Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids | MLS Match Preview

Colorado Rapids travel east to face the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs COLORADO RAPIDS
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
July 12, 2014 (WEEK 18, MLS Game #160)
5 p.m. MT (Altitude)

Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids meet in a key interconference matchup when the clubs face off Saturday evening at PPL Park. Union return home following a 2-1 loss at FC Dallas last week, still two points out of the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Rapids hit the road off a 1-1 draw with Columbus in their annual July 4 home match, now tied for third place in the West.

REFEREE: Sorin Stoica. AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Younes Marrakchi
MLS Career: 24 games; FC/gm: 28.2; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 11; pens: 14

SUSPENDED: PHI: Maurice Edu (through July 13) … COL: Vicente Sanchez (through July 20)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Nick LaBrocca
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Maurice Edu, Fabinho, Raymon Gaddis … COL: Carlos Alvarez
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Union 1 win, 7 goals … Rapids 3 wins, 11 goals … Ties 2
AT PHILADELPHIA (3 meetings): Union 0 wins, 3 goals … Rapids 2 wins, 5 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/10: COL 1, PHI 2 (Smith 68 – Okugo 34; McInerney 79)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Union won the only meeting between the teams a season ago, a 2-1 win March 10 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, their first victory ever against the Rapids. Colorado had won three of the first five meetings between the teams, with two draws.
  • The Rapids have won on each of their last two trips to PPL Park, 2-1 victories in both 2011 and 2012.
  • Coaches record: Jim Curtin vs. COL: first game … Pablo Mastroeni vs. PHI: first game

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union saw their undefeated run put to an end after three games, falling 2-1 to FC Dallas on July 4 at Toyota Stadium. Union are in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points from 18 games.

LAST MATCH

  • FC Dallas took the lead in the 26th minute. From the midfield, Blas Perez floated pass into the area, and rookie Tesho Akindele, who had worked his way between Union defenders, hammered a full volley past onrushing goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • But Union drew even in the 43rd minute. Cristian Maidana put in a cross from the left that made its way through a number of FC Dallas defenders and Amobi Okugo was perfectly positioned to the right of goal to drive home his first of the season.
  • But the home side nosed back in front four minutes after the break when a passing sequence was intercepted in the box by Union left back Fabinho. He tried to clear, but instead played the ball into teammate Sheanon Williams, and the ball rebounded into the Union net.
  • Union interim manager Jim Curtin made no changes to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 3-1 at Gillette Stadium.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu (ejected 89), Fabinho - Michael Lahoud, Amobi Okugo (Fred 81) - Sebastien Le Toux, Cristian Maidana, Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 62) - Conor Casey (Aaron Wheeler 78).

TEAM NEWS

  • Union lost for the first time under interim manager Jim Curtin, the club’s first loss since May 25, a 4-1 defeat at the LA Galaxy.
  • “We created enough on the road to get a result,” Curtin said. “I thought we deserved at least a draw in the game. But this is the way our league is.”
  • Said center back Sheanon Williams: “It’s unfortunate. I thought we had a good game, especially defensively. We gave up two chances and they scored two goals.”
  • Having moved into a central midfield role from his usual center back role for a second consecutive game, Union’s Amobi Okugo scored his first goal in the season.
  • Cristian Maidana collected his seventh assist of the season, his fifth assist over the last four matches, dating back to May 31.
  • “We made some adjustments at halftime,” Curtin said. “We’re settled in for the first four minutes. And then that fluky play happens. And the next thing you know the plan is kind of out the window and we’re adjusting on the fly. It was tough.”
  • Curtin kept an unchanged team from his first league match in charge, and Aaron Wheeler also came on as a late substitute in a forward role.
  • At the end, we're fighting for a goal just trying to get back on terms and put all of your eggs in one basket,” Wheeler said. “You want to get forward, but not risk too much you give up the deciding goal to make the game unreachable. Just come in, pressure as much as you can, fight and battle and hope you get the right bounce to fall your way.”
  • On Tuesday, Union defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 in their U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at PPL Park. Sebastien Le Toux (9) and Conor Casey (47) scored the goals.
  • Here’s the Union team: Zac MacMath, Fabinho, Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Raymon Gaddis, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 82), Cristian Maidana (Fred 88), Conor Casey (Aaron Wheeler 62)
  • The Le Toux goal was his 14th in Open Cup play, becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in the modern era of the competition. “It’s a great achievement, but we have more games to play, so it’s good for the team. I'm more happy that all the guys stayed concentrated and we did a good job defensively. We've been doing that for a while now and it's paid off, especially over the past couple of weeks,” Le Toux said.
  • Union will face FC Dallas in the semifinal on Aug.12 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids extended their undefeated run at home, despite reaching a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew on July 4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 26 points from 17 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids took the lead just before the hour mark. Rapids right back Marvell Wynne delivered a cross for Vicente Sanchez that caromed off Crew defender Eric Gehrig as he challenged for the ball and flew into the goal.
  • But the Crew took found the equalizer 14 minutes from time. A poor backpass from Dillon Powers led to a misplay from rookie midfielder Jared Watts, and handed Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay a straightforward finish from the heart of the area.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made no changes to the team that defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Chris Klute - Dillon Powers (Marlon Hairston 84), Jared Watts, Nick LaBrocca, Kamani Hill (Dillon Serna 68) - Vicente Sanchez, Deshorn Brown (Edson Buddle 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids concluded a stretch of five out of six games overall at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with three wins and two draws in that span. The Rapids now hit the road for back-to-back games.
  • From a coaching perspective, it wasn’t good enough. From a playing perspective, individually [the Rapids players] put their partners in bad spots with bad passes and bad touches,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said.Collectively as a group, it’s a great opportunity to come out of this game with a point and really reflect on what we need to do to now as we go on the road to a couple tough venues and just get better as a team.”
  • Said midfielder Jared Watts: “It was just one of those games. It was a grind, it was a tie, it was a point, and we’ve just got to go from there, improve, and get ready for the game next weekend.”
  • Mastroeni ran out an unchanged lineup for the first time in charge of the club, following 16 matches in MLS this season.
  • “Every day is different, every game poses more challenges. Teams have different formations and different mindsets, attitudes and schemes,” Mastroeni said. “On the day, it’s how do your players feel vs. how do their players feel? Were they prepared the right way? And then it just comes to chance.”
  • Vicente Sánchez made his second consecutive start following a seven-match absence, playing the full 90 minutes, his first full match since April 19.
  • “We have a lot of work to do. I never believe that we’re a great team. I never believe that we’ll get to being a great team. I think that every day that we come and every game that we play we have to prove to ourselves and to those around us that we’re capable of playing at this level,” Mastroeni said.
  • The lone goal came through a cross from Wynne on the right flank as Sánchez challenged for the header in the box.
  • “I don’t think I had a choice whether I wanted to go forward or defend. It seemed like they were pressing pretty hard the entire game, actually. I wish I could’ve had more success going forward in the second half, but when in doubt, if I don’t have the energy to go forward, I have to stay back,” said defender Marvell Wynne.