New York's Supporters' Shield defense got off to a rough start last weekend as it was hammered in a 4-1 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The Red Bulls were without star forward Thierry Henry and stout defender Jamison Olave, but second-year head coach Mike Petke accepted blame for the defeat despite not having a full roster at his disposal.
"I got it completely wrong," Petke told reporters after the match. "So it comes down to me. My gameplan obviously was wrong. The whole focus was for the first game, the whole preseason and the week leading up. With the result, obviously I got it wrong."
The defeat has left midfielder Lloyd Sam eager to get back to winning ways.
"We will put it behind us," Sam said. "I'm looking forward to next week just to put this one behind us, erase it from our memory. Hopefully it's a quick week and we can play again at home and set it right."
The Red Bulls will come up against a Rapids team that, after enjoying a bye week to the open the new season, is looking to build upon a surprisingly successful 2013 campaign.
Colorado entered 2013 with a lot of question marks, but ended the season with a lot of pleasant surprises as the club saw the emergence of several talented youngsters over the course of the season.
The Rapids struggled early on and didn't notch their first win until a 1-0 result over Real Salt Lake on April 6, but they continued to kick on under the guidance of then-head coach Oscar Pareja and eventually went on an impressive nine-match unbeaten streak from June 29-Aug. 17.
With Pareja leaving the Rapids to join FC Dallas, Colorado will have to rely on some of its young guns to produce the same level of success this term.
Leading the team will be last year's Rookie of the Year, Dillon Powers, as well as the runner-up for the award, Deshorn Brown. The duo provided an instant impact in the starting 11, specifically Brown, who finished as the team's leading scorer with 10 goals. There was also emergence of young talent along the back line with the growth of U.S. youth international Shane O'Neill and Chris Klute.
Clint Irwin took over in net for an injured Matt Pickens early in the year and was one of the best goalkeeper in the league with a 1.09 goals-against average, helping the Rapids earn the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 51 points.