A home-heavy schedule through the first half of the MLS season could pay off for the New England Revolution down the road. A continued lack of discipline could hold them back.
The Revs open their slate on Saturday at Gillette Stadium against the Colorado Rapids, who are making their 2018 MLS debut.
New England (0-1-0) opened with a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. First-year Revs coach Brad Friedel is looking forward to playing at home.
"It'll be very nice to get in front of (the home fans) and hopefully we can send them home with three points," he said.
New England sported one of the league's best home records last year (12-2-3) but failed to make the playoffs. The Revolution, 7-0-1 in their last eight games at Foxborough, will play 12 of their next 18 MLS matches at home.
"We really need to take advantage and start strong, continue our ways from last year at home and just get back to winning ways," midfielder Scott Caldwell said.
New England will be without center backs Antonio Milnar Delamea and Claude Dielna after they received red cards in the opener. The Revs collected five red cards during the 2017 season.
Two possibilities to replace the suspended players are Jalil Anibaba, who appeared in eight games with four starts for the Houston Dynamo last year, and Brandon Bye, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 SuperDraft from Western Michigan.
Colorado opens its MLS season after a 2-0 loss on aggregate to reigning MLS champion Toronto FC on Feb. 28 in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16.
The Rapids finished 10th in the Western Conference with a 9-19-6 record and a minus-20 goal differential last year. They also had the league's worst road record at 1-14-2 just one year after reaching the conference championship.
The biggest change is the addition of head coach Anthony Hudson, who guided New Zealand's national team for three years.
"From the start, I was impressed by the club's culture, front office and vision for the future," Hudson said in November. "I believe we share a philosophy, and now it's just a matter of going out and getting the results that both this club and community deserve."
One player who will not suit up for the Rapids is defender Kortne Ford (sprained left MCL), who is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks. Defender Axel Sjoberg is suspended for the opener.
"The group is ready," midfielder Marlon Hairston told the league's official website. "We're ready to put last year behind us."
Anibaba is not expecting Colorado to be the same team that struggled in 2017.
"They're going to come in here, they're going to work hard, they're going to fight, they're going to be competitive, as we expect," he said.