bronx Blues are going Rocky Mountain High. Here's what you need to know to get set for this afternoon's kickoff in Commerce City.

At least until today's game happens, this is everything that I know about Colorado:

One mountain town will be far less quiet today, as Jason Kreis's team rides into town a wave of momentum. The Boroughs are abuzz on the heels of New York City's bombastic home debut last Sunday at Yankee Stadium, and the fans want more as much as Eric Cartman wants Cheesy Poofs.

Today presents a new challenge for the new team. Much has been made of the 5,200-foot altitude at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, but for our money, the team's first cross-country flight begs a greater narrative: will the visitors be able to keep it rolling as they play away from the east coast for the first time?

At the very least, David Villa and the famously nap-prone Sebastian Velasquez enjoyed the initial trek:

Today's fixture is the only time these two teams will meet in the regular season, so be sure to check out Peter Axtman's feature scouting the host Rapids.

Although a founding member of MLS and a Cup-winner in 2010, not everything is set in stone for these Rocky Mountain Boys-- coach Pablo Mastroeni desires to play the kind of attractive, possession-oriented soccer for which Jason Kreis has long been associated, but the early results have been rickety on that front.

As we learned in last week's home opener, New York City aren't always stout across their back line. Given that New England had plenty of chances on goal on Sunday, can Colorado tap into a rush of form and take advantage of a defense still getting its legs? Josh Saunders has done everything except teleport in his tenure as NYC's goalkeeper, but, to paraphrase Sam Elliott, sometimes you eat the crossbar, and sometimes the crossbar eats you.

As for Mastroeni, he has yet to deliver the goods as a gaffer in Major League Soccer. A U.S. National Team veteran with 225 appearances for the Rapids as a player, he presided over a spectacular late-season collapse in 2014, as Colorado fell from a sure-shot Western Conference playoff spot into mortifying obscurity. The Rapids couldn't tally a single win over their final fourteen games (2 draws, 12 losses).

With the signing of third-ever designated player Kevin Doyle to bolster the attack, the Rapids clearly aren't content to stand flat-footed. Doyle, a longtime Republic of Ireland striker coming off a five-year stint in England with Wolverhampton Wanderers, stands to make an instant impact in MLS if he is made available for selection today.

Will New York City throw out a new look in its own right? The collective clamoring for live-wire attacker Khiry Shelton, whose jauntiness on and off the ball catches the eye without fail, echoes louder across the Five Boroughs every week. Patrick Mullins, who put the nail in the coffin of his former team last week in the 84th minute, may have worked his way into a starting role in his own right.

Who will be the first to open their account in Commerce City?

HOW TO WATCH

Colorado Rapids vs. New York City FC
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
March 21, 2015
4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (YES / MLS Live / WFAN Radio)

To find the YES Network on your dial in the New York area, CLICK HERE.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Colorado:

New York City:

We fully expect to see Khiry "K19" Shelton at some point in this game, with probable appearances by Patrick Mullins and defender Shay Facey if fatigue and yellow cards rear their rascally heads.

RUNNIN' THE NUMBERS

  • New York City's Mehdi Ballouchy appeared 77 times for Colorado between 2007 and 2010. He scored seven goals and notched eighteen assists.
  • Fellow sky-blue Chris Wingert made ten starts for the Rapids, including the playoffs, between 2006 and 2007.
  • George John, who continues to work his way back from injury for Jason Kreis's team, scored the infamous own-goal that gave the Rapids a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in the 2010 MLS Cup Final.
  • At 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-5 respectively, Rapids defenders Axel Sjoberg and Bobby Burling are the tallest combined defensive tandem in MLS history. (Source: MLSSoccer.com)

MATCH THREAD RULES

Let's do it again! Overjoyed that you've decided to shack up with us today. Remember to tip your wait staff, mind the gap, and check out the rest of the magisteeeeerial news, commentary, and multimedia adventures up and down Hudson River Blue. While you're here, though, we have a few rules and regulations.

  • Absolutely no links to illegal streams. They're bad, and Rafael will be thrown in a black-bag prison as a consequence. Sam will be deported back to Florida. Seriously, though, they are illegal.
  • We have rules against "relentless negativity." Nobody likes a Negative Nancy or Doubtful David, even if the team gets off to a gruesome start. Don't knee-jerk and post outlandish or hurtful things just because you're frustrated.
  • Along those lines, outright abuse of players or match officials is verboten. It's fine to say "wow, that's a bad call, match official," but it's NOT okay to direct copious amounts of abuse in the direction of said official over a call you did not like.
  • Treat other people in the match thread the way you would want someone else to treat your grandmother. Be nice. Observe Wheaton's Law. This is a community of fans, not an un-moderated message board.

Finally, while we don't have a rule against profanity, any language that is sexist, racist, or homophobic in nature will be swiftly deleted and you may lose posting privileges. This is an open, supportive community.

Most importantly: have fun. Let's get a win today and put that daft, hoity-toity Western Conference on notice, and turn that stadium of theirs into Casa Bonita!