Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids
2017 MLS Regular Season
Talen Energy Stadium - Chester, Pa.
Saturday, May 20 - 7 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
The contrast couldn't be more stark when you look at the Philadelphia Union's form this season. In their first eight games they collected four points (none from wins), scored eight goals and conceded 14 times. In their last three games, they've collected a full nine points, scored nine goals and conceded zero. If not for Toronto FC and their current six-game win streak, there would be a case to be made for the Union – seemingly moribund at the end of April – to be the league's hottest team.
They'll have a prime opportunity to continue that hot streak when the struggling Colorado Rapids come to town on Saturday evening, and although there's plenty of work to be done (they're still three points out of a playoff place), spirits are high in Philadelphia. And in addition to their winning ways, Philadelphia have something of a new quest on their plates – maintain a shutout streak that has now stretched to four games.
“This shutout streak, we’ve challenged them,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said after Wednesday's 2-0 victory against Houston. “It’s not like a no-hitter where we’re not talking about it. We’re talking about it a lot, and the guys are really taking pride in it.”
The Union couldn't have asked for a much better opponent to keep the streak going against, either. The Rapids have scored an MLS-low eight goals on the season, even after a three-goal outburst against San Jose on Saturday. Still, the Union will have to be wary of Shkelzen Gashi, who announced his return to form with two goals in that win over San Jose after going his previous five appearances with just two shots on target.
“He’s a talented player,” Curtin said. “I think we’ve all seen his ability to go 1-v-1 at defenders. It’s almost a little strange that now a lot of the things we were trying to get him to do as a winger – to get in behind and really stretch the defense – he’s doing a good job at them as the No. 10.”
The question for the Curtin and the Union on Saturday will be whether Ilsinho – who has gone the full 90 just twice in 33 MLS appearances (regular season and playoffs) can hold up for a third start in eight days. Curtin has kept an eye on his minutes, giving him just over an hour on the field in each of the Union's previous two games, giving the Brazilian a good chance of going again against Colorado.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: Derrick Jones (US U-20s), Auston Trusty (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Josh Yaro (shoulder surgery), M Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery), Brian Carroll (lumbar disc herniation); QUESTIONABLE – M Roland Alberg (left quad strain), M Alejandro Bedoya (right ankle sprain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Andre Blake – Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Oguchi Onyewu, Fabinho – Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin – Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault – CJ Sapong
Notes: Haris Medunjanin had two goals and an assist last weekend against D.C. United. It was just the second time in Union MLS history that a player had a goal and multiple assists in the same regular season game (Sebastien Le Toux had a goal and three assists on August 24, 2014; 244 overall regular season Union games).
The Rapids were feeling good following a streak-busting 3-0 win over San Jose last Saturday before being promptly brought down to Earth in a humbling defeat by the same scoreline at the hands of the Chicago Fire on Wednesday. The one bit of good news to come out of Wednesday's game was the return of 2016 Defender of the Year finalist Axel Sjoberg to the 18 following a hamstring injury that has kept him out of action since the second week of the season. If he's healthy enough to go on Saturday, expect him to slot in next to Jared Watts in the center of defense.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – M Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back injury); QUESTIONABLE: D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2): Tim Howard – Marlon Hairston, Axel Sjoberg, Jared Watts, Eric Miller – Shkelzen Gashi, Dillon Powers, Micheal Azira, Mohammed Saeid – Alan Gordon, Dominique Badji
Notes: Colorado have only scored one goal in their last seven regular season road games. They've had two previous instances of scoring one goal in six consecutive away games in franchise regular season history, but this is the first time that drought has extended to seven games. … Alan Gordon had two assists against San Jose last weekend. It was his third multi-assist game since 2010.
The Union may be in good form, but they'll be facing a real bogeyman in the Rapids. Philadelphia have won just once in nine all-time meetings with the Rapids, and never at Talen Energy Stadium.
- Overall: Philadelphia 1 win (11 goals) … Colorado 3 wins (15 goals) … Ties 5
- At Philadelphia: Philadelphia 0 wins (6 goals) … Colorado 2 wins (8 goals) … Ties 3
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry, Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Sorin Stoica