Desert Diamond Cup updated image

New signing Juan Ramirez is set to make his debut as the Colorado Rapids continue their Desert Diamond Cup campaign by taking on New England Revolution on Saturday, kickoff 5.30 p.m. MT.


The 21-year-old Argentine, who was confirmed as the second Designated Player in franchise history on Friday, should get some game time on the left side of Pablo Mastroeni’s team in Tucson.


His compatriot Lucas Pittinari was arguably the standout star of Rapids’ opening game in the competition. He was involved in both goals as they eased into a 2-0 lead at the interval against Sporting Kansas City. Typically, wholesale changes led to a very different second half but the overall feeling was positive.


Now there is a need to kick on against last season’s MLS Cup runners up, and the team against whom the Rapids' 14-game winless streak began in 2014.


THE OPPOSITION

Snow caused the Revolution to delay their arrival to Arizona. The disruption may not have helped preparations and they lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake in their opening fixture of the tournament on Wednesday. That result makes their pre-season record 1-2-0; a somewhat surprising statistic given they only narrowly lost to LA Galaxy in extra-time a few months ago.


Coach Jay Heaps re-signed Juan Agudelo in the off-season after his unfulfilled spell in England. He got just over 30 minutes against RSL.


The Revs are without star midfielder Jermaine Jones, after the US international underwent surgery earlier this month to repair a sports hernia. Lee Nguyen may feature, having arrived late to camp following recent international duty. Nguyen was involved in the USMNT's training camp.


WHAT PABLO SAYS 

“We are at a good point in preseason. Now it is about fitness, game-management and coping with the different challenges going on when we play.


“It is important that everyone understands what we are asking for from a tactical perspective. From the last game we are going with pretty much the same group but we’ll be seeing how the changes we make affect them.


“I have had a lot of chats with Jay Heaps in the last couple of years, having played with him in Miami and roomed with him too. But there is no secret the building process takes time. There is no way to do it one or two years.


“Having gone through a tough stretch last year, they found a way to get out of it. That is down to a combination of sticking together and having players in positions over a number of years and not slapsticking people in.


“So I think we are on course and we are building something special here.”