Mar 3, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) reacts after scoring goal against the New England Revolution during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Brad Friedel era in New England is off to a rocky start. The Revolution lost their season opener 2-0 at Philadelphia, and also lost two starters for this week’s home opener.
Central defenders Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna will not play when the Revs host the Colorado Rapids at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The former received a red card in the 23rd minute against the Union, while the referee handed the latter a second yellow card for an ejection in minute 86.
What will first-year coach Friedel do?
“That’s up to us. We have Jalil [Anibaba] and we have Nico [Samayoa],” Friedel said. “We also have Andrew Farrell who can play as a centerback. We also have Brandon Bye who can play as a centerback, if need be. So, that’ll be something that we’ll discuss internally, but we have plenty of players that can cover.”
Anibaba signed with New England in February, brought in to serve a leadership role as an eight-year MLS veteran. He said the whole team worked hard through preseason and he believes everyone is ready to step into a starting position at any moment.
“Whoever’s number is going to be called, the players will be ready,” Anibaba said during training Wednesday. “We’ll be ready. It’s just a matter of taking each week at a time and that’s what we’re doing.”
Anibaba is excited for the possibility of making his debut in Gillette Stadium, and he said the keys to success will be organization and communication.
“Since day one, I’ve felt comfortable here, I’ve felt welcomed here,” Anibaba said. “It will be nice to step out in front of our home fans. Obviously, that’s something we’ve been looking forward to and we’ve been working hard to make sure we bring home three points.”
Saturday’s competition will be Colorado’s first MLS match of 2018. Friedel said his team has studied both of the Rapids’ CONCACAF Champions League performances against Toronto FC last month — a 2-0 loss and a 0-0 draw — and they looked like “two different teams, really.”
“The second leg, I thought they played very, very well in Toronto,” Friedel said. “So, they have a different system than ours, but they worked very, very hard in that game. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game to be able to beat them.”