Fox Soccer Night in America comes to Philadelphia on Friday night when the 2010 MLS Cup Champions, Colorado Rapids, face the Union at PPL Park at 7:30 PM Eastern. The Rapids currently are in 5th place in the Western Conference with a record of 7-6-10. In their last match, they drew with New England 2-2 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Philadelphia sits atop the Eastern Conference with 31 points from 19 games. Philadelphia has been idle in league play since July 17 when they defeated New England 3-0 at Gillette Stadium. Last week the Union went 1-1 in friendlies against international competition. They defeated Everton FC 1-0 and were downed by Real Madrid 2-1. These 2 clubs met earlier this year and played to a 1-1 draw in Colorado. The now injured Conor Casey scored from the spot for Colorado around the hour mark, and 2nd half substitute Danny Mwanga scored the equalizer 4 minutes later.
The Rapids will be without the services of their leading scorer Conor Casey due to an achilles injury. Colorado will probably look to Caleb Folan and Sanna Nyassi for the offense as Omar Cummings played 45 minutes in the MLS All Star Game Wednesday and will more than likely be used off the bench. Jeff Larentowicz will anchor the midfield and is a also a scoring threat having tallied 4 goals this season. Drew Moor and Kosuke Kimura have been iron men for the Rapids in the back, both recording over 2000 minutes, but Colorado's defense is anything but solid. The Rapids have allowed 30 goals this season and conceded 4 goals in a match twice this year. Colorado has had some trouble on the road this year. They are 3-4-4 with 12 goals for and 17 against away from Dick's Sporting Goods Park but are on a good run of form overall earning 8 points out of their last 15 on offer.
Philadelphia will be playing their 1st home match in league play since June 25 when they defeated Chivas USA 3-2. The Union are 2-0-3 in their last 5 matches and have still yet to be defeated at PPL Park this year. Philadelphia picked up some valuable experience while playing Real Madrid and Everton last week and will hope to use that to stay in 1st place in the Eastern Conference. In recent matches the Union have started to play attractive soccer. Their passing has been crisp and with intent. They are finally starting to gel and play as a team through the entire pitch. Carlos Ruiz has been leading the Union's attack recently having scored 3 goals in 4 games giving him a total of 6 for the season which has him leading the team in goals. Danny Mwanga, who assisted on Michael Farfan's goal against Real Madrid and has 2 game tying goals against the Rapids, will probably come off the bench and is a scoring threat anytime he is on the pitch. Sebastien LeToux's 7 assists leads the Union, and his tireless work rate is appreciated by all the Union's supporters. Two defenders, Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams, recorded their 1st MLS goals last time out against New England. GK Faryd Mondragon and the Union's defense have kept back to back clean sheets giving them 7 in total. Valdes, who was snubbed for the All Star game, is 1 yellow card away from a suspension.
Colorado leads the series with the Union, 1-0-2. Last year at PPL Park the match ended 1-1. Philadelphia will be trying to even the series up and continue their undefeated streak at home. The Union will have to be on top of their game to get all 3 points out of this match.
As a side note, Philadelphia released their 3rd string GK Thorne Holder. Holder, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, joined the Union in the preseason, but never saw any playing time in the league. He was limited to playing in some reserve matches and the 2nd half of the Everton game. This move opens up an international roster spot. I think it is safe to assume that Philadelphia will be making a play in the international transfer market before it closes on August 14.
(image courtesy of Getty Images)