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.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.