Niki Jackson will go down in the Rapids' history books.
A rookie, leveling the match on the road…and doing so just minutes into his MLS debut. That alone would've been enough to make the 66th minute goal by Jackson one to remember. It just so happened that it was a landmark goal for the club, marking the 900th tally in MLS play. And it was a goal worthy of being watched years down the line - a perfectly weighted floating ball from Johan Blomberg saw Jackson make a fearless run on goal and guide the ball past New England 'keeper Matt Turner. It's how you draw it up in the backyard as a kid. It's how you dream it up hundreds of times in your head. It's a great story that unfortunately didn't have the best of endings.
No doubt, Jackson and his teammates will be disappointed with the end result. But the fourth-round pick made the most of the opportunity he was given. He also and proved in that moment that his pace and a goal-scoring instinct are the real deal at the MLS level. If the 22-year old can keep producing in training his new boss won't be able to keep him on the bench for long.
The visitors were unlucky to leave New England empty handed.
This is a pretty obvious one seeing that New England only won the match on the final kick and I don't need to remind fans about Turner's save on Jack Price's penalty in the 54th minute. Two second-half mistakes in any match is a tall task to overcome. The margin for error on the road in MLS is razor thin and it's difficult to escape enemy territory with points in hand. But the Rapids had set themselves up to do just that by showing grit and resilience to level the match.
They were organized and stout defensively for the majority of the afternoon and the two goals for the home side came on clear and avoidable mistakes - first when Diego Fagundez finished off a counter attack early in second half to give New England the lead. And then, most importantly, after failing to force New England to win the match in the final moments with a world-class pass or finish. Instead, the visitors gifted the Revs a golden opportunity with a foul just outside the eighteen-yard box. Both mistakes could have been avoided and will be focal points on the training pitch and in the film room in the coming weeks.
Johan Blomberg and Edgar Castillo lead the way among the eight MLS debutants.
Eight players made their MLS debut against New England. Let that sink in for a moment. That's a lot of new faces in a league that's often difficult for newcomers. Not to mention they're all acclimating to a new system and playing style.
But Castillo locked down his side of the pitch all afternoon. He was dangerous getting forward and broke up plenty of promising buildups by New England. Blomberg made more of an impact in the second half than he did in the first, but only needed one moment to show off his ability on Niki Jackson's goal. And at the highest level, you often only get one or two moments to make a difference. Both players are veterans of top leagues and quality sides and will continue to be difference makers this season.
Fans shouting about the lack of chances in the attack should remember that none of Stefan Aigner (calf injury), Joe Mason (unused sub after joining the side Wednesday) or Shkëlzen Gashi (calf injury) featured in the match. In this system, chances will come, especially at home. The altitude will wear visiting teams down and goals will follow. This was a tough result, there no doubt about it, especially with a crucial road point fully within grasp. But winning at home is where MLS teams ultimately pile up the points. With the next two matches on home soil, expect a hungry and aggressive side come March 24th against Sporting KC.