Match previews

Match Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids

Photo: Philadelphia Union

Who: Philadelphia Union (7th in the East, 13 points, 3-4-4) vs. Colorado Rapids (Last in the West, 7 points, 2-7-1)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, PA
When: Saturday May 20th, 7:00 PM
Watch: TCN, Altitude Sports, MLS Live
Whistle: Jose Carlos Rivero, Craig Lowry, Anthony Vasoli, Sorin Stoica

The suddenly surging Philadelphia Union look to make it four straight wins and five straight shutouts against the strangely struggling Colorado Rapids. Last season, the Rapids lost six games all season en route to a second place finish in the Western Conference. They have eclipsed that total ten games into this season. With both teams coming off their first mid-week games of the season, it is difficult to predict the lineups of each squad. Both Jim Curtin and Rapids boss Pablo Mastroeni will be tasked with fitting together quality lineups that do not suffer too much from fatigue.

Scouting report: Colorado Rapids

A big reason for the Rapids’ struggles so far this season has been an inability to get their preferred XI on the field. Their last two games marked their first two games starting the same lineup, and central defender Axel Sjöberg looks potentially ready to make his return this Saturday. Colorado still has two very dangerous attackers in Dominique Badji and Shkëlzen Gashi, but they simply have not been able to find goals. At the back, Colorado traded two defensive players for two offensive players earlier in the season, and while their defense has suffered, it hasn’t helped the offense. Tactically, Colorado is lacking identity, having switched between a 4-5-1 and a 4-4-2 trying to turn things around. They will likely try to attack up the wings, but their attacks can leave them vulnerable to counters, as their attacking midfielders do not always do a good job of tracking back. The Rapids’ goaltending has been their one strong point, getting quality efforts from both USMNT international Tim Howard and former Union keeper Zac MacMath.

Colorado is 0-5 on the road and look to get their first road win on a short week in Philadelphia.

  • Injury report: Bismark Adjei-Boateng (M, back)
  • Questionable: Axel Sjöberg (D, hamstring)
  • Suspended: None
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

With the Union playing their 3rd game in 8 days, will Jim Curtin rotate the squad?

The Union have found success recently, but fatigue can make even the hottest squad cool off quickly. In the past, the Union boss has been slow to make these types of lineup changes, but this year’s squad offers him more depth than he’s had in the past. While the attacking group of Sapong, Picault, and Pontius have found a rhythm, they have ready replacements in Simpson, Epps, and Herbers. There is nobody on the bench who can match the quality of Bedoya and Medunjanin in the midfield, but the Union could insert Najem or Alberg in the lineup for Ilsinho. At the back, Rosenberry and Marquez are available.

Ultimately, the Union will simply try to do more of the same. They are in a groove as players appear to be figuring out the system, and the Rapids are not a strong enough opponent to shake them. A solid, steady game should lead the home side to take 3 points.

  • Injury report: Josh Yaro (D, shoulder surgery), Maurice Edu (M, left ankle/tibia), Brian Carroll (M, herniated disk)
  • Questionable: Roland Alberg (M, left quad strain)
  • Suspended: None
Key matchup: Jim Curtin vs. Pablo Mastroeni

The Union have been shutting down opposing offenses with the one man midfield wrecking crew that is Alejandro Bedoya. Mastroeni, a tinkerer, will try to figure out how to get the ball down the field and maintain possession. If successful, it will be up to Curtin to make the necessary tactical changes, something he has typically struggled with.

Players to watch: Dominique Badji and Shkëlzen Gashi

The Rapids’ offense is built around these two dangerous attackers. Wherever they are, the Union defense will have to be hypervigilant. Expect them to move around to try to find the ball in dangerous positions.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2 –1  Colorado

It seems unlikely that Philadelphia will string together five shutouts, but they are the better team right now. This is very much a schedule game for both teams, and strange things can happen. Given the Union’s current form, anything less than another tick in the win column will be a disappointment.


  1. I think Curtain will keep the back four in place. Ale, CJ and Pontius need a breather but I think he’ll only switch two of them out for Saturday. Here is my prediction…


    Fafa – Ilsinho – Herbers

    Medunjanin – Bedoya

    Fabinho – Onyewu – Elliot – Gaddis


    • I like this; assume some halftime subs as opposed to the usually timed subs pending scoreline. Would be nice to give Bedoya, Medunjanin and Ilsinho a break.

    • Agree on the back four, they’ve been working well don’t mix it up. Like the lineup changes, think this is pretty close to what we’ll and about as much tinkering as Curtin will do.

    • If Curtin does trots out that lineup I’ll be very happy. I hope he gives Ale some time off the next few weeks so he can be fresh to go into the National Team camp.

  2. scottymac says:

    “Injury report: Josh Yaro (D, shoulder surgery), Maurice Edu (M, left ankle/tibia), Brian Carroll (M, herniated disk)
    Questionable: Roland Alberg (M, left quad strain)
    Suspended: None”
    That’s what drives Curtin’s line up card. Squad rotation is for fancy Euro clubs. Unless someone is on their next yellow card for a suspension (Fabi? Bedoya?), expect the same tactical subs as well. I’m not sure what Rosenberry isn’t showing in training, but Curtin has been pretty consistent over the years touting workers over talent (not unlike his own career). Ray may be out hustling Keegan in training. That’s the only one I’d see changing.

  3. l go with corolado rapids to win away

  4. Benjaminho says:


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