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Resurgent Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution meet on Fourth of July

Since coaching changes, the New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids are both unbeaten heading into a Fourth of July clash

Mar 10, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Enzo Martinez (90) blocks a shot from New England Revolution midfielder Brandon Bye (15) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

The New England Revolution’s Fourth of July tilt against the Colorado Rapids might as well be named “The New Head Coach Derby.”

Both teams have been resurgent since parting with their respective coaches in May after horrendous starts to the season.

Colorado went winless in its first 11 games and takes a seven-game unbeaten streak into Thursday’s match, while the Revolution are unbeaten in six after setting franchise records for futility two months into the regular season.

“It’s a good example of this league,” said Revolution coach Bruce Arena, who was hired on May 11. “You win three games in this league, and you’re the best team in the league for those two weeks. It hasn’t changed a whole lot, and we’re hopeful we can be consistent in the month of July and position ourselves to be in the playoff hunt.”

New Colorado coach Conor Casey, who played for Arena on the U.S. national team, is probably trying to strike a similar chord to motivate the Rapids.

Colorado dug itself a deep hole to start the season, but is now five points out of the Western Conference’s seventh and final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Revs are three points out of the last playoff spot in the East.

With that backdrop, Thursday’s fixture in Commerce City is pivotal for both teams.

Casey might have more leverage tactics-wise, since his team is used to playing at elevation (5,164 feet) and is on a four-game home winning streak.

“He is a great guy…a calm guy,” said Revolution left back Edgar Castillo, who was traded to New England from Colorado in the offseason. “That’s what you need in the locker room, like we have it here. A lot of things changed here, so we feel much better. That’s how it is. That’s how they get all the results they’ve been having.

“It’s good for Conor and the group. They’ve worked very hard. That’s good for them, but now it’s for us now going there and getting three points.”

The Revolution are 4-14-4 at Colorado since 1996.

Is the altitude a factor for visiting teams?

“It is,” added Castillo. “It is a factor, but I don’t think it’s a big factor. We have to have a very good game, know when we can go forward and not, and get three points.”

New England flew to Denver on Tuesday to get acclimated to the elevation, but is on short rest following Saturday night’s come-from-behind win against the Houston Dynamo.

There will be a few other reunions on Thursday besides Castillo going back to Colorado. Kei Kamara, the Rapids’ leading scorer this season, played for the Revolution from 2016-17. Arena also coached Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder Kellyn Acosta on the USMNT, and defender Kofi Opare with the LA Galaxy from 2013-14.

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