The defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids face the Union tonight at PPL Park as part of Fox Soccer Night in America (7:30PM/Fox Soccer). The Rapids sit in fifth place in the West, with 31 points from 23 games. The Union, with 31 points, are tied with Columbus at the top of the Eastern Conference table (the Union have two games in hand on Columbus).
It's been 12 days since the Union last played a league match -- a 3-0 dismantling of New England. Sure, the friendlies against Everton and Real Madrid were entertaining, but with the MLS All-Star Game in the rearview mirror it's back to the business of winning MLS games.
The Rapids, who have only dropped one of their last six games, most recently tied New England 2-2 and took apart New York 4-1. Colorado has picked up four points in their last two games despite losing leading scorer Conor Casey for the season with a ruptured achilles. Casey suffered the injury July 16th on the turf in Seattle.
Sanna Nyassi, who is not much of a goal scorer and was ikely was going through an out of body experience at the time, picked up the goal scoring slack with a hat trick in the win over the Red Bulls. Caleb Folan, Omar Cummings, and local product Jeff Larentowicz will also pose danger for the Union back line.
One of the players who will be tasked with shutting down the Rapids offense is Gabriel Farfan. Farfan stepped into the left back void created when Jordan Harvey was shipped to Vancouver.
While I was extremely critical of the move I've come to really appreciate the subtlety of G. Farfan's game. It's plain to see that he possesses a high soccer IQ. He anticipates plays and reads the game incredibly well. He also provides more technical ability to build an attack out of the back.
I would never knock Harvey's effort or willingness to run all day. However, Gabriel Farfan is more suited to the sort of tight passing, work your way out of trouble, combination play Peter Nowak seems to want from his outside backs.
Now, knowing how these things work out watch Farfan have a miserable game.
Here's the lineup I hope we see tonight: Mondragon, Williams, Valdes, Califf, G. Farfan, Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, Daniel (only because he's a bit more responsible defensively than Torres), Le Toux, and Ruiz.
Final Score Prediction: Union stay unbeaten at home with a 2-1 win.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely to See Red: I am coming awfully close to retiring this award. They've been way too disciplined. At this point I am just randomly picking names. I'll say Ruiz sees red after mixing it up with Pablo Mastroeni.