MATCHDAY: Bring out the orange ball Union shoot for first points in mile high air UPDATED

MATCHDAY: Bring out the orange ball Union shoot for first points in mile high air UPDATED

The Union’s newest striker spent most of last week’s
home opener trying to stay warm on the bench at PPL Park.

When he came on in the 84th minute, the
Union were already down two goals and the home crowd was cold and restless.

So Conor Casey threw his weight around a bit. 

The 31-year-old veteran threw a vicious hipcheck on
notorious pest Aurelien Collin, and finished it off by exchanging words
with his fellow hairless counterpart.

It at least drew some cheers from the Sons of Ben,
who were itching for something to cheer about. 

[UPDATE: The game has been postponed as we mentioned it may. Sunday at 3:00 pm is the new game time.]

Today at 6 p.m. (The Comcast Network) – or tomorrow
at 3 p.m. if MLS decides the 18 inches of snow in today’s Denver forecast
are too much – Casey returns to Colorado, where he made his name as
a strong-willed striker who knew how to find the net.

That’s what they Union were hoping to get when they
picked Casey in the December re-entry draft. 

So why did it take 84 minutes to see him last week?

I won’t pretend to have watched many Rapids games
in recent years. But even before last week’s opener, I was hoping
to see Casey from the opening whistle. After all, the Union’s offseason
message was basically, “See, we got real strikers now!” 

Casey has not played a full-ish season since 2010,
when he scored 13 goals in 27 games (26 starts). But he’s full recovered
now from an Achilles injury that limited him in 2011 and 2012, and judging
by last week’s late cameo, he might be just what this team needs from
the opening whistle.

The major problem last week was on defense, but the
Union also missed a few big chances at the other end. And while Sebastien
Le Toux played OK as a lone striker, one of his major flaws is his inability
to hold up the ball and break an opponent’s momentum. 

In case you didn’t notice, Sporting Kansas City
took the momentum late in the first half and never gave it back.

Casey may not score 15 or 20 goals this season, but
his presence on the field might be just what this team needs. 

Today’s Game:

Colorado Rapids (0-1-0, 0 points) vs. Philadelphia
Union (0-1-0, 0 points) 

6 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City,
Co. – TV: The Comcast Network

(The league was set to make a decision regarding the
snow on Saturday morning. If the game is postponed, the teams will play
Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern – I’m assuming still on Comcast Network).

Today’s Opponent, in Haiku Form: 

Atiba up front

Could give the U some trouble

Mastroeni lives

Real Facts About Today’s Opponent: 

Colorado has long been one of the tougher places in
the league to go and get points, but the Rapids are definitely a team
in transition.

One of the few recognizable names – new acquisition 
Edson Buddle – is not expected to be ready today as he completes his
recovery from knee surgery. The team waved goodbye to Omar Cummings
(Houston) and Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago) and will likely spend a few
weeks trying to find the right combination for the starting lineup. 

Sports Illustrated’s Avi Creditor placed the Rapids
15th out of 19 in his preseason
power rankings
(the Union were 14th). On
the upside for Colorado, top-choice goalkeeper Matt Pickens will start
after missing the opener due to injury. Backup
Steward Ceus and his major league gaffe
led to the
only goal in last week’s 1-0 loss at FC Dallas.

A Real Fact About Today’s Opposing City (via Denver.org): 

More beer is brewed in Denver than any other American
city.

The Player Most Likely to Doop: 

If they game goes on in the snow, a 0-0 draw might
be the most likely outcome. If a goal is scored, I could go with Le
Toux as the easy choice. But after John Hackworth hinted this week at
a changed starting lineup, I’ll go out on a limb and reluctantly say
Jack McInerney.

Lineup I Would Love to See: 

Until Hackworth shows some semi-consistency in his
lineups, I’ll stop trying to read his mind and just give you the lineup
I’d choose.

The formation below is a little unorthodox and unlikely,
but mostly I’d love to see Hackworth find a way to get these guys
on the field. Daniel was one of the best players last week and earned
himself another start. 

Macmath

Williams – Soumare – Parke – Gaddis (reluctantly) 

Okugo – Carroll

      
Daniel 

Le Toux – Casey –
M.Farfan

Prediction Sure to Be Way Off: 

Whether it’s today or tomorrow, I’d love to predict
a Union win. If they have aspirations of improvement in 2013, they need
to get results on the road against some of the league’s weaker teams.

Sadly, I don’t see it. 

Colorado 2, Union 1.

Ken Griffey Jr. inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Ken Griffey Jr. inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Ken Griffey Jr. has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Griffey, the first No. 1 draft pick to be selected for enshrinement, played 22 big-league seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox and was selected on a record 99.32 percent of ballots cast, an affirmation of sorts for his clean performance during baseball's so-called Steroids Era.

A 13-time All-Star selection and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, Griffey hit 630 home runs, sixth all-time, and drove in 1,836 runs.

Griffey also was the American League MVP in 1997, drove in at least 100 runs in eight seasons, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards.

In the 1995 ALDS, he became just the second player in major league history to hit five home runs in a postseason series.

Report: Eagles to re-sign QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Report: Eagles to re-sign QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

The Eagles are reportedly bringing back a familiar face at quarterback, and no, it's not Tim Tebow. 

The team will re-sign quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan

With the addition, the current roster will be capped out at 90 after the reported signings of former Villanova LB Don Cherry and Alabama S Nick Perry go through (see story).  

The Eagles first signed Bethel-Thompson in February to pair with Mark Sanchez at the lone quarterback on the roster. A lot has changed since then, with the team re-signing Sam Bradford and drafting Carson Wentz. Bethel-Thompson was then cut by the Eagles in May. 

Bethel-Thompson has been in the NFL since 2011, after going undrafted out of Sacramento State. The 6-foot-4, 230 pounder has spent time with the Dolphins, the Vikings twice, Patriots and the 49ers three times. He has never played in a game. 

It'll be an uphill battle for the 27-year-old to make the roster with the quarterback position locked up with Bradford, Chase Daniel and Wentz. 

Today's Lineup: Rupp and Franco out, Howard, Ruiz in

Today's Lineup: Rupp and Franco out, Howard, Ruiz in

Going for the series win today, Pete Mackanin has shaken up the lineup.

Maikel Franco is still out. After taking a pitch off the wrist on Friday, Franco was listed as day to day with a sore wrist (see story). Andres Blanco will again hit and play third.

Both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz crack the lineup today. Ruiz has caught Vince Velasquez just once this season, a five inning shutout with 10 strikeouts vs. the Marlins on May 17. 

Ruiz replaced Cameron Rupp in the third inning of Saturday's game as a precaution after Rupp took a pitch off the helmet. (see story)

After being on fire for much of the past month, Peter Bourjos has posted consecutive 0 for 5 nights in the leadoff spot. He will drop down to ninth today, allowing another hot hitter, Cesar Hernandez to hit leadoff.

Odubel Herrara will remain in the two-spot, where he has looked resurgent in this series, going 6 for 9 with four runs scored. 

Much like Bourjos, Cody Asche has not yet recorded a hit in this series and will be lowered to the seven-hole, while Freddy Galvis will hit sixth.

Velasquez takes the mound for the Phillies today. In his four starts since returning from a biceps injury in early June, Velasquez has been arguably the team's best pitcher. In those starts, the flamethrower has been going deeper into ball games than earlier this season, averaging six innings per start, while allowing just five runs during that span. 

Here is today's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Odubel Herrara CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz C
6. Freddy Galvis SS
7. Coday Asche LF
8. Peter Bourjos RF
9. Vince Velasquez P