The Union, fresh off of their six goal explosion last week against Toronto, are in Colorado tonight to face the defending MLS Cup Champion Rapids (9PM/The Comcast Network).
Both teams will be without offensive contributors. The Rapids will be without Omar Cummings, who has not played since April due to an ankle injury, was just sent home from the Jamaican Gold Cup training camp because of the injury. The Union will be without Carlos Ruiz, who will play for Guatemala.
Ruiz did not play last week, and the Union went on to score six goals. Coincidence? Actually, I think so. You'd be hard-pressed to find a worse ninety minutes of defensive soccer than the "effort" given by Toronto. Full marks to the Union for capitalizing on the defensive breakdowns, but I don't think it's fair to say that Ruiz' absence led to the sudden offensive output. Now, if they go into Denver and hang three or four on Colorado I may buy into that Ruiz-less theory.
Colorado (4-3-6) has played five consecutive draws. I know, looking at the MLS standings and seeing T-T-T-T-T in the Last 5 columns was a bit odd. They sit in fourth place in the West, with 18 points from 13 games. Without Cummings the offensive burden will fall on the shoulders of Jamie Smith, local product Jeff Larentowicz (Chestnut Hill Academy), Caleb Forlan, and Conor Casey.
Defensively, the Rapids will be without the services of Marvell Wynne, who is out with a hamstring strain. Tyrone Marshall was released from Jamaican national team duty, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be available tonight.
As for the Union, well, what do you do to top a six goal performance? How about beating the defending champs in their building? In altitude? That'd be a heck of an encore. As great as it was to see the Union break out offensively they did not play well in their own third.
They have not yet shown the ability to open things up offensively while remaining responsible defensively. It'd be nice to see them play a complete game and create offense without sacrificing defensive discipline. The gaps in the midfield were all too frequent and all too large. They need to clean that up.
Here’s the lineup I hope we see today: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, Daniel, Le Toux, Ruiz.
Final Score Prediction: As well as they played last week I just don't see them picking up consecutive road wins. I'll go 1-0 Rapids.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Have I gone with Kyle Nakazawa yet? Ok, I'll got with Nakazawa.
Enrico says: Did you know the Rapids actually have four mascots???
In 2007, the Colorado Rapids began the introduction of four new mascots
for the club! Each new mascot is an animal naturally found in the Rocky
Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which is adjacent to the
Rapids' home at the Dick's Sporting Goods Park complex!