Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids

Photo: Daniel Studio

Who: Philadelphia Union (2nd in the East, 24 points, 7-4-3) vs. Colorado Rapids (12th in the West, 8 points, 2-9-2)
What: 2019 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA
When: Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 pm
Watch: PHL17, Altitude
Whistle: Timothy Ford; Brian Dunn, Mike Kampmein; Logan Brown; Sorin Stoica, Tom Felic

Trying to shake off Saturday’s loss to Portland, the Union are hoping to get three points at home against a formerly struggling Colorado. With a new coach rebuilding the team structure, the Rapids are on a two game winning streak and looking to climb up the table in the west.

Scouting report: Colorado Rapids

Colorado had a rough start to this season, so in came Conor Casey as interim manager. Union fans, of course, will remember the burly striker fondly from his time in Philadelphia. The Rapids have undergone a semi-rebuild mid-season tightening up their defense and are now on a two game winning streak. They may be last in the west, but don’t underestimate them. Both the LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew have lost to the new Colorado, and Casey is hoping he can make it a three-match winning streak.

The Rapids have been successful now because of their stronger back line. Before, a rotating cast of slow, tired defenders didn’t do much, giving up at least three goals in seven of their first 11 matches. Our favorite former Union right back, Keegan Rosenberry, had been severely limited with Colorado under Anthony Hudson, unable to use his strong attacking abilities because he was pinned deep in defense. Now, Rosenberry can move the ball from back to front and occasionally join attacks with Kellyn Acosta and Jack Price.

Casey’s final piece to figure out is his front line. As Colorado’s leading goal scorer, Kei Kamara remains an excellent fast break attacker who can overpower defenders, but Diego Rubio doesn’t always fit with him. Rubio, the smaller and faster attacker that came from Kansas City, isn’t ideal to play under Kamara. So there’s a bit of an exploitable hole in the Rapids’ midfield in their inability to move the ball easily up the field and really transition from defense to offense. Colorado’s go-to fix has been Jonathan Lewis on the left, leaving the second striker position in question.

  • Injury report: Kortne Ford (knee surgery); Questionable: Tim Howard (hamstring), Danny Wilson (hamstring)
  • Suspended: None
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

This is an important match for the Union. Colorado is still rebuilding and have their weaknesses, so getting three points before two tough matches is possible and can keep Philly up near the top of the conference in the busier parts of the season.

Saturday night was rough for the Union. Union manager Jim Curtin will be looking to shake things up, especially since this is a midweek game and two tough matches against Minnesota United and NYRB are up next. Plus, some key players are still injured or on international duty with the U-20 USMNT. This means that Philly might be relying on some of their depth.

The Philly front line always seems to be in question. Without Cory Burke, David Accam and Marco Fabian leading the attacks, the Union have had to make some last minute changes in order to have any type of attack. Kacper Przybylko has been doing well burying goals in the back of the net, except for the match against Portland, and will need to regroup and work his magic against a newly bolstered Colorado tonight. Fafa Picault is likely to be the Union’s second striker, although he’s struggled all season to find his place in the new formation, scoring just one goal in 14 matches. Both will need to understand that the new Rapids defense isn’t as weak as before, and won’t just give up three goals a match. Colorado’s back line won’t just sit back like Portland’s (which the Union struggled with breaching), so Philly’s attack should feel more in their element again.

Philly’s back line will need to stand strong against the uncertainty that is Colorado’s front line. Kamara has scored seven goals for the Rapids, while his supporting striker, Rubio, has only scored one goal and their chemistry is volatile at best. Youth and speed seem to be the Union’s defense’s bread and butter. With Casey pushing his back line up more, the boys and blue will need to meet the challenge head on. Kai Wagner facing off against Keegan Rosenberry is sure to be a fun matchup to watch, both are aggressive in their attacks and should go back and forth all night. The central defenders will have to handle Kamara, who can change the game easily, and Rubio, who may or may not pair well with Kamara tonight.

  • Injury report: Matt Freese (oblique strain); Questionable: Warren Creavalle (hamstring), Marco Fabián (ankle)
  • Suspended: None
  • International Duty: Mark McKenzie, Matt Real
Key matchup

Kai Wagner vs. Keegan Rosenberry. It’ll be the battle of the attacking defenders. Both have similar playing styles and will try to push the other deeper into the defense early on in the match. It will be a fast, physical back and forth that will surely be entertaining to watch.

Player to watch

Keegan Rosenberry. All eyes will be on him anyway as he returns to Philly with his new team for the first time, but we all know that what he can do. The Union would be foolish to underestimate him, especially now that Colorado’s new coach has shifted his team’s style to the exact same style Rosenberry thrives in. He’s been on a key player for the Rapids now and definitely one to watch.

Prediction

Philadelphia 2 – 1 Colorado. The Union want a win at home after Saturday. They also want three points to stay towards the top of the table. All of this wanting, combined with the fact that despite Saturday’s loss, the Union have been playing well and have learned not to underestimate their opponent, which led to Saturday’s loss. As long as they can shake off the loss to Portland and realize the this Colorado team is new and improved, the Union can pull off a win tonight.

4 Comments

  1. should be a good rebound match. hope it lives up to the hype.

  2. The Truth says:

    Can’t drop these points.

  3. pragmatist says:

    Fabian is the key tonight. He needs to play and find a way to crack a defense.

  4. Fabián – dude needs to build credibility. fitness and impact can be built, consistently, starting tonight.

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