Match previews / Union

Preview: Philadelphia Union at Colorado Rapids

Game time: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.

TV: Live Well HD (abc 6.2)

Philadelphia Union plays what may be its most important game of the year tonight as they visit Colorado Rapids for a prime time game.

The Union  (7-12-6) need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Rapids (10-7-8) sit in the 8th spot right now, and a Colorado win would likely eliminate any long shot the Union still have of reaching the postseason.

Philadelphia is playing their best soccer of the year. They dominated Chivas USA in a 3-0 win on Saturday and have taken 10 points from their last five regular season games. Goalkeeper Brad Knighton has two shutouts in over that stretch. New right back Sheanon Williams has helped stabilize the back line with dangerous attacking runs and quick recovery speed, while Michael Orozco Fiscal has seized the opportunity to start at center back again and doesn’t seem inclined to give up the role.

Colorado could have just about knocked the Union from the playoff race if not for a stoppage time goal by Real Salt Lake’s Nat Borchers to save a 1-1 draw against the Rapids on Saturday. Striker Conor Casey has been playing very well but is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, and Pablo Mastroeni looks to be in his best club form in years, paired with West Chester native Jeff Larentowicz in center midfield.

Each team comes in with an injured starting striker. For the Union, it’s Danny Mwanga, who said Monday he wouldn’t be making the trip due to a shoulder injury. For Colorado, it’s Omar Cummings,  who has 10 goals in 24 games this year and has been one of the team’s best players all season. Cummings is listed as questionable, and if he doesn’t play, look for Macoumba Kandji, recently acquired from the Red Bulls, to start in his place again.

Regardless, we’re getting two teams in good form. Each needs a win. The stakes are high. It looks like we get to see what the Union are made of.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Brad Knighton

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Danny Califf, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Justin Mapp, Andrew Jacobson, Stefani Miglioranzi, Fred

Forwards: Alejandro Moreno, Sebastien Le Toux

Colorado

Goalkeeper: Matt Pickens

Defenders: Anthony Wallace, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Kosuke Kimura

Midfielders: Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Brian Mullan

Forwards: Omar Cummings, Macoumba Kandji

Injuries

Colorado: OUT: MF Ciaran O’Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: DF Julien Baudet (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (groin strain).
Philadelphia: QUESTIONABLE: MF Eduardo Coudet (R calf strain); PROBABLE: GK Chris Seitz (R ankle strain); DF Toni Stahl (R ankle strain); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (L shin contusion); FW Danny Mwanga (L shoulder sprain).

Prediction

1-1 draw. Both teams really need a win here, but expecting the Union to go on the road in high-altitude Colorado and beat a good team trying to clinch may be a bit much.

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